- July 31, 2004, Carrie Cleaveland, Editorial Intern
Winders may not cost six million dollars, but like that 1970s television phenomenon, The Six Million Dollar Man, we have the technology to build them better, stronger, and faster.
Charles Bailey, film industry sales manager at Faustel, Germantown, WI (faustel.com), credits winders today as having improved winding that consistently makes excellent, shippable, quality rolls with respect to roll density and hardness, improved control of the winding process with DC digital, AC Vector, or servo motors, improved tension control, better shafting, faster and cleaner transfers, and faster installation and start up.
Regional and marketing manager for Martin Automatic, Rockford, IL (martinautomatic.com), Craig Thompson, agrees. “The newer winders offer the operators more tunable adjustments that can dramatically affect the quality of a wound roll,” he says. “An educated operator now has the opportunity to wind difficult materials, at larger diameters, than older machines would allow.”
Although the purpose of machinery generally has been believed to ameliorate — or at the very least minimize — challenges in the workplace, for Thompson, winding equipment is an exception.
“Rather than minimizing challenges, today’s winders are intended to minimize waste — waste associated with expensive substrates lost due to manual roll changes, waste from poor winding control, waste from having to employ secondary offline processes, wasted productivity from having to shut down the line for roll changes, or from having to run slower than desired because of limited or old technology.”
For Bailey, minimizing challenges for converters is better achieved through enhancement of operational ease. Not only are winders easier to operate, Bailey says, they offer better controls, better components, and greater reliability. “More reliable transfers [provide] higher efficiencies,” he says.
When it comes to the purchase of a new winder, Thompson and Bailey agree it pays to be thorough. “The equipment supplier should ask an exhaustive number of questions,” says Thompson, “but if he doesn’t, the converter needs to take the lead — or take it to another supplier.” Bailey adds, “First, it is important to define and understand the use or application for the winder and then develop specifications. The specifications should begin by defining the purpose of the winder.”
According to Bailey, additional requirements to consider include the types of materials to be wound, processing requirements such as tension, speed, diameter, and web widths, shafted vs. shaftless operation, types of drives, and of course, location and space requirements. To this list Thompson adds the consideration of what, if any, type of finished roll handling is expected. He also adds that with regard to process, those questions would include — but certainly not be limited to:
- What tensions does it need to run?
- Will taper-tension from the winder affect the process?
- Is a lay-on roll required?
- What hardness of roll is required by the converter’s customer, and can the winder provide this?
- Is it equipped with the correct slitting and ribbon separation package?
- What sidewall quality is required?
- Do I need to transfer on diameter, web length, or based on the number of products in the roll?
- Is a shafted unit and its attendant shaft handling acceptable, or is a shaftless or cantilevered unit an affordable plus or even a necessity?
What’s down the road? “It may be that future developments will be along the lines of reducing this waste,” Thompson says. “In order to compete in the global economy, converters need to [upgrade speed capacity] and automate their lines. We expect to see more automation of roll-to-roll processes and sub-processes.”
Bailey echoes Thompson’s waste-reduction concerns, hoping for truly scrapless winding in future trends. He says other develoments to look for include 100% uptime, enhanced robotic automation of roll handling, higher speeds, and more versatility to enable short runs and more varied products. Thompson says, “I suspect most converters desire challenges as they present opportunities for success.” Winder manufacturers are more than happy to provide equipment in answer to those opportunities.
Even without bionic man Steve Austin’s super powers, winders already have developed capabilities to run above and beyond expectations and have nowhere to go but up.
Restrictions of time and space limit the number of companies, products, and trends that we can discuss in these reports. For additional information, see PFFC’s features and departments each month, consult the June Buyers Guide, and check pffc-online.com.