Quick changeovers, quality top bagmaking demands.

Manufacturers and suppliers of bagmaking machinery and equipment are finding that quick changeover, servo drives and computer controls are essential in providing the quality their customers demand, according to a recent survey by PAPER, FILM & FOIL CONVERTER.

"People are looking for faster changeovers. Our customers are being asked to make smaller runs and because of that they're more interested in a machine they can changeover easier and faster," Brian Niemuth, sales manager for Central region, H. G. Weber, Kiel, WI, said. "We have an ongoing developmental program, I'll call it internal plant orders, where we make a list of changes we want to make, like speed of adjustment in changeover, always in changeover because people are looking for things to work easier."

Mark Forsberg, sales, Proven Designs Inc., Palmyra, NY. is also seeing a focus on quick changeover. "Smaller, more versatile machinery that offers quick changeover is popular for rapid product change."

Wallace Nard, president of the Ameriflex Group Inc., Wheaton, IL, agrees. "Quick changeover features are what customers want to improve production."

According to Jim Lepp, sales manager for Chadwick Inc., Green Bay, WI, "Customer concerns are quick changeover, shorter production runs, further brand segmentation, And it's expensive to have machines down on makeready. We're trying to accommodate increasing production through changeover."

At FAS Converting Machinery AB, Ystad, Sweden, Orjan Magnusson, president, said, "One trend among machinery manufacturers has been to put servo motors in places where you really don't need to do this - more as a gimmick. There are only a few applications where the advantages of a servo drive is really necessary. Seems to be more important to be able to show, in sales literature, that we have servo controls."

Another bagmaking trend is the use of servo drives. "I see a trend toward servo drives, higher speeds and cycling rates. Any changes we have in mind right now have to do with replacing clutch units with servo drives to increase speed and equipment that increases sealing rates," Herbert Baier, president, Peco Inc., Fairfield, NJ, said.

"The servo drive systems put on the machines are a trend, and we deal in used trade and we see that a lot," Kevin Quinn, sales, Mark One Machinery Sales Ltd., Bayshore, NY, said. "Servo drives have a need to go faster. If you're not running servo drive, you're not meeting the competition."

According to Tom Helming, product sales manager for film converting machinery, Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc., Gloucester, MA, current trends are "certainly the continued implementation and integration of servo in technology and the obtaining of higher speeds."

Werner Paulhartt, sales manager, Kampf Machinery, Nashville, TN, noted the impact the advent of servo tech has had on maintenance. "Mechanical machines are mostly electric and you can't get any old mechanic to service the machine. People who love the machine and mechanical simplicity love the electronic sophistication. But it's more difficult to maintain and troubleshoot. On the other hand, the electronic resists falling apart in a short time, The maintenance has been reduced on modern machinery."

H. G. Weber is seeing the use of computer controls as a trend, according to Niemuth. "Over the past few years, we've been getting requests for programmable-logic controls. We've had a machine that, when a roll depleted, we had electronics tied into a programmable-logic control and it ramped back down immediately."

Battenfeld Gloucester's Helming said, "Customers look for high speeds and more computer controls. We showed a new service of computer control machinery at Pack Expo. We'll also show it at CMM - the Century 2000 series that's highspeed and highly sophisticated from a control point of view."

According to Hokosawa Alpine America's Nunes, "Computer controls give greater control over the entire process, not just certain aspects. It enables you to have greater capabilities in terms of maintenance and troubleshooting.

Garry Gould, president, at GN Packaging Equipment, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, said the company is developing up-to-date equipment with computer technology that operates by itself. "Five years ago most units weren't all computer driven, now the maintenance is lower and we'll continue to evolve as computers develop. It'll get nothing but better."

According FAS's Magnusson, "Increasing use of PC equipment in machinery will give a better possibility for storing various data, for setting up different jobs as well as for keeping control of the production. The increasing use of servo-controlled machines, whether necessary or not, also requires more sophisticated PC equipment."

Quality is always a customer concern and demand for manufacturers and suppliers. H. G. Weber's Niemuth said, "The biggest thing is production-worthy equipment that can hold up to around-the-clock running. Appearance can get into that. A lot of quality is perception. They think quality is gone if it doesn't have a good appearance. As long as the machine does what it's supposed to and holds up for thousands of hours."

"Specific customer concerns are the quality of equipment which we have no problem with, dependability, consistent productivity and price sensitivity although many understand with price comes quality," CMD's Starszak said, "They want to know, will our machinery work well with the application? We have to make modifications for them, They have to know we're flexible with drives and fuses, and they want us to be responsive to that. They're looking for productivity.

"If you go strictly by perception of the machine you'll see its robust construction, it's well made. Quality is never a problem. The difference from the old machines is amazing, not that they didn't work well. The machines have the technology to produce the way they should," he said.

At Proven Designs, quality is also an issue. "Quality as it relates to uptime is a concern for customers. A converter can't afford downtime. It has to be reliability and uptime," Forsberg said. "A converter can't hang a half million dollars on a product unless it's a quality product. No one can match us for quality and productivity because of our engineering. We give a machine that matches or comes close to zero defects."

Peco's Baler said that very high quality is an issue. "Our customers want to keep their machine running continuously for at least 30 days," he said.

"Quality is always a number-one concern. It's driving the growth in the industry" Chadwick's Lepp said.

Some of the companies are in the process of developing or upgrading machinery. At Kampf Machinery, Paulhartt said, "LEMO has redesigned its equipment to feature high-speed servo tech which is common nowadays. We've had tremendous success with the t-shirt bag machine. It's probably the fastest and most efficient on the market right now. At the end of last year, LEMO revitalized the patch-reinforced handle machine. It's a bit more expensive bag because print adds value to it. It's made from film sheeting and reaches 200 cycles/min., that's almost twice as much as the last generation."

Hokosawa Alpine is "working on increasing a series of machines by up to 20% in terms of speed capabilities," Nunes said. And H. G. Weber is looking for "new ways to make a bag that reduces materials used."

"We're always evolving from our own research and development and customer concerns. We're developing draw tape technology right now. The drum size on an older machine was modified to allow for a longer dwell time so a better seal can be made of a higher gauge of film could he used. It's clearly better at what it does if you want the assurance," CMD's Starszak said.

At Curioni Sun Srl, Galganano, Italy, an NC electronic device is available as an option for the quick set-up of both the handle positions over the web and the bag width. It allows the machine to fully change over in just two hours, according to Carla Movi, commercial manager.

In addition, a new study is being worked out for the realization of two-ply bags with or without twisted-paper cord handle in-between, which is common in the pet food, charcoal and diaper industries.

Despite the speed of recent developments, Kampf's Paulhartt believes the industry has reached a technological plateau. "All manufacturers are producing similar quality, and machines produce a better product than the past.

"The inherent problems of high-speed conversion have been overcome by technological improvements. Even different films aren't able to be converted at low speeds. Improvements in dwell time because of electronic controls opened new avenues of processing materials," he said. "There have been major changes over the years. It's been in the film itself and the technology to slit seal the film. Ten years ago, nobody dared to slit seal high-density film under 200 fpm, now it's up to an excess of 300 fpm as well as improvements in film compositions."

According to GN Packaging's Gould, "Over the last several years, customers are dealing with more of a variety of structures of film. They're constantly changing structures."

At Peco, Baier agrees. "The materials today are definitely better. We're faced with line speeds of 200-250 fpm because linear-low density can be pulled down to a half million. The product is extremely strong and resin suppliers are making better materials."


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