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Industrial paper cutter with computer controls

Josh Riggs (left) and Matt Robinson operate the SABER paper cutter at Piedmont Graphics.

May 18, 2018

Piedmont Graphics manages growth, hikes productivity with Colter & Peterson’s SABER paper cutter

Good decisions make good businesses better. Management at Piedmont Graphics forecasted increased business for 2017, so they took a proactive position and installed a new 45-inch SABER® paper cutter from Colter & Peterson 15 months ago. Since then, business has grown by leaps and bounds.

Increasing its workforce from 50 to 65 people and with the SABER handling the bulk of the cutting work, the Greensboro, North Carolina digital printer has reworked its 44,000 square-foot floor space by eliminating two older paper cutters. The end result is with a Microcut® PLUS electronics package as part of the system, more work is getting out the door faster and more efficiently.

“In the last year, we’ve had across-the-board growth in the 30-35 percent range. Small format digital work has experienced the greatest jump recently, but we’ve had good growth in the wide format arena as well,” said Dwayne Durham, Piedmont’s Production Manager who came on board in October, 2016 just as business was steadily increasing.

“We are doing a lot more work this year with the cutter, especially the jobs with small, tedious cuts,” continued Durham. “We have a lot of those types. The SABER cuts about 85 percent of the work, and we use a smaller Itoh as a back-up for any overflow. It was so efficient, we sold the other two cutters.”

Under the leadership of company president John Rutledge, Piedmont Graphics is a premier print services provider that excels at labels, wide format and commercial printing, including promotional products and apparel. Durham says the majority of the clientele is regional as part of the business model Rutledge has established. Those customers have multiple locations and distribution points, and many utilize fulfillment as part of their operations.

That’s why the SABER cutter is so valuable to us. Our job range can be as small as five sheets or more than 85,000. With Microcut we’re able to load more sheets with the 6-inch clamp opening,” remarked Durham, who noted they run two shifts over 15 hours four days a week and a regular shift on Fridays.

“The difference is we go with a lighter load when printing synthetics or a laminated piece. That’s where having the double arm action of the SABER really helps trimming this type of material. We do jobs for the horticultural industry like tree tags, and some grocery signage that can be as large as 22-by-28 inches. But we also cut on a regular basis, one-half by one-half inch squares of styrene shelf strips that are printed on our flatbeds.”

Piedmont is an all-digital press operation with a roster that includes a Ricoh 9110, Indigo 7900, NexPress 3000, and two Kodak Digimaster units, an HD150 and HD300. But Matt Robinson, lead guillotine operator, says the SABER’s value has impact before the work reaches the presses.

“With Microcut PLUS, it’s part of our organizational interface for every job. It begins in prepress where we can convert JDF files and then program everything during set-up. It really creates maximum efficiency for us and we cut so much more work. For example, we cut a lot of parent stock up to 28-by-40 inches, then trim and reduce. What used to take us two hours we can now do in one hour or less with the SABER.”

In addition to being highly accurate – within 1/64th of an inch – Microcut memorizes and recalls cut sequences instantly to save time. That’s a huge factor since 95 percent of Piedmont’s jobs are full bleed, says Durham. He notes there are other tangible benefits. “It is very user-friendly. For our new employees, they can pick up the process fairly quickly so we don’t lose a step anywhere.”


Robinson attributes that to the on-going support Colter & Peterson provides. “Anytime we have required technical support, Joe Proudfoot was there for us. It’s been a huge advantage right from the start that he took the time to talk to us during the installation process. His training and help when we need it makes us better.”

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