- April 01, 2001, Deborah Donberg, Managing Editor
Start-up company W.E. Slitt is already a full-service contract slitter thanks to the versatility and efficiency of Webco Engineering equipment.
Recognizing a need and filling it — that could be the universal recipe for success. Just ask Gene Melchi and his wife Bobi, who founded W.E. Slitt Co. a year ago after spotting the need for an independent contract converter specializing in slitting/rewinding in the southwestern corner of Michigan.
Gene Melchi explains that in the past, companies and mills in that area were obliged to ship their slitting/rewinding needs much too far afield. The costs involved in transport and material were having a direct effect on the bottom line, he reports, adding that sheeting facilities were in the near geographical area, but there was little capacity for custom slitting/rewinding.
Having been a key player in two existing and very successful converting (sheeting) companies, Melchi set about finding a suitable plant and location. The plant he selected is in Three Rivers, MI.
“The choice of location, and obviously the company name, were very instrumental in the marketing of the company,” says Melchi. “Although the immediate area is known for its board production and converting operations, we did not want to restrict our activities solely to board.
There is a market need to handle the widest possible range of substrates. We knew we had to offer a full slitting and rewinding service.”
Once the location was set, Melchi took the next step: finding the right equipment.
Seeking a Meaningful Relationship
Melchi did not want to simply buy a slitter/rewinder; he wanted a relationship with a supplier that would recognize fully his unique situation starting up a new company.
“I approached Webco,” Melchi explains, “because I knew of their reputation, activities, customer loyalty, quality of equipment, and after-sales support for many years. I've seen their equipment installations first-hand. They are a very progressive company; they've always exhibited new machinery and innovations at the CMM exhibitions.”
He adds, “An example of this is illustrated in their development emphasis on operational efficiency as well as increasing maximum machine speeds. There is no question that the speed of equipment is important to us. But as a contract converter, I knew that, potentially, we would be dealing with many different products with an equal number of trim widths and slit changes on a daily, even hourly, basis. In this scenario, increasing the machine speed isn't the key factor to increasing productivity — operational efficiency ‘uptime’ has the most and immediate effect on profitability.”
For W.E. Slitt Co. to build a good solid customer base, its slitter/rewinder had to be sufficiently flexible and versatile to handle the diverse needs that the industry would place on it. The geographic location and company objectives would require a piece of equipment with the capacity to handle product from papers through to heavyweight boards.
The boards W.E. Slitt would run typically require larger diameters and higher tensions, while the papers typically need the greater sensitivity and precision in roll structure control. In addition, the slitter/rewinder would need the capacity to efficiently convert either board or paper into narrow slit widths, often across the full width of the machine.
So Melchi now had the location, the supplier, and the specs. The result was a Webco TDS-HD two-drum slitter/rewinder.
Features Promote Flexibility
The Webco two-drum slitter/rewinder has a trim width of 84 in. and a rewind and unwind diameter also of 84 in. It is a high-speed winder that can run up to 4,500 fpm and handle slit widths of less than 3 in.
Melchi reports that a major benefit to effective roll density control is the unique, closed loop rider roll system. This and many other features are controlled and programmed through the comprehensive, PC-based touchscreen operator interface.
As a major contribution to operational efficiently, the TDS-HD has the capacity to deliver the rewind set to the lowering table with the tails of the slit strips automatically cut off and taped down.
The operator can display the key components in the make-up of each rewind set graphically, an invaluable tool in the process of building quality rolls with good and consistent roll density, says Melchi.
Melchi also notes that the heavy-duty Webco Model Ssl unwind, with a 14,000-lb capacity and multiple braking and tension options, contributes to the winder's overall versatility. “I am able to run the heaviest boards as well as the lightest weight papers effectively.”
“The unique features and operational efficiency benefits that the Webco TDS-HD offer contribute significantly to maximizing our run time and, subsequently, our competitiveness,” Melchi reports. There are less expensive machines available but not with these features. If we are to build a customer base effectively, we need to be able to position ourselves as a ‘top-shelf’ company producing quality service with facilities and equipment to match.”
W.E. Slitt Co. currently is running a two-shift operation, and the future looks excellent. Melchi sees plenty of opportunity for growth, and the present facility offers capacity for significant expansion. It's a success story that began, as so many do, with someone recognizing a need and finding a way to fill it.
W.E. Slitt Co., Three Rivers, MI; 616/273-4477
Webco Engineering Westborough, MA; 508/366-7384