Merging Talent and Technology
After profiling MultiCam in May 2021, Business in Focus has circled back to hear what has happened over the ensuing year. As it turns out, the company has big news, from an exciting change in ownership to innovative new products, so this update is not to be missed.
Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems (Kongsberg PCS) acquired MultiCam in August 2021. The acquisition came shortly after Kongsberg PCS became a standalone business, bought by private equity company OpenGate Capital on April 1, 2021. “We really wanted to quickly expand the Kongsberg PCS business and the significant adjacent markets where Kongsberg doesn’t operate—where MultiCam does operate,” says Kongsberg PCS CEO Stuart Fox.
MultiCam specializes in industrial cutting solutions including Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router, laser, plasma, waterjet, and knife cutting machines, “whereas Kongsberg PCS has really been focused in the graphic arts, sign display, printed media, commercial print,” Fox explains. “So the attractiveness of MultiCam was its complementary nature of the business they are in.” In addition, MultiCam operates a manufacturing facility in Dallas, Texas that will benefit Kongsberg PCS. “Really there are some great opportunities and synergies,” Fox says.
By combining both companies’ strengths, the team will “develop a product roadmap that is absolutely second to none in the industry today,” says MultiCam Digital Finishing Product Manager, Mark Packman. “Kongsberg was actually the leader in the packaging industry and MultiCam was one of the leaders in the print service provider market space. Now we can merge not only the technologies into each of our systems, but now take on a much broader scope of the marketplace.”
The team has taken the time to ensure a smooth transition for all parties, carefully managing “how we will take two companies’ technologies, knowledge, skills, and manufacturing base and really leverage our journey going forward,” Fox explains. Merging talent and technology is not simple or straightforward, but the payoff will be well worth the effort. “Really, that’s what the customer is going to benefit from, [the] combination of two technologies from two companies with many, many years in business and knowledge within the teams,” Fox says. “It’s a bag of opportunities.”
“One of the great things about coming together as one company is we have a vast level of expertise in all sides of our digital finishing, our routing, as well as our fabrication,” Packman adds.
Router Product Manager, Russell Boudria, says that the last year “has been a whirlwind, a very exciting time for MultiCam to join strengths with Kongsberg, [which] is a world-class manufacturer with strength in the European market. Combining our strengths in the Americas is an excellent tag team. It was very interesting during our collaborations; there was very little product overlap at all.”
The Celero 4 Series Flatbed Cutter and Router is an excellent example of how Kongsberg PCS and MultiCam have come together to produce a product that draws from the best of both companies. “That’s our latest innovation,” Packman says. Manufactured in MultiCam’s Dallas facility and specially engineered for today’s fast-paced printing industry, the Celero Series is composed of advanced flatbed cutting systems with cutting capabilities for both rigid and flexible substrates, as well as roll media. This series is known for its accurate, smooth motion and ease of use, making it ideal for both large and small businesses, and is customizable to fit specific needs.
Released in 2021, Celero 4—the latest in the series—boasts the capabilities of previous Celero models while adding additional advantages to meet customers’ latest needs. The Celero 4 “maintains our auto knife changing capabilities which nobody else in the marketplace has,” Packman says, while simultaneously reducing labor cost and waste. The new model is specially designed to accommodate wider materials to meet the demands of the market, particularly in Europe. And, the Celero 4 “fits a price for performance that allows it to compete against lower priced units that are much less productive [as well as] much higher priced units, which are at the same performance level,” Packman says.
“It really is a collection of some of the great technologies that MultiCam has been developing over the previous years,” Fox adds. “We have a very sharply focused product for the customers and that’s something that I think also echoes the two businesses—the MultiCam and the Kongsberg businesses—coming together, that we really are customer-focused. We want to bring solutions that answer customer needs or problems and not just technology solutions… They really have to answer a customer need.”
The Apex5R is another innovative, newly available product. “That’s the next step forward in the Apex family of routers,” Fox says. “[It’s] really exciting if you look at the very broad portfolio that MultiCam has in routers, from entry-level, classic machines through to the latest and greatest in the 5R.” Introduced in 2021, the 5R is “going to be shipping its first units this year and so we are really excited about some of its capabilities,” Boudria adds.
The Apex5R builds on MultiCam’s popular APEX router product line. Designed with the production environment in mind, the latest model delivers remarkable speed, market-leading precision, powerful spindle options, and reliability. The most advanced router the team has built so far, it is able to significantly raise productivity for increased efficiency and higher profits, Boudria explains. Speeds exceed 4,500 inches per minute (IPM) with a 200 percent increase in acceleration over its predecessors. The Apex5R also boasts an ergonomic workstation paired with a generous 24” screen and comes fully integrated with productivity features, from surface probe and auto calibration sensor to motorized auto-height dust boot. The product can take on tough materials including thick aluminum plate and extrusion, industrial plastics, and even advanced materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber—without lowering productivity or quality. “5R has the most expanded capabilities for multiple materials,” Boudria summarizes.
Company leadership is excited to continue to bring together the strengths of Kongsberg PCS and MultiCam to create the best possible products for the market. In fact, at the time of this interview, the R&D teams of both businesses were slated to get together the following week—one of many meetings where they will combine approximately 80 years of engineering experience. “MultiCam has great knowledge and great skills—how to manufacture components, steel assemblies, design them in-house,” Fox says. “Kongsberg has a different philosophy when it comes to tooling. They’re different designs, they look different. Bringing the teams together is really going to be an enjoyable but big task, to really then take the best technologies and make them address customer needs. So one of the big goals going forward is to really bring the two technologies together.”
The company’s focus will extend to customers in addition to product development. “As a team we want to really put the customer front and center and focus on improving service, extending the range of training that can be offered to customers, and [providing] training as well for the Kongsberg and MultiCam teams in both sales and IT,” Fox says. “We really want to grow the business and actually have a new culture for both businesses as they come together… It means we are going to have better products going forward, more innovation, newer technologies.”
The team has already started development on the next generation of products. “We have on both sides some really nice work going on today on some technologies that we’ll bring in the future,” Fox says. “So we’ve already started projects where we can drive businesses going forward with newer and more customer-focused machines for the future.”