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Case Study: Waverley Engraving Ltd.

The Fox-in-a-Box cable labelling kit soon proved its worth for industrial labelling specialist, Waverley Engraving – helping it fulfil a large order that would have otherwise been impossible.

Signs of successful times thanks to Fox-in-a-Box.

Based in Colney Heath, near St Albans, in Hertfordshire, Waverley Engraving has been in business for over 20 years. They specialise in engraving and sign making for the electrical industry, working with contractors for such organisations as London Underground Ltd (LUL) and Network Rail.

“We specialise in industrial engraving, such as labels and electrical panels but we also do more general engraving work including trophies and brass plaques,” said Bruce Giffen, Waverley Engraving’s Managing Director. “Among our other activities are laser etching, vinyl lettering and producing acrylic letters for sign making.”

For the last three or four years, Waverley Engraving has been supplying cable labels for use in a number of organisations, including LUL. Bruce explained: “The traditional way of labelling these cables was via placing individual rubber letters onto the cables. It was both intricate and time consuming work.

“Then newer methods of cable labelling were developed and, once they were approved as meeting various health and safety – including fire safety – standards, we began using them,” said Bruce. “However, there were some major issues with these methods with regards to the quality of the print on the labels.

“We needed a complete solution for printing high volumes of affordable, LUL approved cable labels,” he added. “Then Silver Fox brought out its thermal printer and included it in its ‘Fox-in-a-Box’ kit-based cable labelling solution.”

A leading UK manufacturer of labelling solutions, Silver Fox developed ‘Fox-In-A-Box’, intending it to be an easy-to-use, cost-effective solution for printing large volumes of cable labels with all the essential components supplied in a single box. The kit includes a Plug’N’Play thermal printer, labelling software, a universal guidance system for heat-shrink and non-shrink tubing, full length thermal ribbon and connecting cables - in fact everything needed to start printing labels. To help with setting up, there is also a manual and the company offers a free bookable telephone support/set-up session that also includes software training.

Fox-In-A-Box is designed to make engineers’ lives easier, helping them to save time with every cable labelling job they do,” said Nick Michaelson, Silver Fox’s CEO. “Software updates are also free for both new and existing customers. These are made possible by the special automatic web update module incorporated in our software.”

The Silver Fox cable labelling solution uses one printer and one ribbon for all types of label – including Tie-on Cable Labels, Heatshrink, Non-shrink, Wrap-around self- laminating labels and 2-Part wire marking. There are also other time and cost savings available because, using the Silver Fox Plug’N’Play printer, users can load and print whatever label type they need without any time-consuming set-up and label wastage. They just move seamlessly from one label type to another.

There are two levels of software available: Advanced and Professional. The latter software offers some industry leading import functionality such as cross-ferruling for wire marking and variable duplication of cable labels, where different quantities of each label are required.

Armed with a thermal printing machine, a supply of blank labels and the rest of the Fox-in-a-Box kit, Waverley Engraving began a new era in its cable labelling experience.

Bruce soon noticed that the Fox-in-a-Box approach offers some distinct advantages. Importantly, Silver Fox not only manufactures its labels in the UK but also holds large stocks of rolls of label ‘blanks’. This means that Silver Fox can supply its customers’ needs extremely quickly.

“Not only do we now have a reliable thermal printing machine,” said Bruce, “we also get regular upgrades to the software as part of the package, which is all done online and is very useful.

“The printer has a smaller footprint than our previous cable labelling machine,” he continued. “It’s quieter, cheaper and easier to run and the printer has three speed settings – which means it can produce labels faster than was possible before and it does it without losing any print quality.

“In addition, the labels that we produce via the Silver Fox thermal printer have a better ‘look and feel’ than the ones we used to produce,” he said.

“Silver Fox has a larger range of labels – in terms of size and colours – than any other supplier we’ve found,” stated Bruce. “And, because these labels are made in the UK whatever amount of labels we need are only a telephone call away. Delivery is never a problem. For example, we had an order for 1,000 printed cable labels that were being installed that evening but we only had some 800 blanks in stock. So I was able to jump in the car and collect some more from Silver Fox. Any other supplier would have taken between four and six weeks to supply the materials we needed – so without Silver Fox, we couldn’t have taken the order, let alone been able to supply the goods within the necessary timescale.

“Moreover, we get lots of customer support from Silver Fox – and regular, automatic updates and upgrades of its Labacus Innovator software.

“We use the Advanced, rather than the Professional, version of the software because we’re only doing basic labelling,” he revealed. “We find that this software gives us more than sufficient control over the label design – in terms of the fonts we can use and the size of the type – than any other labelling method. With the Silver Fox product, we can make whatever changes we need to the labels we’re producing.

“We’ve also noticed that, since we’ve been using Silver Fox labelling products, the amount of wastage in producing the labels has fallen dramatically,” he said. “Using other cable label production processes, there was some label wastage when you were setting up the system – and these labels aren’t cheap, with each label costing between 70p and 90p, that could add up! However, there is no wastage at all with the Silver Fox process. Any mistakes on the labels can be amended and there is no need to run a ‘test’ label before starting the labelling process.

“Furthermore, whereas other printers use only a small part of the printer ribbon, the Silver Fox thermal printer offers users two widths of ribbon – and it’s also possible to print two labels together, which further reduces ribbon wastage.

“I’m particularly pleased to see that the Silver Fox labels come loaded onto a cardboard reel and packaged in a cardboard box. That makes recycling these reels and the packaging simple. There’s no need to put any of this into landfill. Contrastingly, other manufacturers supply their labels on plastic spools – which can’t be recycled. So Silver Fox’s labels are demonstrably more environmentally friendly.

“Silver Fox is very easy to deal with,” Bruce said. “Any time we’ve had a question, we simply pick up the phone.

“Silver Fox sent somebody to install our new system but it was clear that, because of Silver Fox’s attention to detail, we could have installed it ourselves. We were surprised to receive follow-up calls from them to make sure all was OK. In our experience, this is unusual - and most welcome. We also give Silver Fox feedback regarding any issues we may have or suggestions for improvement - which they act upon.

“What surprised us was that they welcome our feedback! For example, the special metal plate that guides the labels into the print head lay in position and, we felt, wasn’t held tightly enough; so Nick Michaelson, Silver Fox’s CEO, together with his technical team, reviewed our feedback. Within days, they produced a modification to the guidance system that totally addressed the issue. It now fits really firmly – perfect!

“We’re delighted with both the products and the customer service we get from Silver Fox,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll be using more and more Silver Fox products – to help us exceed our customers’ expectations.”

“I see our relationship with Silver Fox progressing very nicely. We’re involved with some large Network Rail and Transport for London (TFL) projects - and the labelling of cables is a requirement on most electrical installations these days. Silver Fox is a great company to do business with and is very supportive as a supplier,” said Bruce.

By Bob Little