WestRock Plant Saves $100,000+ with Baldwin PREPAC
For manufacturing businesses – in this case package printing – seemingly small changes can sometimes bring significant benefits. At WestRock’s Flat Rock, North Carolina plant, a switch from dry cleaning cloths to packaged PREPAC cloths from Baldwin has resulted in more than $100,000 in savings, increased productivity, and strengthened sustainability efforts.
Using the pre-impregnated cloths, printers can achieve highly accurate results with their blanket cleaning efforts. Among the benefits of this new approach: it enables faster make-ready and uniform distribution of solvent, which can prevent damage to blanket rollers by preventing uneven solvent distribution, or no solvent – a common occurrence.
“With the original dry cleaning cloth,” says Richard Tucker, press supervisor at the plant, “we were having constant problems with maintenance issues, keeping spray bars clean. PREPAC cloth is much better, more consistent, and we don’t have as much downtime.”
The successful effort began in October 2020, when Baldwin converted the plant’s three Heidelberg XL-105 presses from its dry cloth/solvent dispensing systems to PREPAC. This was the first such conversion done. The results of the changeover were strong, including faster washes, a minimization of start-up waste, and longer blanket life. Further, downtime was reduced because PREPAC eliminated the need to hand wash blankets or perform the maintenance required by dry cloth/solvent dispensing automatic blanket cleaning systems.
In September 2021, Westrock carefully evaluated the metrics of the conversion. Within one year, Westrock experienced $100,000 in blanket savings alone, and an additional $13,000 in wash savings. Also, blanket and impression cylinder cleaning times were reduced by more than 50%, resulting in faster make readies and enhanced productivity. About the conversion and its benefits, WestRock printing manager Jeffery Bell said, “Moving to the PREPAC system made our blanket wash system more automated. It simplified it.”
Finally, the switch to PREPAC helped move the WestRock plant toward its sustainability goals. WestRock CEO David Sewell said, “Our customers have ambitious goals to reduce their environmental footprints. They scrutinize their suppliers’ environmental practices, and they value partners who can help them reach their goals and satisfy customers while winning in the marketplace.” The previously mentioned $13,000 in savings also brought roughly 4 tons of VOC emissions savings.
Based on the success of PREPAC effort at the Flat Rock plant, Bell hopes WestRock will implement the conversion in its other locations, stating his goal is to share the technology with the other facilities so they can experiences similar savings.