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Diametric boosts efficiency with Kongsberg X20

Finishing Solutions

After introducing its new Kongsberg digital cutting table, branding specialist Diametric saw a boost in productivity with extensive efficiency gains and was able to pass on cost savings to customers.

The precision badge, label, and nameplate producer recently acquired the Kongsberg X20 as part of a strategic upgrade at the company’s manufacturing plant on the Isle of Wight. Managing director Graham Steele said that the digital cutting solution was already delivering a significant return on investment.

‘It has totally exceeded expectations, and really opened our eyes to the possibilities,’ stated Graham. ‘We knew there was a need for new technology because the cut shop has always been a bit of a bottleneck for production, so understanding the capacity of what we can actually put through has been a revelation.

‘Whenever you get a new piece of equipment there is always the anticipation of how it will fit into the existing workflow process, but once the engineer had been in to deliver the training, the machine has not stopped!’

Graham said the Kongsberg X20 had an immediate impact on productivity and efficiency. ‘The instant advantage we saw was the minimal set up time required, particularly for repeat orders, where you can recall the programming,’ he explained. ‘Then there is the accelerated running time. Because you can index cut on the X20, where the only limitation is the sheet size, we can also look at a larger yield on the sheet without worrying about registration issues. Previously we would have had to do a lower yield cut because we had to be conscious of the fact the cut needed to be accurate across the whole sheet. But with Kongsberg automation, we can maximise our materials.’

‘We are also bringing costs down for customers because we can get the job through the department at a faster rate, as well as cutting more products from one sheet,’ he added. ‘Pre Covid, we ran an extensive secret shopper exercise and discovered that our set up costs and tooling were proving an issue. Now we have brought the Kongsberg in, we have eliminated a lot of those costs. We are already passing those savings on to our customers, which has opened the door to some without the same budget as large international brands, but now with the option of good quality branding on their products.’

Graham has been with Diametric for 21 years. He joined as a sales account manager and progressed through the business before successfully leading a management buyout to become managing director six years ago. ‘Previously there hadn’t been much investment in the manufacturing plant, so when we bought the company that was something we were keen to do,’ said Graham. ‘Technology has moved on so far and fast that when we did come to invest, we have seen a massive improvement and very quick return on investment.’

Celebrating its 40th year in business, Diametric offers complete branding solutions. With badge, label, and nameplate production technologies, it delivers all branding requirements for a host of national and international customers.

‘Our cut shop has two full time operators, and most of our cuts would previously go through a manual process,’ said Graham. ‘To move those onto the Kongsberg meant a new way of working. Our production manager has taken the lead and is passing on the training to the two operators. That is what is great about the X20 – it is a very intuitive machine. It is one thing to upgrade the systems in the cut shop, but it is another for people to learn it and understand its capabilities. But the team have gotten on board very quickly and are confidently running production. It fits our business model exactly.’

Graham explained that when looking for the new equipment, the company identified appropriate machines and then effectively gave them a road test with the materials that the business use regularly. ‘Our industry sits apart from others,’ he said. ‘Everything we were looking at for cutting was for foam, board, or packaging, whereas we manufacture product branding, so we have myriad of materials on the shelf at any one time. We needed something that could handle most materials, meeting the requirements of what we do.’

‘The build quality really stood out. When you saw the Kongsberg machine it was evident it was built to last,’ he added. ‘For us, that robustness, the fact that it was a little weightier, made it the clear choice. It meant we knew it could hold its own with the materials we were using without pushing the limits of the machine.’

Graham said the versatility of the machine also enables Diametric to move into different fields. ‘Traditionally we work predominantly with plastics – materials like 80 micron vinyl and polycarbonates – but the Kongsberg allows us to use a greater selection of materials and also look at routing our products,’ he added. ‘Our client base sees us as an innovative company. So, for a lot of the product designers, if they are working on a project and they want to add something special for the customer, it’s our phone that tends to ring to look for a solution. Now, we can take on a wider variety of materials to further support our customers.’


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