Leading plastic card manufacturer Nitecrest has invested half a million pounds in a new state-of-the-art plastic card affixing and inserting machine and accompanying printing equipment to increase productivity and capacity at their Lancashire factory. The K91 machine acquired from Kern, has provided Nitecrest with a solution which allows for accurate end-to-end audit control, as well as the attachment of multiple cards to a carrier.
The machine, the first of its kind to be installed in the UK comprises a full-colour CMYK printer for white paper cut sheet processing, high-speed integrated sheet feeding and folding technology, various devices to read all necessary code types on the card and carriers, state of the art robot technology for card affixing, four high-capacity insert feed stations, document grouping, envelope inserting and sealing, and PCL production control reporting software for time and date-stamped audit trail of each completed pack.
This fully integrated affixing system has a high-speed inline sheet feeder and dual card feeder that can read all the necessary code types using a range of reading devices including magnetic stripe decoder, CCD camera and a scanner for OCR, 2D, and 1D reading. The single-run processing solution will facilitate Nitecrest’s need to process both short run complex daily production and large batch work efficiently. It was particularly suited to their requirements because of its ability to provide a camera audit from start to end which ensures Nitecrest and its customers receive a secure and reliable service.
Processing over one billion cards a year, Nitecrest is focusing on ensuring accuracy; with the K91, it will enable them to track the entire affixing process from start to finish. Sensors are positioned at each stage of the input channels and base system to detect and track each card, carrier sheet and ultimately, the completed pack. A variety of insert types can be processed from the four servo controlled high capacity feeders where inserts are added to the card-affixed pack on either a selective or fixed count basis. This enables Nitecrest’s customers to amalgamate a range of business collateral with plastic cards including terms and conditions, promotional leaflets and communications booklets or flyers.
The affixed pack is enclosed using the same technology that Kern delivers to their high volume transactional sector customers. This unique to Kern envelope pocket inserting technology ensures the card affixed pack is fully protected throughout and more particularly at the point of insertion with a patented to Kern packing pocket design which reduces the potential for spoils and remakes. For card production and processing, this is an essential benefit to ensure all contractual service levels and internal key performance indicators will be fulfilled at all times, and the cost per piece is kept to a minimum.
Kern, a company with a time-honoured repute for innovation in mailing and packaging systems, worked with Nitecrest to provide a solution that would eradicate the need for the pre-printing of letterheads or the manual loading of cards and carriers onto a conveyor. Kern’s UK National Sales Manager, Alan Thompson explained: “Every element of Nitecrest’s current and known future requirements around this project were identified and worked through in granular detail. We developed a clear understanding of the business drivers behind this investment which in turn allowed us to build a fit for purpose solution that catered for the exacting needs of Nitecrest’s complex operation.
“Our combined objective was to provide Nitecrest with a unique and valuable offering in card production and processing targeting the financial market sector, and I truly believe we have achieved this. We recognised the necessity for a machine that provides more than simple card affixed output, and the K91 solution was chosen as the perfect offering to meet Nitecrest’s current and future requirements. The machine features state-of-the-art servo and device control technology and a card pick-and-place robot system from Epson that delivers unseen before accurate and flexible card placement and positioning.
“Kern is looking forward to being part of Nitecrest’s future successes in what is already a successful and meaningful partnership between the two organisations. It has been a genuine pleasure to work with the Nitecrest team who have proven to be extremely knowledgeable and professional throughout. We look forward to working with them in the future to provide additional solutions and services.”
A key draw of the machine for Nitecrest was its seamless ability to eliminate errors at the attachment stage; it reads the code on the card, matches it to the corresponding carrier and inserts it into an envelope. A tele-camera will monitor the process and confirm the correct number of cards are attached, and the comprehensive audit trail ensures data accuracy and security.
Sales Director, John Hart, commented: “It is a priority for Nitecrest to ensure our customers receive an integral system that is not subject to human error. This has become of increasing importance to the business following our expansion into the financial market whereby we provide institutions with prepaid, secure-pack, MasterCard and Visa cards.
“The K91 machine is an exciting addition to our current manufacturing infrastructure and will certainly enhance our ability to fulfill both large and small scale production requirements thanks to the 4000 pieces per hour output.
“We have a longstanding awareness of the impressive reputation of Kern and its machinery, and as soon as we were in a position to invest, they were our first port of call. We believe our investment in this technology will enable us to achieve higher accuracy and productivity as well as an increase in capacity. All of this will contribute to Nitecrest remaining a cost-competitive and fully capable plastic card solution provider to new and existing customers.”
Kern was also able to offer a fundamental benefit to Nitecrest in the form of scalability. The machine’s modular design can accommodate growth as it allows for further functions to be added to it when necessary. With the plastic card industry constantly being redefined by technological and digital advancements, it is fundamental that Nitecrest is flexible and responsive to remain key players.