The year 2020 saw significant advancements in the converting technologies that accompany printing presses for flexible packaging. Both the traditional rotogravure presses or the new generation CI flexographic presses making their presence felt in this sector are tending to be more automated and faster. Overall flexible packaging has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic. The new league of presses supports high-quality printing with minimal wastage at higher speeds on the most critical substrates. They are also designed for faster changeovers to enable shorter runs, which are the order of the day. To complement these upstream machines, it is necessary that converting slitters, used to cut printed substrates into the width of individual packages, are also upgraded. Higher productivity is needed to avoid a bottleneck in slitting capacity. Otherwise, a converter would have to install a disproportionate number of slitter rewinders to support a production capacity enhanced by the addition of a new high-speed press. As a matter of fact, unlike printing and lamination machines, converting slitters are required to produce multiple finished reels from a single mother reel, and the load on them multiplies depending on the width of the final pouch. These machines have another set of challenges to overcome in job set-up and material handling, which are intricate and required more frequently. The complexity rises with multiple slits required at shorter time intervals necessitated by the higher thickness of substrates and laminates, together with higher speeds and smaller rewind diameters for the pouching and filling processes.
Apart from supporting a high production environment with a speed of 1,000 meters a minute, the ROBOSLIT plus dual turret slitter rewinder from SP Ultraflex Systems focuses on the critical areas of job set-up, material handling, and safety.
Automatic Job Set-up
Job set-up on a converting slitter rewinder is about aligning multiple cutters and cores to the package design. The ROBOSLIT plus features an automatic job set-up that carries out this repetitive task swiftly, flawlessly, and with the minimum passage of substrate, allowing one to slit and rewind ‘in register’ within the first few meters of a new job. Advantages include operator friendliness, faster set-ups, and reduced wastage, all of which add up to significant savings and a rapid ROI on the additional investment that this feature entails.
Operator fatigue is a double whammy. On the one hand, it is the primary cause of declining productivity during the shift. On the other, it takes its toll on human alertness, raising safety concerns and increasing the likelihood of mishaps. SP offers a host of integrated material handling solutions to reduce the time and effort required while handling unwinders and finished reels.
While safety is an area of focus in all machines manufactured by SP, it becomes even more critical as automation levels increase. To this end, the ROBOSLIT plus is equipped with various features for man-machine safety, such as interlocked guards for moving parts, area scanners, interlocked fencing, and safety ropes, among other warnings and protections.