The right route to success
Made-in-Canada CNC router technology provides foam packaging products supplier with real cutting edge technology
September 24, 2018
Tempe, Az.-based Foam Packaging Specialties, LLC (FPS) has been providing protective foam packaging products to customers in a wide variety of industries for more than 40 years—specializing the design and custom manufacturing of tight-fitting packaging solutions to keep sensitive and/or fragile products like electronic and medical devices safe and sound throughout their distribution cycle.
Employing 20 full-time people at a 52,000-square-foot plant a short drive outside of Phoenix, the company produces a wide variety of foam, boxes and materials suitable for diverse applications.
While most of its products arte made with polyethylene foam, the company is also very proficient working with low-density foams, high density-foams, anti-static foams, recycled foam, polyurethane foams, and high-density EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foams for reusable applications in the automotive and military industries, available in many colors and grades.
Over time, company president Christopher Perry came to acknowledge that the company’s current technical capabilities just weren’t up to the level demanded by its customers, with frequent time delays in creating prototypes and models threatening to result in lost business down the line.
“Until recently we were doing this ‘old school,’ so that a typical sample could take hours to make,” says Perry.
“That time frame became unacceptable for us,” Perry states, “as some of our competitors were capable of producing a prototype and model in considerably less time.
“Our customers expect models that fit their needs and are delivered quickly,” he says, “and we needed to find a way to do that.”
To prevent the problem from worsening, Perry began to examine several router vendors to see if any had a CNC router that would better meet his needs and create an advantage for a competitive and demanding marketplace.
Perry recognized that choosing the right machine to streamline the process was a crucial decision that would impact his company’s future production, growth and bottom line. To that end, he researched the routers of six different companies with the goal of finding the right product that would “at least put me on a par with competitors and get me up to speed.”
Perry contacted most of the six vendors, but ultimately he was really impressed by what he learned about AXYZ International, a leading global manufacturer of CNC routing systems and CNC knife systems based in Burlington, Ont.
With more than 25 years of experience in machine building and technical support, AXYZ has manufactured, installed and supported more than 10,500 machines worldwide.
Maintaining state-of-the-art application development centers in Canada, U.S., U.K, Poland and India, the company’s vast repertoire of skills and competencies made a big impression on Perry.
During his extensive research, Perry discovered that AXYZ was holding an open house not too far away at the Southern California office, and Perry sent a representative to investigate. After the representative came back and elaborated on the AXYZ’s knowledge about the protective packaging industry and the quality of the equipment, Perry’s decision had been made.
“It was top-notch, all the way around,” says Perry, lavishing praise on the purchased AXYZ 4008 Series CNC table router, capable of producing models for customers in minutes, instead of hours.
“Up to then, they (FPS) were doing everything manually and outsourcing,” recalls Larry Daignault, AXYZ International’s regional sales manager for southwestern U.S. “Due to the growth of their business, they realized they needed to automate the process in house,” says Daignault, crediting FPS for their due diligence in identifying the right solution for their needs.”
Ultimately, FPS settled the AXYZ 4008 Series CNC Table Router machine featuring a dual digital processing system, along with multiple cutting tool options for cutting diverse types of foam such as closed-cell polyethylene, open-cell polyurethane and reticulated foam.
The router comes in a range of five base sizes and different process lengths, and after examining the numerous options and the best use of those applications, the company’s router was equipped with a 5 HP spindle and an oscillating knife capable of working in tandem. In operation, the spindle can produce a smooth-edged inlay cut, while the knife can easily cut foam material with a thickness up to four inches. For its part, the router consistently delivers precise foam pocketing, while the knife accurately performs finite profile cuts and creates outlines for cuts and inserts.
“I can add cutting heads when and if I need them,” says Perry, adding the router has helped his firm cut operating costs, while producing diverse and creative models that have been praised by customers.
All the FPS employees were trained by a certified technician on-site—within the scope of real-world production—to learn how to accurately estimate the amount of time required to create files, select the right toolpath job to be sent to the machine, and to estimated the time for the process of off-loading and installing new material.
“They have really been able to improve product quality and increase production through the application of this technology,” says Daignault.
Adds Perry: “The router has substantially reduced the time it takes to develop the model for the customer,” Perry states. “It takes my sample time down to two hours,” which is an incredible improvement from what had been anywhere from 10 to 20 hours.
Since coming online, Perry says that the router has proven its reliability and capability on an everyday basis. He is also enthusiastic about the other options the table router gives him with current customers and future prospects.
“Everything we produce looks professional and projects our full professionalism,” says Perry, adding he is very happy about having established a good working relationship with AXYZ.
“This machine has really delivered outstanding results for us,” sums up Perry.
“In hindsight, I should have done this 15 years ago.”