Strategic outsourcing partnership helps ABG International target expansion

Strategic outsourcing is helping an East Yorkshire print finishing equipment manufacturer achieve major production efficiencies and boost capacity to cope with an increase in sales.

ABG International, which employs nearly 350 people at state-of-the-art plants at Bridlington, Driffield and in Germany, has been partnering with PP Control & Automation for more than nine years and in that time has seen its turnover grow almost 50%.

The expanding business has tapped into the West Midlands-based firm’s expertise in connectivity to reduce lead times and, importantly, create the platform to scale up to producing 250 digital print finishing machines in 2018.

“We operate in very similar ways and, once we had seen PP Control & Automation’s capabilities at its world class facility, we knew there were lots of synergies and a relationship to forge,” continued Phil Robson, Operations Manager at ABG International.

“PP was originally tasked with producing the electrical back panels on our new Digicon 3 digital print finishing machine and then delivering them to our Bridlington factory where we would fit the cables and harnesses, a labour-intensive job that would usually take between 2 to 3 days.”

He continued: “It didn’t take long until engineers from both companies came up with a new way of assembly that involved developing a more standard enclosure system, which would allow the panel to be easily slid into the machine.”

Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation, continued: “Once we had come up with the enclosure design, we then started considering the cable harnessing and the interconnectivity around the machines.

“It became apparent that a modular approach would be a lot more effective and we worked together to design a process that would see the modules assembled in the West Midlands.

“Working with the modular concept, means engineers at PP can look at the specific machine ‘make up’ and configuration and immediately calculate both the circuit protection requirements and the cable lengths, based on standard routings – providing a quicker installation for the team.”

ABG and PP engineers took just six months to redesign the controls architecture into the new modular format.

This gives the end customer a huge amount of flexibility when specifying the exact machine requirements they need, whilst ensuring ABG is not having to redesign constantly, rather selecting and configuring modules in a manner that provides a bespoke solution to the user.

In fact, the East Yorkshire business can now offer over 20 different configurations on its Digicon 3 platform.

Phil Robson went on to add: “Full interconnectivity solutions being designed/ introduced and creating a ‘plug and play’ scenario not only speeds up initial build, but also supports very efficient machine commissioning in the field – allowing machines to be up and running more quickly on site.

“The ‘plug and play’ approach is 60% faster than the previous assembly process and has eliminated 700 days of production each year, which can now be re-allocated to other areas of manufacturing and thus increasing our machine build capacity.”

ABG International is the world leader in digital finishing equipment that produces high quality labels and packaging for 2500 customers across the world.

It manufactured 250 machines in 2018, with plans in place to increase this to 300 as more firms adopt the many benefits of digital printing.

“Digital print is taking over from conventional printing, so we anticipate the market to expand rapidly over the next decade,” concluded Phil.

“Thanks to our commitment to outsourcing, we are now more efficient and have cut production and sales lead times significantly. Importantly, PP has also given us the additional capacity that allows us to go after new business safe in the knowledge we can quickly ramp up production to cope with it.”