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Cox Target Media
Valpak Manufacturing Center mails coupons to 45 million households in North America, turnaround time from printing to packaging has been reduced from 4 days to 4 hours
Cox Target Media, Inc. (headquartered in Largo, Florida, USA) mails its familiar blue “Valpak” envelopes to approximately 45 million households across North America every month. In July 2007, Cox opened the new Valpak Manufacturing Center (VMC) in St. Petersburg, Florida with an investment of approximately “$220 million.” VMC houses state-of-the-art high speed printing presses and material handling systems including Daifuku Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) and high speed rail-guided vehicle system Sorting Transfer Vehicle System (STV). All processes from printing to collating, packaging and storing are automated. Automation has reduced operating costs and has cut production cycle time from four days to four hours.
Cox previously manufactured Valpak products in two facilities: Largo, Florida and Elm City, North Carolina. Cox experienced substantial growth in the late 90s to early 2000. In 2002 when planning for future growth, the company acknowledged that they were using 1960s manufacturing technology and constraining growth. After several years of research, Cox decided to build a new facility. VMC is situated on 20-acre (approximately 80,000 sqm) of land with 10 acres (approximately 40,000 sqm) of building space. The building was designed to withstand a Category 4 hurricane and is equipped with back-up generators. VMC operates in four shifts with 125 people and runs 24 hours, six days a week. Maintenance activities take place on Sundays. Valpak mails over one million envelopes everyday and prints 20 billion coupons annually.
Material handling efficiently connects the printing and shipping processes that handle over 20 billion coupons annually
VMC facility is divided into areas for printing, collating (where coupons are cut and placed into envelopes), buffering for shipping, storing, and shipping/receiving. Coupons are printed on large, high speed presses, folded into signatures, and then wound onto huge rolls holding up to 10,000 signatures each. The rolls are stored temporarily in Daifuku’s Print Roll Buffer AS/RS (automated storage/retrieval system). The rolls are retrieved and delivered to the collation area on 17 Automated Guided Vehicle System (AGV) according to the processing schedule of the nine collation machines.
Coupons printed by Cox’s customers are received and stored in the rack-supported building unitload AS/RS (RB) and transported to the picking area via high speed Sorting Transfer Vehicles (STVs). Human pickers move the required amount of coupons into totes, which are then conveyed to a Material Sorting System until they are needed. Totes are retrieved from HDS (high density storage) when particular inserts are needed and transferred to conveyors for transport to the collation systems.
Each collator can gather about 128 coupons into a single package. Signatures cut into individual inserts are automatically stacked and then an envelope is wrapped around the stack and sealed. Addresses are printed by inkjet onto the envelopes. Completed envelopes are sorted into mail trays according to zip/postal code. The filled trays are then conveyed back to the HDS where they are temporarily stored. When there are enough mail trays to build a pallet for a certain delivery area, trays are retrieved from HDS and palletized by a robot. Completed pallets are carried by STVs to the RB where they are stored until trucks arrive for loading. Then the same STVs carry the pallets to the shipping area.
The 4-hour turnaround time has doubled production capacity enabling the company to ship up to 54 billion coupons yearly
Valpak’s manufacturing processes are completed with almost no manual handling. Advanced automation in VMC greatly reduced the production cycle from four days to four hours and has enabled the company to operate with less than half the labor of the previous two facilities. Also, the company’s production capacity more than doubled increasing the production cap to 54 billion coupons a year.
Vice president of manufacturing
When we were building this facility, we were after efficiency of production as well as increased quality and increased consistency of operations. Daifuku was incredibly creative in their process of coming up with solutions and integrated the entire material handling system. This project not only benefited Cox Target Media but our clients and consumers as well.