Digital Magazine

Future trends and new production monitoring tools within the converting industry

Interview with Zeno Zonato, Sales Director Flexible packaging at LAEM IMS - a brand of IMS TECHNOLOGIES

Over the last few years, have you noticed any changes in the needs or demands for converting equipment? If so, what are the trends?

Ever increasing production cost and end users’ request for shorter lead time have pushed converters to search the market for machines with reduced set up time, shorter cycle change and automatic finished roll handling.

A great deal of converters with old dual shafts slitter rewinders have seen double turret machines as the perfect answer for their questions.

Very shortchange cycle time and the increasing offer of automatic solutions for finished rolls handling apparently match this market condition; yet, as it often happens, not always a good solution is the right fit for all situations.

The time needed to pass from a cycle to the next one, when using a dual shaft machine, depends on a few job parameters: number of rolls, their outside diameter and the time needed to reach final roll dimensions.

Let’s imagine that the job is made of 7 across or more, with a relatively small outside diameter, and the total job length is pretty long; then yes, a double turret machine can “kill” downtime.

On a dual shaft slitter, as a matter of fact, cycles would be pretty short in view of the production of small end roll, whilst the time that machine spends “still” would be pretty long.

Rolls need to be unloaded, new cores have to be positioned, webs need to be glued to new cores and first revolutions of new cores must be checked to make sure winding is ok.

An automatic cycle change would help a lot. The preparation of the next rolls, on the non-working shafts, will take place while the slitter is winding rolls on working shafts.

But what when the job is made of 3 or 4 across, with a large outside diameter, a short total job length and few minutes are needed to reach final roll dimension?

Change cycle time will be a fraction of the total job time, and after a couple of mother rolls it is anyway time to pass to the next job and to another set up.

A double turret slitter will never have the chance to express its full potential, which is exactly the reduction of change cycle time.

In specific situations, for many jobs, it is surely better to invest in a dual shaft slitter that is able to be ready for the next job in a very short time.

When all job parameters, including taper tension and knives positioning, are saved in the PLC of slitter and are easily retrieved from the recipe, machine will be ready to start by the time new mother roll is loaded at unwinder.

From an educational perspective, what do you wish that your customers knew before your arrive to demonstrate equipment?

Customers should be aware of the nature of their jobs. They should be able to have the reply to questions like:

  • What is the typical order of your customers?
  • Long or short jobs?
  • How many across?
  • Small or large diameters?
  • If you have a mix, is it possible to specialize a slitter for short runs and another for long runs?
  • Have you ever thought of a doctor rewinder machine for roll-to-roll process (perforation, laser scribing, print inspection and roll “cleaning”) after printing and lamination but before slitting?
  • What is the most important time-consuming activity in your finishing department? Machine set up? Rolls conditioning and handling?
  • What is the most important cause of mistakes (losses) in your finishing department?

An awareness of the above would be a great help in the identification of the right machine among the wide product portfolio of LAEM IMS – a brand of IMS TECHNOLOGIES slitters. It is true that “all purpose” machines are very flexible, but they risk to be not the right match for jobs with very tight margins.

Most of the time the quest for low budget machines is based on the evidence of the results but not on an analysis of the causes: in the end, you need to treat the disease to eliminate the symptoms.

Looking ahead for the next few years, what types of changes or demands do you anticipate?

Customers who have done precise data analyses of their jobs and are able to specialize machines for different jobs will be able to compete and create profit in a market that will be even more demanding that the one of today.

Do you suggest ways for customers to track performance in their operations? If so, in general, what procedures do you recommend?

Customers must grow in their capacity to understand when more value and margin are created (which job? Under which condition? On which machine?) and schedule maintenance to prevent downtime.

Production process stops and changes should be programmed, not suffered. Also, in the right conditions, challenging jobs can be accepted at the right price and/or knowing upfront what risks are embedded in such a choice.

Customers will need to know exactly what they are good at, by gathering all kind of information available from machines designed to collect and distribute production data.

To reach all these purposes, our slitters can exchange data with ERP systems of customer and can be equipped with IMS TECHNOLOGIES industrial IoT platform, called MAIA (Machine Artificial Intelligence Application): an app that will monitor all productivity parameters, as well as all performance parameters. As a matter of fact, MAIA is a cloud-based platform that, thanks to the use of advanced analytics and AI, allows to collect, monitor and analyze data from machines in real-time with a positive impact on efficiency and product quality.

Zeno Zonato

Sales Director Flexible Packaging

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Subscribe to PFFC's EClips Newsletter