KOOLKUT POWERS GROWTH AT ELITE SIGNS
Growth, while a good thing and a key goal for many businesses, brings its challenges. For Elite Signs, based in Lincolnshire in the UK, the issue of sheet material cutting loomed large among those challenges.
Established in 1998, the company originally cut Foamex and Dibond manually, with a blade and straight edge, buying other sheet materials in cut to size.
This approach was fine while the business was small, but, as Nick Tinker, Elite's owner, explained, it fell short once the company began to grow. "We grew by about a third in the course of one year," he noted. "That revealed a number of issues demanding attention."
A wall saw the best option
There were three main issues. Studio work-flow needed to be smoothed and accelerated, off-cuts needed to be used instead of being thrown away, and Elite's ability to respond to rush orders needed improving. "It all came down to the need for greater flexibility and capacity," Nick observed.
To achieve that flexibility and capacity, Elite Signs needed to be able to cut sheet materials in house.
With standard-sized sheets of common materials on hand and the ability to cut them as required, the company would no longer need to wait for their suppliers to deliver materials for each incoming order.
Additionally, Elite would be able to make use of off cuts, turning what was previously waste into saleable products.
Sagetech – open, approachable, helpful
Speaking to Sagetech to find out more about the Koolkut KK, Nick found the company friendly and helpful. "There was plenty of detail on the saws: I was able to get all the information I needed to properly assess whether a Koolkut would be right for us," he noted. "As a company they're open, approachable and non-pushy; really nice to deal with."
Elite Signs' Koolkut KK21 is the largest saw in the Koolkut range, catering for sheet sizes of up to 3.1m by 2.1m. Its smaller siblings, the KK16 and KK12, cut sheets of up to 10' x 5' (3.1m x 1.6m) and 8' x 4' (2.5m x 1.25m) respectively. All Koolkuts offer plunge and bevel cutting, simple and compound angle cutting to the full length and breadth of the sheet, quick stops for easy precise and repeat dimensioning and mid-height supports for smaller workpieces.
The Koolkut KK sits at the heavy-weight end of Sagetech's family of saws, capable of high-end intermediate industrial use. Some operators are using these saws to cut up to 150 sheets per week. At the other end of the spectrum, Sagetech's fully portable Zapkut ZK range offers a genuine vertical panel saw solution to entry-level operators, while the Zapkut ZM units are mid-range solutions, providing many of the benefits of heavier duty units (such as a moving column design) at a fraction of the cost.
Versatility, precision and safety
Able to cut a wide range of signmaking materials, including plywood, MDF, acrylics, Foamex, Dibond and solid aluminium, the Koolkut range offers greater versatility than guillotine and knife-blade cutting solutions.
With no exposed blade nor the need to move the workpiece during cutting, these saws are safer than common alternatives such as table saws. The exceptionally robust frame and high-precision, sealed-for-life bearings offer more precise cutting. The vertical attitude removes the need for horizontal sheet handling, reducing the risk of injury and workpiece damage. Cutting even the heaviest sheets is a genuine one-man job.
Installed in early 2013 Elite Signs' Koolkut KK21 has become an indispensable part of Elite Signs' armoury. Running every day and on busy days, more or less continuously the Koolkut is used for dimensioning Foamex and Dibond, and trimming off-cuts to size for use in customer projects. The saw is also frequently used to trim off the bleed on finished signs. "The quality of the cut edge is that good," said Nick.
An absolute essential
The Koolkut's impact on the business has been substantial. It has markedly accelerated Elite's production process and improved flexibility in the studio. Nick's team can now cut materials when it's most convenient to do so, making productive use of what was previously down-time. The Koolkut has made same-day orders entirely practical. This is especially important as, as Nick commented, "It's surprising how many customers place orders because they know we can deliver to a tight deadline."
Nick summarised: "The Koolkut has given us enhanced speed and flexibility, and contributed to stronger profits. It paid for itself within the first year. It's an absolute essential in the studio, and great value for money!"