Innovation Award entrant – Mercian Labels
A Staffordshire label manufacturer has an innovation that can increase productivity by as much as 74% and which it believes will revolutionise its industry.
Mercian Labels, based in Burntwood, has spent six years perfecting workflow automation with the aim of significantly reducing job changeover times, minimising material waste, improving productivity and freeing up operator time.
On a test run in September 2022 a job which would previously have taken nearly six hours was completed in one hour and 46 minutes.
Dr Adrian Steele, Managing Director of Mercian Labels, said: “This has been a six-year journey, but the results are outstanding for us as a business, for our customers, for the environment and potentially for the whole industry.
“The automated workflow doubled our production speed and significantly improved productivity, freeing up our team to focus on improvements in other areas.
“Now the new systems and technologies are happily running on a daily basis within our business, our team are already looking at our next innovation to further improve customer satisfaction, protect the environment and maximise the benefits to our community and the economy.”
Back in 2016, as the company approached its 50th anniversary, the 57 staff were asked to suggest innovations that might add value, reduce costs, minimise waste and save time.
One area that stood out was that most labels, once printed on a large reel, then needed to be cut down to the right width and length and fitted on the right sized cardboard core to suit the end user’s requirements.
This required a lot of machine set up time for each job, created additional waste and required highly skilled and experienced operators, who themselves were becoming increasingly difficult to find.
So Mercian Labels set out on what was to become a six year project to create something that had never been done before in its industry, workflow automation.
Mercian Labels has entered the Innovation Award category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.