Take controls31 May 2016
Automation allows converters to deliver bigger orders in shorter times. Whether inspecting a line or roll to ensure it is properly aligned, or testing the run for defects or errors, controls are steadily becoming more important to operators and management. Any shortcuts taken will result in lost resources, reduced revenue and tarnished reputations.
Controls are in place to support and enhance the running of converting lines. While there are numerous branches of controls available - motors, drives, weighing and measuring, for examples - this article will focus on two key elements: thickness gauging and inspection. With drupa beginning at the end of this month and the recent market and needs, controls are at the forefront of the minds of converters and end users.
Picture the scene; you have a large order of shrink-sleeve labels for a major customer that needs to take delivery within 72 hours. The line is ready, the materials are purchased and the machines are all switched on. Your operators are monitoring output and, as you have done many times in the past, you consider the job done. Later that day, you receive bad news: the thickness of the film was wrong and it clogged the machine after printing. The only solution is to disassemble and clean the machines, purchase more materials at the right gauge and start the whole process again. Within the space of about two hours, you have lost a client, you have lost time and revenue, and your slumber will be marred by the anxiety stemming from this unfortunate fiasco.
This happened to a major company about seven years ago. The simple truth is that an inspection or vision system or gauge control would have prevented this calamity. With this cautionary tale in our minds, however, we can consider some of the latest systems available to protect converters.
Inline print-quality inspection
Lake Image Systems has recently launched the Discovery Roll Inspector, an inline print-quality inspection system for web printers that combines the quality, speed, and ease of implementation.
The print-quality inspection system, which provides 100% inspection, is primarily aimed at the laser and inkjet web market. It uses sophisticated software tools to analyse numerous areas of interest (AOIs) simultaneously and apply multiple quality tests per page. This enables the roll inspector to detect print defects such as ink spots, toner streaks, voids, colour variations, and image and barcode quality issues. Optionally, the inspector checks the readability of barcodes, text, postal codes and MICR lines, and performs sequence checks, alignment and data verification for a variety of highly complex, data-extensive and variable documents.
The Discovery Roll Inspector is available in three configurations - view, standard and full - that address all levels of inspection requirements. This modular design enables clients to start with the view base system and upgrade to full when their requirements grow.
"The overwhelming feedback has been very positive, and we strongly believe the market conditions are ready for such a product," says Scott Stevens, president of Lake Image Systems. "The Discovery Roll Inspector has the ability to use sophisticated software tools to analyse multiple AOIs simultaneously and reliably apply multiple print-quality and data-verification tests per pages at speeds exceeding 1,000ft a minute. Furthermore, the system is designed for minimum operator interactions, and it has a low degree of false stops, which improve efficiency. This allows our clients to do 100% print-assurance-management cost effectively, while saving on expensive reruns and, more importantly, safeguarding them against potentially crippling financial risks."
Pharmaceutical packaging solution
Constantia Flexibles has introduced the live-stress check tool for its Coldform pharmaceutical packaging solution. The tool determines the strain level applied to Coldform foil, and the quality of the forming process when running on blister lines. Results are used to optimise the manufacturing process by uncovering improvements that can be made to plug designs and materials and set-up processes.
"The coordination of foil, tool and process parameters is a challenge at higher line speeds because foil damage - known as pinholes - can occur and lead to increased waste," says Willi Zuser, head of product development at Coldform Foil. "We have equipped our application equipment with a new live-stress check that determines the stress level on the foil during continuous production. For this purpose, a pattern of high-resolution dots can be printed on each square millimetre of the film during manufacturing. With the help of a camera system and advanced software, changes to the distances between the dots after the shaping process are identified to determine the degree to which the material has been stretched. If there has been too much stretching, parameters can be precisely adjusted, lowering the risk of waste."
The company offers an additional service that simulates cross-permeation in Coldform blister packs. This deals with the small amount of moisture that gathers along the inner layers of the blister's punched edge. Moisture permeation is only possible along the punched edge because the base foil's aluminium creates a 100% barrier against water and oxygen.
Cross-permeation can be controlled using laminates that have plastic layers to provide a higher barrier to prevent water vapour penetrating the inside layer. Polyvinyl chloride films can be substituted by polypropylene films for added protection. Cross-permeation can also be influenced by the blister's design; correcting this sort of systemic flaw involves adjusting the sealing area or eliminating blister perforations altogether.
The simulation assesses various plastics and makes design changes to address cross-permeation. The early stage test can improve products' shelf life while avoiding expensive mid-process reiterations, which increases speed to market, reduces material waste and improves productivity.
While there may be a plethora of possibilities when it comes to managing controls in converting, it is clear that avoiding errors, implementing preventative strategies and reacting quickly to any issues is essential.
Controls at drupa
Manroland will demonstrate a new concept at drupa, based on technology familiar from smartphones and tablets, which will provide the press operator with a multi-touch control panel.
The system guides operators through each step of the print process and the new touchscreen makes all the important functions readily available for quick access. The colour zone control is integrated into a moveable monitor on the control panel. It provides central control for the dampening unit and register. The control pad displays the system components and the sequential automated job set up. The multi-touch monitor displays all system components and is viewable on the accompanying WLAN-connected screen.
This gives the printer greater freedom to adjust the machine. The new system is available for magazine and newspaper machines.
QuadTech has secured leading industry experts to speak about print performance at drupa. The talks will help printers achieve better print quality and consistently meet the demands of their customers. The company will also show some of its new products such as a colour-quality product to collect and process colour measurements and correct ink formulations, a product to detect defects, and colour-measurement product to provide accurate inline L*a*b* measurements, which reduce make-ready time and ensure printed products meet customers' specifications.
With its RVS Multiseparator and updated ATEX-certified model, Kongskilde provides a competitive solution for demanding environments. The new separator helps companies and insurance providers wanting to minimise the risk of dust explosions when producing and processing paper, cardboard, plastic and biofuel applications.
The RVS ATEX separator is built from explosion-proof components that meet the requirements of explosion classes ST1 and ST2, and the ATEX standards non-zone, zones 21 and 22. It is a secure solution even in high-dust conditions. Kongskilde makes indoor and outdoor models.
The RVS ATEX separator is part of Kongskilde's pneumatic systems that remove debris, such as trimmings and slivers from punched pieces, from plastic, paper, cardboard and paperboard.
The RVS separator series includes variants that can process 5,000; 10,000 and 20,000m3 of air an hour. The largest model can handle up to 4,000kg of paper or plastic waste an hour.