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Digital spare parts help pharma carton manufacturer reduce part costs by 40%

February 21, 2024

A leading carton and leaflet production company based in Wales is making substantial cost and time savings thanks to a revolutionary on-demand digital spares service.

Chester Medical, a carton and leaflet production and printing facility serving the pharmaceutical industry based in Deeside Flintshire, joined forces with Addition Design’s AddParts service to find ways in which digital spares could assist in reducing the cost and impact of downtime on spare parts for the company’s gluing and folding production lines.

Thanks to AddParts expertise in 3D scanning, digital data management and industrial 3D printing Chester Medical have benefited from savings in downtime as well as a more than 40 per cent cost savings on critical components for their machinery.

AddParts, an exclusive service of Addition Design based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park Technology Centre in South Yorkshire, supplies digital spares for automated production and packing lines giving manufacturing customers in multiple sectors a competitive advantage by reducing downtime.

Tom Fripp, director at Addition Design, said: “Chester Medical operates a number of automated and semi-automated production lines to print both folded cartons and patient information leaflets. These machines run at very high speeds to ensure that products are delivered at competitive prices but with speed and accuracy comes complexity and hundreds of moving parts that are critical to smooth, accurate operation.

“The machines are typically supplied by major manufacturers and require a steady stream of replacement components. However, it is not unheard of for such components to be available with particularly long lead times of up to two months so either spares are held in stock, meaning inventory management, space and cash tied up in stores, or risk expensive downtime.

“So, Chester Medical approached us as they had identified two key components initially that often fail and wanted to look at ways in which digital spares could assist in parts for the company’s gluing and folding lines.

“As Chester Medical carried spares, examples of the two components were sent to our headquarters in Sheffield to be 3D scanned and added to Chester Medical’s digital storeroom on the AddParts client portal. From there the team at Chester Medical could review the parts as well as the necessary design changes needed to offer like-for-like industrial 3D printed parts. Finally, the parts were ordered, produced using a combination of high-grade materials, assembled along with correctly specified off-the-shelf fittings and supplied in batches.”

The replacement folder/gluer clamps and folding plate locking handles were received by Chester Medical within only four days meaning that the reduction in downtime associated with these components was substantial.

Added Tom: “The time savings, together with the significantly reduced cost of these parts, which has seen a saving of more than 40%, and the like-for-like functionality that the AddParts components provide has seen real momentum for Chester Medical as they build in the utilisation of AddParts for yet more components and continue to build up their storeroom of on-demand digital spares accordingly. It’s been fantastic to work with them.”

Ronnie Delamar, operations manager at Chester Medical, said: “As well as conventional printing, we offer digitally printed cartons and leaflets which cater to the pharma industry’s increasing demand for short-run, short lead-time manufacture. The whole facility is accredited to the PS9000 pharmaceutical grade, including the digital print facility making the company unique within this field. This means that time really is of the essence for the success of our business.

“And in this regard, AddParts has been an absolute game changer for us at Chester Medical. For too long it’s just been accepted that spare parts can take ages, that we have to pay loads for them and hold huge amounts in stock. But with AddParts we don’t have to. The parts they have supplied are great quality and are really doing the business for us, we couldn’t be happier and have big plans to get the guys over to our site to keep building up our digital storeroom.”