Daco Solutions could be the talking point at this year’s Labelexpo Europe
The label converting equipment manufacturer stopped visitors in their tracks in 2003. Can it repeat the performance in 2011? David Callinan visits the company
LABEL CONVERTERS could well become embroiled in a major talking point at this year’s forthcoming Labelexpo Europe exhibition. A label converting equipment manufacturer, which stopped visitors in their tracks at the 2003 event with a table top finishing machine that included die cutting and kept the price ultra competitive, believes it has done it again with a new and genuine innovation.
Daco Solutions is keeping its new development strictly under wraps but if the reaction to it is as overwhelming as it was for its DTD250 machine, that resulted in 500 sales enquiries in a matter of days, David Beynon and Mark Laurence, the driving forces behind the company, could be issuing invoices at a satisfying rate.
“The DTD250 was a natural progression from our DT250 finishing machine with the addition of die cutting,” explains managing director David Beynon. “It’s the type of machine I always knew would do well, ever since I started the business after leaving a market leading label converting machine manufacturer as head of design. We have spent considerable design hours and market analysis time on our new piece of equipment and we fully believe it is going to cause a stir at the show.”
The original DTD250, with its unusually short web path, went on to win a SMART award for innovation and sales performance.
It was in 2001 that David Beynon went through a self-confessed mid-life crisis and career hiatus which caused him to leave a top job for the uncertainties of running his own company.
His belief at the time, as now, is that converting machines had become overly complicated and expensive, victims of the trend for technological progression at all costs in order to repeatedly impress customers with the latest bells and whistles, modules and technical developments.
His first machines were the SI330 inspection rewinder and a combi turret rewinder. Fully costed these machines still undercut comparative equipment. David Beynon had no machine shop to begin with and used external sales support, finally linking with converting equipment agent Polygraphica and meeting Mark Laurence, now sales director of Daco.
Like most small engineering companies, especially in the converting industry, Daco Solutions began to develop a range of machines but then faced the growth or stability conundrum.
Customers sometimes equate low cost with lesser quality, accepting a ‘cheap and cheerful’ solution with their eyes wide open. On the other hand, as Mark Laurence explains, they can buy cheap and be disappointed enough not to repeat the experience.
“Our design and manufacturing belief is based on the principle that we can build a high quality machine, whether turret rewinder, rotary die cutter or inspection slitter rewinder and make it easy to use, reliable and comparatively inexpensive without artificially inflating the price. For years we have seen customers buying competitor’s equipment that we know is inferior. They frequently come to us having had their fingers and wallets burned needing to invest again in replacing poor performing machines with ours. Getting the message across that high quality does not need to cost the earth has not always been easy.”
Expansion and growth requires investment, far from impossible in Daco’s case, but then sales volume has to increase exponentially as a consequence.
“A few of the big players in our sector have formed alliances with blue-chip companies,” says David Beynon, “and they are many times bigger than us. We are wary of tying up with one partner. But, this has positioned one or two companies as the Mercedes-Benz of the label converting equipment industry whereas I see us as more in the Ford class. We know that we can compete when it comes to machine quality, reliability and certainly cost, and a glance at our customer list shows this, but perception is often in the eye of the beholder so the quality of our machine range can sometimes become obscured by the notion that small and inexpensive means cheap with no back up expertise. Nothing could be further from the truth in our case.”
Before the DTD250 made its appearance, plain label conversion often meant buying a cheap label press with its long web path, slow production output and working it to destruction.
A signal (and a tribute) that Daco had designed something genuinely different came when the company noticed its design ideas being copied by other manufacturers.
When it comes to combi turret rewinders, Daco came up with an innovation as opposed to a design modification. Its machine could be used inline and offline. All other turret rewinders had to be fitted to the end of the press or an offline solution. The ability of the Daco rewinder to be sited on the press or off the press makes a considerable difference to a customer, particularly processing very small rolls. An offline rewinder enables the press to maintain speed and not slow down. For example, David Beynon explains, if there is just 10 metres on a roll and a turret recycles at three cycles-per-minute the press ends up running at 30 metres-per-minute which is not very efficient. Siting rewinding offline enables the press to run at 100 or 150 metres-per-minute and then onto rewinding.
As testimony to Daco Solutions’ design and engineering skills, its customer list reflects quality. One the world’s largest packaging companies CCL has invested in machines at plants in Denmark and USA. Fix-A-Form now recommends Daco to all the licensees of its booklet handling system. Teva Pharmaceuticals, Los Angeles and Rockwell Automation are just two more major names on Daco’s client list.
And the Beverley, East Yorkshire-based company is celebrating the sale of its two hundreth machine. One the UK’s fastest growing label producers has purchased its sixth Daco machine, a DTR330, 13-inch slitter which starts from under £10,000. Its experience of Daco can be summed up by the fact that the company keeps coming back for new machines and reports they are blindingly fast and real workhorses with thousands of hours trouble free performance.
Daco Solutions suffered to a degree in the recent recession but not too badly. When the euro/sterling currency exchange rate collapsed it meant Daco was significantly cheaper than its European competitors.
Despite a healthy order book crammed with repeat business, Daco feels it should be doing more to build on its reputation for quality at the right price. Currently, the company builds 25 percent bespoke machines, 65 percent off-the-shelf with the remainder of its business parts supply and service. So, David Beynon and Mark Laurence will manage its growth carefully without ever becoming too big and unwieldy. As well as developing European markets, the US is largely unexploited so whatever is being kept under wraps for this year’s Labelexpo Europe launch may well be a pointer to the future direction of Daco Solutions.
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