Navigating Success: Vanguard’s Onboarding Journey with Highcon

  • January 16, 2024

By Galit Beck


Adopting digital die-cutting technology is crucial for packaging converters who aim to outperform their competitors, improve efficiency, and increase profitability. To fully utilize this technology, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of how it aligns with current equipment and workflows. Additionally, a team of skilled machine operators, structural designers, and pre-press team members are required to produce packaging that seamlessly integrates into existing processes. This ensures swift job conversion with minimal manual intervention.


Why Highcon?

Vanguard Companies aims to revolutionize the packaging and displays industry. To achieve this, they have strategically partnered with Highcon. This partnership will help Vanguard expand their presence in the corrugated packaging and display industry. Additionally, it will support their e-commerce packaging division, Box Genie. Highcon system’s unique ability to eliminate dies in the finishing process, coupled with its small footprint, make it a perfect fit for Vanguard’s requirements.


Onboarding Excellence

Vanguard partnered with Highcon for a comprehensive onboarding journey, which focused on understanding the converters’ primary requirements and ensuring compatibility with their existing equipment. The process involved site preparation, training for operators, designers, prepress, structural, production managers, and workflow-related functions. During this phase, Jim Smith, a ramp-up and support specialist at Highcon in the U.S., played a crucial role in leveraging his diverse background and expertise.

Jim’s role involved technical training and bridging gaps in pre-press and structural departments. A phased onboarding approach was adopted, which included an initial six-week on-site training followed by a revisit from Jim after a few weeks. This approach helped the Vanguard operators to quickly grasp the technology and streamline their operations.

We were running production orders during the training with his (Jim’s) assistance. Once he left, it was up to us to go ahead and work through the process,” said Doug Hay, Director of Production, Vanguard. “Within six to eight weeks, we were running production orders consistently across three shifts, seven days a week, and they haven’t slowed down since.” Initially eight to ten operators were trained with the primary focus of ensuring that all team members had an understanding of the machine. This facilitated smoother operations and allowed for flexibility in task assignments and potential for growth.

Jim Smith’s practical approach to problem-solving was crucial to Vanguard’s success. His constant follow-ups and promptness in addressing inquiries ensured a collaborative and fruitful partnership.

It made all the difference in the world to me and my staff in how fast we got up to speed. We still occasionally reach out and talk to him [Jim]. If he has not heard from us in a while, he will pick up the phone and say, “Hey how’s everything going?” said Hay. “That is the kind of relationship we want. We have an open relationship. That is how it works for us and let’s hope we continue it.


Ramping Up Production: Challenges and Continuous Support

During the onboarding process, the team faced several challenges which they tackled with a proactive attitude. For instance, the structural design team, who were initially hesitant about change, eventually embraced the new workflow methodologies introduced by Highcon. As a result of their expertise and willingness to adapt, significant improvements were made to the workflow process. For example, the time taken to create structure files per order was reduced from 35-45 minutes to just 5-10 minutes by adopting the ArtiosCAD module for manufacturing in structural design.

We have discovered new ways that are significantly faster than our previous standard process. Jim’s expertise has been invaluable to our design team, as we are now implementing it in other areas as well,” shared Scott Auer, the Pre-Press Graphic Manager.

Hay stated, “Currently, we handle 300 to 400 unique setups per month. Our aim is to increase it to 800 setups per month on the machine. These are ambitious goals we have set for ourselves.


Looking Ahead

Vanguard is looking forward to a positive future, with an expanding e-commerce business and a commitment to sustainability as the primary objectives for the year 2024. The efficient onboarding process with Highcon has played a crucial role in increasing operator productivity, which has positioned the company to meet the growing demand for its services.


Contact us today if you’re interested in learning more about Highcon’s digital die cutting systems.


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