Intro to Flexo Class is Outstanding Success

Fifteen box makers from plants across the country attended a two day seminar hosted by Fleetwood Fibre Packaging and Graphics in City of Industry, California and facilitated by Chris Heusch of ARCH Inc. in early November. Mark Norman of Simpson Tacoma Kraft Co., Jim Riga from Harris & Bruno Machine Co., Scott Davidson from Fleetwood-Fibre and Jeff Slone of Southern Graphic Systems supported the effort. Chris and his team of flexography experts presented a curriculum that was all encompassing in explaining the physics and science of the corrugated printing process. Each element of the process was presented, explained in detail, and was shown where and how it fit into and affected the process. Board characteristics, both the chemistry and application of inks, Anilox roll configuration, and machine aspects were the highlight of the seminar. Attendees were very excited to return to their plants and implement their new knowledge and commented on the quality of the class as being one of the finest on printing they had been to in their careers.

Contact Chris for course details and avaialability of upcoming courses. Chris@archlogic.com.


 

The Effects of the Pyramid Upside Down

We all tend to think that change in the industry will always be incremental. Perhaps the time has arrived when some revolutionary changes are required to stimulate the corrugated manufacturing and converting business. Wall Street for years has been down on the overall performance of corrugated producers but has failed to bring about substantial changes in the industry. It appears that the requirements of Wall Mart and other high volume discount retailers may be the catalyst for change.

Historically, the industry has been following the push principle of manufacturing. The paper and board mills set the tone. Corrugators, converters, distributors and customers consumed what was supplied. Prices went up when board supply came down, more common though, supply out-weight demand and prices for corrugated board have been depressed for most of the past 20 years.

In parallel, the push principle did not get lost on the major industry suppliers either. Corrugators, converting and material handling equipment are designed to handle the ever-increasing paper machine output. As a result, the industry is working mostly with corrugating equipment, which has its design roots going back to the need of the integrated board manufacturers; principally eating up square footage. The end user, i.e. distributor, retailer and consumer had to live with this reality. Then came Sam Walton and other visionaries that have changed the rules. We are now experiencing the pull principle of the supply chain. Most of every Consumer Products Company (CPC) and packaging supplier has gotten the message Ė it is Wall Martís way or the high way. Demand rules the supply chain. The packaging industry must change quickly to adapt to the new reality. Machinery suppliers will need to change their products to comprehensive solutions that will allow greater flexibility, scalability, rapid ROI, while still providing a sizable profit opportunity for the operator.

Based on the evidence, we believe that the basic manufacturing equipment will become smaller in size, more flexible, slower in speed, faster in set-up, and most of, they will require less capital investment. There will be more specialized plants serving major CPCs taking full advantage of full supply chain visibility and e-commerce. Designers of corrugated packaging and display manufacturers will have their office at major CPC or discount retailers, they will offer branded packaging solutions rather than nameless corrugated boxes.

Sounds like science fiction? Think again, its happening already! Email your thoughts and observations to: a.reissmann@att.net. We are looking forward to hearing from you and would like to invite you to discuss your marketing challenges with us.


MEMO: "E"-TO-"E" BUSINESS

Here: New Approach to Marketing Boxes

"E-Commerce", the web-based marketing of products, and "E-to-E business", web-based inter-industry sales are the wave that will impact our packaging-lives this decade.

Yes, E-to-E sales of boxes, not only stock boxes, but custom box orders and even displays is already happening. CAD and graphics programs allow us to present sellable product in three dimensions to the potential customer. A smart web-site with these design tools can offer a do-it-yourself packaging design and order tablet for packaging users. Simply select a box style from the library, input dimensions of the desired box, paste your existing graphics file - voila! enter order quantity. The logistic-integration software will check a possible delivery time in the box plant schedule and confirm the transaction online.

This is, indeed, no rocket science and should be utilized immediately.

However, the greater change will be brought on by "E-Commerce". The direct sales of product from the manufacturer to the consumer, eliminating traditional distribution and retail channels, threatens large quantities of box sales. At least the buyer of the packaging will change. Product is to be packaged when ordered, right at the manufacturers site; it is not being packaged as produced (this eliminates the possibility of co-packaging) or at distribution centers (which do not exist anymore).

Manufacturers, and I mean manufacturers of all kinds of wares, will change the way they approach selling and delivering their product. This opens dual opportunities: provide custom packaging at the time and location of order packing, and provide custom fulfillment of the web-placed orders.

Most manufacturers have limited experience in quick turn-around packaging and fulfillment. This is where independent corrugated box makers have plenty of sophistication to sell.

Just imagine a large publisher deciding to sell directly (not through Amazon or Barnes & Noble) over the web. They would require tens of thousands of custom packages daily. Sometimes simple single books, but often multiple combinations of multiple books to be packaged. Can you see the case-maker standing next to the bookbinding machine?

Or take Dell Computers. Who is going to erect a custom box plant for the daily supply of boxes in their parking lot? Not many different sizes, but exact quantities required. The space of a packaging warehouse could actually be a box-plant!

Here is change a-foot and great opportunity for us, Letís go!

Chris Heusch


MEMO: MODERN ROTARY DIE CUTTING

Over recent years we have seen a range of advances in rotary die cutters and rotary cutting technique. This has helped improve dimensional stability and register accuracy of rotary die cutting, closing the gap to flat bed die cutting in corrugated box making. Furthermore, some of the recent developments have further enhanced the productivity of rotary die cutter lines.

Lead Edge Feed with Dual Feed.

This Feature allows the machine to feed two successive blanks per machine revolution. For certain box sizes (21" - 27" thru machine) this can result in significant deckling advantages on the corrugator/laminator and increase dimensional accuracy due to elimination of "piggy back" effect.

Vacuum Sheet Transfer.

Aside from itís obvious advantages in the printing process (reduction of negative impact of warp, improved register), vacuum transfer in many cases also allows for reduction if not elimination of side trim, further increasing efficiency of rotary die cutting.

Sheet Re-Registration.

Some machines offer a realignment of the sheet just before introduction into the die cutting unit (to 1/64th). This can help masking feed problems and in some cases allows elimination of lead and trail trim, i.e.: elimination of lead and trail knives.

However, since the re-registration takes place after printing, it will not improve print to cut register in inline printed sheets. It is mainly a feature for preprint and litho sheets.

Direct Drive Die Cutter.

Independent direct drives for die drum and anvil drum eliminate gear vibration into the print units. Modern drives, free of the load of the remaining machine, will run undisturbed - better dimensional accuracy, again. Direct drive also allows for:

Variable Speed Anvil.

As the anvil covers wear (or are trimmed, see below) and the circumference of the anvil drum is reduced, surface speed of the anvil changes. This can negatively impact cut accuracy. It is therefore important, that the drive speed be adjusted to actual anvil diameter, preferably fully automatic.

Anvil Trimmer.

Anvil covers do not necessarily wear evenly across the machine. Often we find "ruts" where heavy die cutting of slots occurs. An uneven anvil causes the operator to apply excessive die cutting pressure, resulting in cracked scores and other deficiencies. A trimmer can be initiated to cut the anvil blankets down to a common, even level. After a cut the anvil speed is adjusted for the new diameter.

Mechanical Pin Stripper.

Available from The Ward Machinery Company only.

This device allows for mounting of a second tool on a drum located above and beyond the die drum. Scrap is retained in the die form by means of retainer pins. Following rotation the scrap is then picked up by the stripper die form and after further rotation ejected by means of sleeves onto an overhead scrap conveyor.

The pin stripper does allow for almost 100% clean stripping. This means scrap free loads to the customer, but more importantly: no jam-causing scrap downstream.

Vacuum Assisted Stacker.

Todays stackers are designed to positively control die cut blanks throughout the stacking process. Double, flat belts in the layboy section reduce smear, improve blank control and give better blank separation of multiouts. Hand-off to the incline conveyor has been improved to control the blank ("no fly zone"). Vacuum belts hold the blanks up to the accumulator. Infeed into which is controlled by large diameter wheels. Flexible dividers and multi-spanking ensure straight stacks.

A line of prefeeder, vacuum transfer-reregistration-direct drive-variable speed-trimmed-anvil rotary die cutter, and vacuum stacker should be expected to outproduce conventional machines (as in TAPPI Productivity Survey) by at least 25% or 5,500 sf..

With pre-existing business and a CTP/msf of $25 for die cut blanks this accounts for $ 1,100 per eight hour shift. At two shifts and 220 working days an increased contribution to profit of $ 484,000.

Counting total production of 27,500 sf/open machine hour at $ 25 CTP / msf this adds up to be $ 5,500 per eight hours, or for two shifts and 220 days an annual $ 2,420,000.

Beware! You must have the business to realize these numbers!

Nevertheless, not a bad figure for a $ 2,000,000 production line (Prefeeder $ 250,000, 3 color RDC $ 1,400,000, Vacuum Stacker $ 250,000, Installation etc.).

Chris Heusch


MEMO: MODERN ROTARY DIE CUTTING

Over recent years we have seen a range of advances in rotary die cutters and rotary cutting technique. This has helped improve dimensional stability and register accuracy of rotary die cutting, closing the gap to flat bed die cutting in corrugated box making. Furthermore, some of the recent developments have further enhanced the productivity of rotary die cutter lines.

Lead Edge Feed with Dual Feed.

This Feature allows the machine to feed two successive blanks per machine revolution. For certain box sizes (21" - 27" thru machine) this can result in significant deckling advantages on the corrugator/laminator and increase dimensional accuracy due to elimination of "piggy back" effect.

Vacuum Sheet Transfer.

Aside from itís obvious advantages in the printing process (reduction of negative impact of warp, improved register), vacuum transfer in many cases also allows for reduction if not elimination of side trim, further increasing efficiency of rotary die cutting.

Sheet Re-Registration.

Some machines offer a realignment of the sheet just before introduction into the die cutting unit (to 1/64th). This can help masking feed problems and in some cases allows elimination of lead and trail trim, i.e.: elimination of lead and trail knives.

However, since the re-registration takes place after printing, it will not improve print to cut register in inline printed sheets. It is mainly a feature for preprint and litho sheets.

Direct Drive Die Cutter.

Independent direct drives for die drum and anvil drum eliminate gear vibration into the print units. Modern drives, free of the load of the remaining machine, will run undisturbed - better dimensional accuracy, again. Direct drive also allows for:

Variable Speed Anvil.

As the anvil covers wear (or are trimmed, see below) and the circumference of the anvil drum is reduced, surface speed of the anvil changes. This can negatively impact cut accuracy. It is therefore important, that the drive speed be adjusted to actual anvil diameter, preferably fully automatic.

Anvil Trimmer.

Anvil covers do not necessarily wear evenly across the machine. Often we find "ruts" where heavy die cutting of slots occurs. An uneven anvil causes the operator to apply excessive die cutting pressure, resulting in cracked scores and other deficiencies. A trimmer can be initiated to cut the anvil blankets down to a common, even level. After a cut the anvil speed is adjusted for the new diameter.

Mechanical Pin Stripper.

Available from The Ward Machinery Company only.

This device allows for mounting of a second tool on a drum located above and beyond the die drum. Scrap is retained in the die form by means of retainer pins. Following rotation the scrap is then picked up by the stripper die form and after further rotation ejected by means of sleeves onto an overhead scrap conveyor.

The pin stripper does allow for almost 100% clean stripping. This means scrap free loads to the customer, but more importantly: no jam-causing scrap downstream.

Vacuum Assisted Stacker.

Todays stackers are designed to positively control die cut blanks throughout the stacking process. Double, flat belts in the layboy section reduce smear, improve blank control and give better blank separation of multiouts. Hand-off to the incline conveyor has been improved to control the blank ("no fly zone"). Vacuum belts hold the blanks up to the accumulator. Infeed into which is controlled by large diameter wheels. Flexible dividers and multi-spanking ensure straight stacks.

A line of prefeeder, vacuum transfer-reregistration-direct drive-variable speed-trimmed-anvil rotary die cutter, and vacuum stacker should be expected to outproduce conventional machines (as in TAPPI Productivity Survey) by at least 25% or 5,500 sf..

With pre-existing business and a CTP/msf of $25 for die cut blanks this accounts for $ 1,100 per eight hour shift. At two shifts and 220 working days an increased contribution to profit of $ 484,000.

Counting total production of 27,500 sf/open machine hour at $ 25 CTP / msf this adds up to be $ 5,500 per eight hours, or for two shifts and 220 days an annual $ 2,420,000.

Beware! You must have the business to realize these numbers!

Nevertheless, not a bad figure for a $ 2,000,000 production line (Prefeeder $ 250,000, 3 color RDC $ 1,400,000, Vacuum Stacker $ 250,000, Installation etc.).

Chris Heusch

Finksburg, September 16, 1996

this: consult/techmemo/rdctoday.01

ROTARY DIE CUTTER STACKER - SET UP

The functionality and run ability of the downstacker significantly influences the efficiency of a rotary die cutter production line. Set up of the stacker is not coincidental! In order to avoid multiple corrections, the stacker should be set up for every order, as part of the complete line set up procedure. The following thoughts are designed to help this process.

Layboy

The layboy or sandwich belt section serves multiple functions. It helps the product exit the die cut nip, particularly where a trailing score nip is absent. The layboy furthermore aids the waste stripping process and can separate multiple blanks across the machine width, as well as multiple ups.

For easiest preparation a fully die cut blank is slowly fed into the sandwich belts and stalled there. Pairs of belts should be aligned for maximum box control, holding every flap and preventing leading flaps from curling; also avoid direct contact with print area where possible.

For blank separation pairs of belts are angled using the alignment rider; please angle all pairs touching one given box by the same degree. Do use maximum number of belt-pairs per box; four pairs for single outs, three pairs for each two out, two pairs for three outs, four outs and up... good luck. Scrap, when cut into pieces smaller than three inches in across machine dimension, should not easily be caught in the belts. However, there are three waste ejection tools, that should be used properly: an airknife is provided to blow trim pieces off the top surface of boxes; aim the airflow @ 45 degrees against the blank travel direction. The beater bar, rotating in reverse direction separates trim pieces still held in the product; to prevent excessive skewing or curling of the box, the box must be held firmly by the sandwich belts. Only where the box can not be held firmly by the belts -four or more outs - multiple, loose leading flaps - should the beater run in forward direction; this tends to throw scrap on top of the product again. Adjust beater bar in height for optimum stripping at consistent blank control. Last not least, an assembly of multiple brushes will dislodge further scrap particles; again height adjustment and correct bristle length (wear part!) are important.

The layboy section should run at slightly higher speed than the main machine; this ensures proper die cutter evacuation and separation of multi up boxes.

Snubber Wheels

As the product exits the layboy section and floats onto the incline conveyor, it is being caught by a row of wheels. Again, a minimum of two wheels per box should be set. These wheels correct the skewed travel direction a box might have taken due to the separation angulation in the layboy section. Following the snubber wheels the box should travel squarely up the incline belts.

The wheels also allow arresting of boxes onto a slow traveling incline belt and sunbsequent overlay of following boxes in shingle mode. In order to set the snubber wheels, run one die cut blank out of the layboy section onto a stationary incline belt; with the boxes laying on the belt just out of the sandwich belts, set the wheels along the leading edge of the product.

Upper Control Wheels

At the entrance to the accumulator a set of wheels controls the entrance angle of the box going into the accumulator. This prevents premature diving of the leading edge of the box and the box subsequently being caught by any spankers that may be employed. Again, it often takes multiple wheels to positively control a single box. In shingle mode the entrance angle tends to be flatter and easier controlled.

Accumulator

The "air cushion" is provided by blowing air into the accumulating stack from the entrance side; the sole purpose of the air cushion is to prevent the leading edge of the sheet from catching in accumulated product. Do restrict the airflow to a working minimum to allow fastest possible settling of the delivered blank.

Spankers work best near the entrance to the accumulator; farther downstream they tend to catch product prematurely. Set spankers to maximum extension, they should not bend the mounting hardware when working the stack. In three across mode flexible dividers and two side spankers may aid the squaring of the center stack (easily self-made from PVC).

General

Do set the stacker from the lead on back; any change in the layboy section will change the travel path of the box on the incline conveyor and can cause jam ups at the accumulator.

Running in shingle mode will generally ease accumulation and reduce box damage in the accumulator.

Chris Heusch

 

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