Why Highcon is turning to AI to maximise packaging productivity
Simon Lewis, Vice-President Marketing at Highcon, explains the motivation behind the firm's recent partnership with Tilia Labs and its artificial intelligence-driven Tilia Phoenix software.
Highcon digital cutting and creasing allows brands and designers the ability to deliver stand-out packaging and displays rapidly, in time to keep up with changing trends: faster and more responsive delivery, increased versioning, shorter run lengths and more creative designs.
Earlier this year, Highcon Systems Ltd and Tilia Labs today announced a partnership that will build the software capabilities of Tilia Phoenix into every Highcon system going forward and offer them to existing customers.
Why was the deal between Highcon and Tilia done?
Highcon and Tilia Labs have been working together for more than a year in a relatively low-key way. During that time we’ve got to know one another better. We’ve seen how Tilia Phoenix has helped existing customers, and understood the true uniqueness of their artificial intelligence-driven imposition.
Highcon’s mission is to drive the digital manufacturing revolution in paperboard packaging and display, helping our customers become more productive at a lower cost. We became convinced that bundling Tilia with every unit would simplify the customer decision process, streamline adoption, and increase usage of Highcon’s systems. And, of course, it helped that Tilia Labs agree to develop the automatic nicks and strip lines functionality.
The Highcon Beam 2C digital cutter and creaser for corrugated packaging, POS and displays has a speed of up to 4,000 B1/42in sheets per hour
Interestingly, finishing is a bottleneck to full leverage of Tilia Labs’ capabilities in many converters. Highcon’s digital finishing systems remove that bottleneck. Therefore, the combination of Tilia and Highcon is a force-multiplier for both companies.
What will be the advantages to the customer of using machines equipped with Phoenix? In what ways, for example, will it increase efficiencies, save costs and energy?
- Automation of nicks and strip lines, saving operator time.
- The option of dynamic ganging using AI-driven imposition to deliver more jobs and packages with fewer sheets, setups and waste, leading to lower costs, lower carbon footprint, lower energy consumption and faster job turnaround times.
How does the AI component of Phoenix work and make it different from other digital workflows?
When you have dozens of jobs, it’s not possible for a planner, however gifted, to sort through all the job parameters and create a range of layouts with different characteristics in order to optimise production. The number of permutations and the complexity are simply too great.
Simon Lewis, Highcon
Even if you’ve managed to build an effective, smart production plan, a rush order comes in and the whole plan falls to pieces. With AI-driven workflow, there is no limit to the ability to handle complexity, and there’s no problem if something changes like the arrival of a rush order. In this regard, Tilia Phoenix is truly unique and powerful.
How will this collaboration drive the 'mass production of one' closer to realisation?
Highcon is about batch production. Since Highcon’s systems combine digitally driven mechanical creasing and laser die cutting, we facilitate productive manufacturing of small- and medium-run jobs, with full mechanical creases.
To the extent that a collection of jobs of one share the same physical characteristics and different artwork, then the collaboration could facilitate production of such jobs. But right now it doesn’t look like the central use case.
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