Slitter Rewinder Q&A for Flexible Packaging

Release Date: 03/09/2011

In the January/February 2011 edition of Flexible Packaging magazine, Michael Pappas, president of Catbridge Machinery, answered some questions on slitting rewinding. The flexible packaging market is continually changing and growing and requires converting machinery that can keep pace.

Below are some excerpts from the article and the full interview:

Q: How would you characterize this market?

A: In a word, dynamic, across a number of levels. First, no industry we serve has faster changing, more consumer-driven products than flexible packaging. Almost monthly innovations in packaging materials and processes dictate new and better materials from converters. The challenges trickle down quickly to machine builders. More precise, more efficient and faster labor saving machinery is required. Also, growth overall, combined with consolidation in recent years, have companies scrambling to update machinery and revise processes. This presents challenges for machine builders. The focus must be on not just today’s products and features, but in anticipation of tomorrows as well.

Q: What kinds of trends/technologies is the slitting/rewinding sector seeing?

A: In the last few years, a clear trend has been the focus on two areas: First, reducing downtime between sets. We have done studies for our customers and regularly assist them in collecting data to tell us both what percentage of a shift their slitters are actually running, versus the percentage they are down between sets (for roll changes, set-up changes, core placement, etc.). The average we have found is in the 25 percent to 35 percent range. This must be improved. Also, as slitter speeds and uptimes increase, more rolls are coming off and the problem becomes what to do with them. They must be removed from the slitter quickly but also in a way that facilitates ease of packing and minimizes operator time and fatigue. These are challenging areas.

Q: Do you see anything missing in this portion of the flexible packaging industry?

A: Yes, in the area of roll presentation for packaging. A better word than missing might be “evolving.” As slitters become faster and cycle times shorter, production challenges naturally shift to the packaging part of the process. The challenge becomes getting rolls away from the slitter quickly and in such an orientation as to allow any labeling required to be done quickly, and the rolls then presented in an optimal position for packaging. This is especially true in flexible packaging where there are a wide variety of packaging methods and requirements. Converters must often be ready to bag and box, shrink wrap, place on a skid with liners between rolls, place in boxes, etc. An integrated and versatile system of roll discharge and packaging is quickly becoming the focus.

Q: What can be improved upon when a converter is looking for better slitting/rewinding?

A: First, we should define “better,” it may mean different things to different companies. For some, it would be simply more rolls per shift off their slitters. For others, better roll build and edge quality are critical. For others still, faster, more precise set-ups and core alignment are most important. And always, ergonomic “friendliness” to the operator must be a focus. With ever-faster machines this area is a prime concern.

To read the magazine article, click on the following link:

To read the entire interview, click on the following link:

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