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Splice Twice? Not on Your Life!

Remember the last time you missed a splice? Not a good day, was it? If there's one word to describe the new splicing equipment available today, it's “reliable.”

Phil Seay, VP, Inta-Roto, Richmond, VA, says, “The most significant change in recent years has been the reliability factor based on better drive and control systems able to locate more accurately where the tape line is on a roll to be spliced. That's due to the new microprocessor and PLC controls, and the drive systems are much more sophisticated than they were.

“New equipment makes productivity increase, certainly immensely for a continuous operation versus a stop-and-go type of operation where generally you lose a great deal of product when you stop a line.”

Roger Cederholm, president, Martin Automatic, Rockford, IL, says, “If you can do a zero-speed splice, it will always be more reliable than a flying splice. On its best day, a flying splicer will make 99½% of the splices attempted, and a zero-speed splicer on its worst day will make 99½%.”

Advancements have been made in flying splicers, which require a higher level of controls sophistication, to make them reliable, says Cederholm. “Splices made versus splices attempted are better on a newer flying splicer than on an older one because motors, drives, and PLCs have added to their reliability. With a zero-speed splicer, all you have to do is stop and start, so it's not as difficult to make a successful splice.

“Materials are becoming more difficult and more specialized,” Cederholm adds. “Some don't stick together very well; some can't hold a vacuum; some I would call more air than actual material. To make the most reliable splice, you want a zero-speed transfer because as the speeds go up, and the materials get more sensitive, and the rolls become less perfect, it becomes more difficult to do a flying transfer.

“We see a tremendous amount of growth in heat seal splices because that eliminates one more thing from the process — tape. The operator does not have to put the adhesive on the material. The machine automatically fuses the material together. That means it's all virgin material, and they don't have to cull the splice; they can actually sell that material.”

Splicer manufacturers are tailoring equipment to specific markets today, says Darrel Spors, sales manager at KTI Keene Technology, South Beloit, IL. “Splicers have been introduced for the label application and plastic sleeve industries. The basic splicer design I see in the future is going to be just like we've seen for the past few years but with different twists on it to accommodate a new industry.”

Splicing in register is getting more refined, Spors adds, and “now we cut between labels or cut to label count or impression count. For instance, if you want 1,000 impressions on a roll, no more, no less, we count those out and make the transfer right in between the label at that point.” Other advancements include built-in diagnostics accessible from the control panel and phone line diagnostics, he says.

Cederholm says significant developments have been made in carbon fiber rollers to allow zero-speed splicing at even higher speeds. Operator convenience is another factor. “Making sure operators do not have to handle heavy core shafts, and having things like lift and load integrated into the machine become very important, particularly for the big companies, but it should be important for everyone.”

With the increase in productivity and the reduction of waste, the last thing you need to consider, Spors says, is “what to do with all the extra money you're going to make when you put in one of these new splicers.”


 

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