Slitter Cuts Changeover Time

Brand Packaging Ltd., one of the U.K.'s largest privately owned manufacturers of flexible packaging materials, is getting big results with its recent purchase of Valmet's Titan TS 350 slitter/rewinder.

Based in Salford, Manchester, Brand focuses its business on supplying high quality packaging laminates in a variety of materials to a broad “blue chip” customer base. This includes world leaders such as Wrigley's, Lever Bros., Eastman Kodak, Cussons U, Ryvita, and Weetabix.

Before the purchase of the TS 350, Brand Packaging was already an established customer for Titan's slitting and rewinding equipment, owning three SR6 slitters. Other Valmet equipment includes two Rotomec gravure printing presses (one six-color and one eight-color machine, both with an 800-mm web width) and a Rotomec 1000-mm-wide extrusion coating machine.

Prior to the arrival of the Titan TS 350, production manager Tony Watton was aware that, although his SR6s were performing well, producing in the region of 60,000 linear m/machine on an eight-hour shift, irrecoverable time was being lost during roll changeovers.

Even though the company's operators are said to be very experienced, human and physical limitations meant that typically a roll change would take from 4-5 min. That multiplied over a 24-hr/5-day-a-week time frame, resulted in a considerable loss of output that couldn't be recovered.

Finding a Solution
For Brand Packaging, the answer to the problem was the Titan TS 350 which, unlike the SR6, is a turreting slitter/rewinder (winding continues during slit roll unloading and re-coring).

“The TS 350 was a much larger investment for us,” explains Watton, “but it has paid off handsomely, and we are very happy with its performance. It is doing exactly what we bought it for.”

Since the TS 350 was installed in January 2001, it has helped boost the company's slitting productivity by almost 50%, with a throughput on an 8-hr shift of 100,000 linear m or more, depending on the material being run.

Brand Packaging processes a wide range of flexible packaging materials from 12 micron to 250 gsm weights, including aluminium foil, cellophane, polyvinyl chloride, paper, multilaminates, and plastic films. “If we can print on it, we will run it,” comments Watton.

Operators Have a Voice
Brand Packaging has been operating as a form of capitalist cooperative since 1985, when 115 employees (now increased to 140) bought the company from the Jefferson Smurfit Group. All relevant employees have the opportunity to participate in decisionmaking, and in the case of the Titan TS 350, the operators certainly had an important contribution to make.

Slitting team leader Chris Barnes, like most of the workforce, has undergone training on the TS 350. For Barnes, the most impressive feature of the slitter has been the speed of roll changeover.

“It is virtually continuous and fully automatic. All we have to do is spray a touch of water on each new core for the new tail to hold on to, [once it has been cut], and we are back in full production, literally within 30 seconds or less, every time.”

Stripping the finished rolls is equally simple, with the swing-out rewind shafts coupling up to an unloading tower from which the rolls are manually placed onto a pallet. While this and re-coring are carried out, the machine continues to slit the next set of rolls at its maximum speed of 450 mpm. The Titan also can provide a semi-automated roll stripping version of the TS 350, should a customer require it.

Operators also are pleased with the simplicity of the slitter/rewinder controls, reports Watton. The oldest Titan SR6 at Brand Packaging, which was commissioned in 1991, uses analog controls. By comparison, the TS 350 has the latest touchscreen, user-friendly computer control desk.

What's next for Brand Packaging? The company already has begun a phased capital investment program that includes new Titan ‘Quickshaft’ differential rewind shafts, recently fitted to one of the older Titan SR6 slitter/rewinders, and it is currently looking at other ways to further increase production during 2002.

Valmet Converting, Bedford, U.K.;

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