Accuracy, Reliability and Speed Gained by Retrofitting Sheeters at Roberds

Enhancing proven sheeting equipment with new technology can be a cost effective approach to maintaining a competitive edge in the market place. Roberds Converting, a trade converter based in Loveland OH, is an example of a company that realizes maximum advantage by investing in new converting equipment and upgrading existing machinery with retrofit packages.

The dual motor retrofit replaces a sheeter’s existing single motor, mechanical transmission and gears that contribute to length variation waste. Using two motors combined with high torque drive belts and pulleys to the draw drum and knife revolver insure the sheeter maintains +/-0.015″ (+/-0.381 mm) length tolerance. With fewer mechanical parts, the maintenance levels for the sheeter are reduced dramatically.

Roberds Converting traces its roots to Marion IN. Founded in 1907, the company provided pasted chipboard grades to the local furniture and ornamental steel industries. The Achberger family assumed control of Roberds in 1977 and within three years moved operations to a 16,000 square foot facility in the Cincinnati area. Following that relocation, Roberds Converting branched out from laminating into converting, supplying local printers and folding carton operations with sheeted stock. The company flourished over the next 10 years, twice moving to ever larger facilities and adding a new Maxson sheeter to its existing two Moore & White sheeters.

Roberds Converting continued to solidify its reputation in the region for timely delivery of a quality product. But as the demands of the market place required order fulfillment within a day or two, the next generation of Achbergers – brothers Jim, John and Will – were looking to reduce the maintenance requirements needed to insure the sheeters’ ability to deliver press ready accuracy. The sheeters all used mechanical gearboxes to set and hold cut off length. Recalls Roberds’ President Jim Achberger, “At the time we were looking at the upgrade on the sheeter we had a piece of contract business and there were times when we were expected to get out 200 tons a week. If we needed to be down to perform maintenance to maintain the sheeter’s accuracy, that backed us up.”

The solution was to replace the existing mechanical components that varied the sheet length with a dual motor drive arrangement. Roberds worked with Maxson Automatic Machinery Company to retrofit an electronic sheet length control system to their Maxson sheeter.

In this retrofit package, two AC vector drives are used. Each drive package governs an AC servomotor. The first motor is coupled to the draw drum; the second drives the knife revolver. Each motor is outfitted with a high resolution encoder that generates pulses during each revolution.

A microprocessor controls the motion of the two motors through the drives. The speed of the sheeter is governed by the draw motor’s drive, which responds to the Operator’s adjustment of line speed. The sheet length is governed by the knife revolver’s drive that is programmed, through the microprocessor, to follow the draw drum’s drive at a relative speed that will result in the preset length.

reberds2Digital signals from both motors’ encoders are sent to the microprocessor, which continually compares the inputs during each revolution, correcting the knife motor speed accordingly. Sheet length tolerances within +0.015″ (+0.38 mm) are consistently maintained, regardless of speed change or length.

An added benefit is reduced set up time and the associated waste. Setting the sheet length is via keypad entry at a console requiring seconds to change the cut off. After the first cut, sheets maintain specified accuracy throughout the production run.

Further, with the electrical motors and solid state technology, there are no mechanical components to maintain to insure accuracy. Thus, consistent sheet length is sustained without maintenance of the drive as a factor in accuracy.

Finally, with the increased horsepower capacity of two motors, the cutter gear train can be reconfigured to increase the maximum line speed. Although this requires that the rotating components be dynamically balanced for the higher speeds.

“When we retrofitted the Maxson Sheeter, we were looking for less downtime associated with maintenance, consistency in accuracy and a bump up in the line speed. A year after we put that retrofit on, we were so happy with the first one that we took one of the older Moore & White sheeters and did the same things to it”, reveals Jim.

Will Achberger, plant manger, continues, “On the Moore & White, the retrofit gave us the best of both worlds – increased line speed and better accuracy. They came together, hand in hand.” With regards to machinery upkeep, Will reports, “Our maintenance down time has gone down tremendously. Since the dual motor drive retrofits have been installed, once we lost a harmonic card in one of the drives which Maxson was able to help us diagnose – which was fantastic.”

Roberds Converting continues to thrive. Since 1995, it has invested in two high speed dual knife rotary sheeters and expanded their facility to 73,000 square feet. Between four sheeters and three guillotine trimmers, Roberds converts 25,000 tons of annually. It maintains over a million dollars of inventory ranging from 0.007″ to 0.024″ thick bleached, unbleached and recycled board grades.

Although the company concentrates on its niche of producing custom sizes for the printing and packaging industries within a 300 mile radius of their location, it also maintains standard sized sheets for immediate delivery.

With its continual investment in equipment, Roberds has also grown its business into the “contract converting” business, serving as a sheeting outlet for mills. “To be considered a resource for the mills”, says Jim, “we must maintain the highest standards of cut quality and accuracy.”

Since the investment in the dual motor drive retrofits, Roberds Converting no longer back trims any stock taken from either of the older sheeters. With little maintenance associated down time, production output is predictable. And Customer claims have been virtually eliminated.

Combining its more recent acquisitions in dual knife rotary technology and upgrading their existing sheeters with state of the art electronics, Roberds Converting is a model of how to increase business through savvy equipment investments.

Trade Converter Invests in Quality and Service

On January 1, 1991, Progressive Converting opened its doors as a full service trade converter. Located in Neenah, WI, this start-up operation was launched by the Reinhardt and Schreiber families, who between them have more than 20 years experience in the printing industry.

Pro-Con’s customer base includes printers, converters and paper merchants. The company’s central merchants. The company’s central location places it in easy reach of markets in the greater Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis areas. In addition, the company is currently doing contract sheeting for several area mills.

progressive_AMark Reinhardt, one of Pro-Con’s partners, believes that this printing background has helped him to be more aware of what his customers need in a finished product. He sums it up in this way, “A printer needs a square sheet, a reasonably accurate cutoff, and, above all, a clean cut.” These requirements were kept in mind during investigation of sheeting equipment.

Early on in this process, the company weighed the pros and cons of new versus used equipment. Reinhardt recalls, “In doing research on sheeting, I found many trade converters had old equipment, which required secondary trimming. We saw an advantage in not having to guillotine trim. Only a new sheeter could give us press-ready sheets.”

Within 4 weeks of start-up, Pro-Con acquired the MSE Sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery Company (Westerly, RI). The MSE offered Pro-Con the ability to run trials for potential customers, while their larger sheeter was being constructed.

At Progressive, the MSE handles board calipers up to .020 inches, and paper grades ranging from 20 lb. to 70lb. The MSE sheeter operates at speeds of up to 300 fpm. On the MSE, Progressive can sheet 4 tons of 70 lb. paper during an 8 hour shift, or a ton of 0.014 inch board per hour.

The MSE Sheeter’s compact size makes set-up fast and easy. The sheeter is 53″ wide and offers a sheet length range from 12-50 inches. Only a single operator is needed to operate the sheeter.

In terms of sheet length accuracy, the MSE sheets to a finished size on cutoffs under 36 inches. The sheeted stock can be packaged for shipment directly off the sheeter. Reinhardt adds, “With the MSE, we now have experience sheeting many different materials. It’s helped us in starting to build a customer base.”

The MSE Sheeter’s compact design makes set up fast and easy. Only a single operator is needed to operate the sheeter.

To speed set-up during set-up during roll changes, Pro-Con selected a Citation shaftless self loading back stand. The shaftless design eliminates the need for an overhead hoist when loading rolls. As the operator moves the roll change is complete in under 3 minutes, versus 20 minutes with a shaft type design.

Reinhardt comments, “Eventually, I envision us a 3-shift operation, and I just couldn’t see the sheeter down for 10 minutes every hour with a roll change.”

Along with the roll stand, Progressive also chose an edge guidance system. The edge guidance system directs the web into the sheeter evenly, and assures a square sheet when slitting. “With this option, we have the ability to take a ¼” trim on either side, if a customer requests it.”

In April 1991, Progressive took delivery of a Maxson MSL Sheeter. The new sheeter gives the company greater production capabilities and added capacity as Pro-Con’s customer base expands.

The MSL operates at speeds of up to 850 fpm, and can sheet board stock up to .028 inches thick. The MSL’s close tolerance drive provides a sheet length accuracy of +/- 0.023 inches.

Because a clean cut is essential when sheeting heavier board calipers, Pro-Con selected the PEN MAM dust collector as an equipment option. Reinhardt stresses, “My years of experience in the printing industry have shown me how important it is to have a clean sheet.”

While the first few months of Pro-Con’s operation have been spent running trial runs and establishing customer relationships, the company is now poised to enter a new phase. With a high speed precision sheeter and a growing customer base, Pro-Con’s success seems certain.

Reprinted from The Sheeting Monitor, December 1991

Sheeter Upgrade Sharpens Converter’s Competitive Edge

Seal Products, based in Naugatuck CT, has been a quality supplier of laminated film and paper products since 1936.

Serving the sign and display industry, as well as framing shops and photo labs, the company’s product line is used with mounting and laminating presses, and in photographic framing.

Equipped with two shaft type roll stands, the Maxson MSE Sheeter handles a variety of Seal Products’ material from films as light as 2 mils thick to 0.012 inches thick.

During the past fifty years, Seal Products has enjoyed modest growth and has earned a reputation for both service and quality. In recent years, however, demand for the company’s products has risen sharply. As a result, the company’s size has doubled during the past five years.

In 1990, Seal Products was acquired by Hunt Manufacturing, of Philadelphia PA. As a subsidiary of Hunt, the company enlarged its distribution network outside of the United States, to include facilities in the United Kingdom and Germany. The expansion allowed Seal Products to better serve a growing worldwide customer base.

The company employs 120 workers at its Naugatuck CT manufacturing facility. Converting processes at the plant include sheeting, slitting and rewinding, as well as pouch making. The company converts a wide range of materials from adhesives, films, coated papers, and pressure sensitive stock.

While sheeting had been in practice since the company’s inception, it was one area that needed updating as demand for laminate sheets increased. According to Armand Luzi, operations manager, ” Despite having two sheeters, we reached a point where we had to have some material sheeted by an outside source. While we were growing as a company, there was no sheeting capacity to take on the additional work.”

As an option, the MSE Sheeter can be equipped with a slow down feature to allow for board insertion at counts of 25, 50, or 500 sheets.

He continues, ” New equipment offered greater speeds and the flexibility to do more. Faster changeovers and reducing set-up time were also an issue.”

After investigating several sheeter designs, Seal Products selected the MSE Sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery Company (Westerly RI). ” The MSE Sheeter was not very expensive, plus it was versatile and dependable. Jogging quality and delivery of the sheets into the stacker were in line with our requirements.”

The MSE Sheeter’s compact design requires only a single operator. At Seal Products, the unit handles materials with a variety of basis weights, from films as light as 2 mil up to 0.012 inches thick. The new sheeter runs consistently at 200 fpm, although on wider format sheets, speeds of up to 400 fpm have been realized.

Luzi remarks, ” On our older equipment, we only operated at about 80 fpm. The new sheeter has increased our capacity by almost 100 percent. The result is our stock is replenished faster and we are able to react more quickly. As a consequence, we’ve been able to improve our service levels.”

For Seal Product’s application, the MSE Sheeter was customized with a slow down feature to allow for board inserting at counts of 25, 100 or 500 sheets. He explains, ” In the past, our operators had to hand count the sheets and insert a board into the pile off-line. It was time consuming and inefficient.

The ability to slow down the sheeter at a specific count to insert a board means there is less handling. Now the task can be accomplished three times faster.”

In Luzi’s opinion the greatest single advantage of the new sheeter has been the capacity it has afforded. He remarks, ” We now have the flexibility to handle all our sheeting demands, without increasing our labor cost.”

The addition of a new sheeter has complemented Seal Product’s philosophy of service and quality, by making it easier to supply product to their customers. Plans for future growth include the introduction of a desktop laminating system for consumers, which will utilize the company’s film products. If the success of last five years are any indication, Seal Products appears to be headed on the right track.

Reprinted from The Sheeting Monitor, June 1995

Trade Converter Trims lead Times On Short Runs

Lakeland Paper Company, located in Sturgis, MI is one trade converter with a formula for success. Much of this success lies in the company’s commitment to service and quality. As Charles Schmidt, Lakeland Paper’s sales manager, explains, “During the paper shortage of the early 1970’s, many small folding carton companies needed a source for sheeted stock. Lakeland Paper was founded in 1972 to serve this market.”

lakeland1As a custom converter of paperboard products, Lakeland Paper supplies sheeted stock to paper merchants and folding carton companies. Lakeland’s customer base is concentrated within a 10 state area. The company’s niche lies in providing customer with quick service, even when orders are small or odd-sized. Recently, Lakeland has seen sales growth in smaller jobs ranging from ½ ton to 5 tons. Orders of this size now comprise about 35 percent of the company’s total sales.

This rise in demand for smaller orders prompted Lakeland to take a second look at their sheeting operation. With 5 sheeters measuring 60″ or wider, the company was well positioned to handle wide rolls and long runs. However, Lakeland did not have a unit that could efficiently handle narrower rolls and smaller orders.

As Schmidt recalls, “Our existing equipment was not geared for short runs or lightweight calipers, and short cutoffs were a problem. When we looked at our growth pattern, we realized we had to do something.” During their search for a sheeter, Lakeland identified several criteria for selection. Flexibility and ease of operation were important considerations, as were speed and accuracy.

Remarks Schmidt, “We needed a sheeter that was compact, but could still give us the production we needed.” After investigating the various sheeting equipment available. Lakeland selected the

MSS-HS Sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery Company (Westerly, RI).

At Lakeland, the MSS-HS Sheeter handles board calipers ranging from .010 inches to .016 inches. Lakeland’s product mix includes SBS, recycled and polycoated board. The new sheeter can handle rolls up to 52″ wide and operates at speeds of up to 600 fpm. These high speeds are maintained in part due to Maxson’s patented Airfoil Overlap System. The device prevents jam-ups at the point of overlap, and is especially useful when sheeting lightweight calipers. Adds Schmidt, “The Airfoil keeps control of the sheets and lets you run at higher speeds.”

Requiring just a single operator, the MSS-HS Sheeter has helped Lakeland to better serve their customers.

Cites Schmidt, “The MSS-HS gives us the flexibility to take on certain orders. These orders would not have gone through our converting process as easily anywhere else.” In addition, turnaround times on smaller orders have also been improved. On average, orders are processed within 3 to 5 days. Says Schmidt, “Based on our needs, the MSS-HS Sheeter was a good fit.”

Along with the purchased of the Maxson sheeter, the company has recently completed a 128,000 sq. ft. addition to allow for more warehouse and operating space. Both these moves should place Lakeland Paper in a solid position for future growth.

Reprinted from The Sheeting Monitor, June 1991

This Converter Sharpens Operation with Upgrade

In a move to market its product more competitively, a manufacturer of pressure-sensitive materials recently upgraded its sheeting operation with a precision sheeter and doubled the capacity of its sheeting operation while reducing labor requirements by more than 50%.

General Formulations, Sparta, MI, has produced pressure-sensitive materials since 1950. The company caters to both short-and long run orders.

With five coating units, six slitter/re-winders and a sheeter, General Formulations has the equipment to do just about anything in the pressure-sensitive area.


general2“There isn’t anything we won’t try to make,” Ernie Barty, company production manager, said. “being a small company, we are known for our specialty work. Our customers say we are more time-sensitive and quality-conscious because of this emphasis.”

The majority of General Formulation’s customers are screen, offset and flexo printers. They are located through-out the US as well as England, Canada, Mexico, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.

The company also manufactures polished vinyl for advertising signs and static-cling vinyl sheet. Products are available in sheets or rolls.

To meet customers’ demands for sheeted vinyl and polyester stock, General Formulations has sheeted internally since the company was established. While its existing equipment met demand for many years, it was limited by 1950s technology. The need to stay competitive prompted General Formulations to look at a more-efficient method of operation.

“In the pressure-sensitive industry, price is very important,” Barty said.

general3“This forced us to explore better ways of doing things. For example, our sheeters were designed to handle only narrow webs. In contrast, a new sheeter would give us the ability to handle a wider web and slit it down the middle.”

Reducing waste was one way General Formulations could lower costs. “While sheeting pressure sensitive, 75% of our cost is the material,” Barty said. “On our older sheeters, we could set the sheet length only to the nearest ¼ in., which meant we had to oversize by a ½ in. and then guillotine trim. If we could reduce this scrap, we could operate more cost-effectively.”

During its investigation of sheeting equipment, the company reviewed several designs, running trials on equipment to gauge sheet-length accuracy and run ability. It selected the MSS-HS sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery Co., Westerly, RI.

general4“This machine’s sheet length held good control,” Barty said. “We liked the creativeness of the manufacturer’s engineering department, their willingness to try to accommodate our needs and that it was American made.”

The sheeter has a twin-motor drive system that utilizes state-of-the-art technology. The design’s advantage is it provides press-ready sheets regardless of cutoff.

For General Formulations, this means a reduction in waste. “Sheet length is infinitely variable, so we can select whatever size we need,” Barty said. “Maxson’s dual-drive system gives us the accuracy we require. Nobody holds better sheet-length tolerances.”

The twin-motor drive system is designed for ease of operation. Size changes are keyed in at the operator console. The drive package includes an automatic-squaring device that ends the need to manually adjust for squareness.

general5“The drive system is very simple to operate,” Barty said. “Our operator can set sheet length in less than a minute.”

In selecting a sheeter, General Formulations chose options that would boost overall efficiency. A shaftless self-loading roll stand eliminates the need for an overhead hoist when loading rolls. As the operate moves the roll into position, the roll stand cradles the roll and lifts it into position.

A roll change is completed in under 2 min. The shaftless roll stand has an automatic tension-control feature to ensure sheet-length accuracy.

The MSS-HS sheeter handles pressure-sensitive paper, polyester and vinyl in thicknesses from 1 mil to 10 mil. It offers a sheet-length range from 13 in. to 60 in. and handles rolls up to 59 in. wide. “With our older sheeters, the widest we could handle was 36 in. Over the past few years, there’s been a shift in the printing industry toward wide-web work,” Barty said. “With the Maxson, we can capitalize on this business.”

This view of the Maxson Sheeter at General Formulations shows the neatly jogged sheets. With the new sheeter, General Formulations can now sheet to a finished size and guillotine trimming has been eliminated.

“Another area of improvement has been increased production. “The MSS-HS has totally changed our way of thinking,” Barty said. “We recently sheeted a job in four hours, which would’ve taken three days on an older sheeter. The overall quality is better.

“We’ve doubled our production while reducing our labor requirement from six operators to two. Even so, we have yet to fully utilize the sheeter’s potential because of our small order sizes,” he said. “On average, we have up to 10 size changes daily.”

However, General Formulations’ order mix is undergoing a change to include more lucrative long runs. Orders like these offer opportunities for growth. “The Maxson gives us the flexibility to work both ways,” Barty said.

“While continuing our emphasis on short-run specialty work, we can sheet larger volumes competitively.”

Designed to handle long and short runs orders, the new MSS-HS Sheeter has resulted in General Formulations doubling its sheeting capacity. As a result, the converter can now sheet larger volumes more competitively.

A commitment to quality and service is one reason behind General Formulations’ success over the past 40 years. The Maxson sheeter complements this philosophy. “We’re operating more efficiently, and the overall quality is better,” Barty said. “As additional business opportunities develop, we have the equipment, people and facilities to continue our tradition.”

Reprinted from Paper Film Foil Converter, April 1993

This Converter Gets Quality, Savings in Sheeter Upgrade

A Wisconsin converter of laminate systems has found investing in a new sheeter has brought major production benefits, including labor savings and improved quality.

Since 1958 Allied Signal Laminate Systems, La Crosse, WI, has been a quality producer of prepreg and laminates for circuit-board industry. The firm’s product line is used for high-end military and computer application by customers such as IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Unisys, Hughes Aircraft, Cray and Honeywell.

allied1Allied Signal has an extensive manufacturing and distribution network with facilities in: Chandler, AZ; Postville, IA; Hoosick Falls, NY; Pendleton, SC; La Crosse, WI; Thailand; Taiwan; and Germany. In 1991, the firm acquired Westinghouse Corp., making it one of the world’s largest circuit-board laminators.

At Allied Signal’s La Crosse plant, the company employs 400 workers. The manufacturing process begins with a fiberglass-cloth roll. The web is drawn through a treater line that coats the cloth with a resin and dries it.

The treated stock is rewound and sheeted off-line on a drop-shear cutter. The sheeted material goes through several other processes before it’s packaged and sold as a circuit-board laminate or prepreg panels.

As the computer industry has grown and evolved, so has demand for Allied Signal’s product line. The La Crosse facility manufactures 18 different styles of glass-treated material with an emphasis on short runs and small sizes.

With this business on the increase, the company found its sheeting operation needed more capacity. Until recently, the company sheeted its material on three drop-shear cutters, which were slow and labor intensive. Cleanliness was also a concern.

“For our operation, cleanliness is a major consideration,” Dave Plantz, manufacturing engineer at Allied Signal, said. “The exacting nature of our product means we can’t have any grease, dirt, or lint on the stock. As we were moving toward a clean-room environment, it became essential to have a sheeter that could cut our material cleanly and faster.”

Allied Signal’s sheeter investigation included talking to other plants within the company. “We heard that our sister plant in Hoosick Falls had bought a Maxson sheeter,” Plantz said. “We visited their facility and saw what it could do.”

After careful evaluation, Allied Signal selected the MSS sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery Co., Westerly, RI.

allied2The sheeter handles five or six different resin systems ranging in thickness from 2 mil up to 8 mil. “We sheet all but our very lightweight stock on the Maxson,” Plantz said. The new sheeter operates consistently between 75 fpm and 100 fpm representing a fourfold increase in production. “We’re doing the same things that we did previously on our other sheeters, but the difference is we can do them much faster now with less setup time. As a result of the Maxson unit’s sheeting capacity, Allied Signal has idled its three existing sheeters.

To address Allied Signal’s concern about cleanliness, the MSS sheeter has a dust-collecting system within the cutting section to combat any slitter-dust contaminants. Synthetic tapes were substituted for the standard cotton tapes in the sheeter’s delivery system to allow for easy of cleaning. As a final insurance against dust, a PEN MAM dust collector was installed in the sheeter’s delivery section.

The MSS sheeter’s close-tolerance drive provides an accurate cutoff with no guillotine trimming required. The sheeted stock collects in a neatly jogged pile at the stacker. “With the Maxson, our pile quality has improved measurably,” Plantz said.

Sheeting-department productivity has also improved. “One operator on the Maxson can now do the work that normally took three operators to do on our other sheeters,” Plantz said.

With the flexibility to turn orders around more quickly. Plantz estimates Allied Signal now saves half a week in its production schedule without comprising the quality of its product.

As the circuit-board industry and its capabilities continue to evolve, Allied Signal is poised to react to the changes by providing a quality product more cost effectively.

Reprinted from Paper Film Foil Converter, October 1994

Sheeting Efficiency Gets Boost With New Equipment

Quality and service have been instrumental in an Illinois converter’s growth from a small plastics distributor and converter to an extrusion specialist with state-of-the-art converting facilities.

Lustro, Evanston, IL, supplies the offset-printing industry with sheeted film products and has a worldwide customer base. End-use applications included transparencies, overhead projections, book inserts, greeting-card over-lays, and point-of-sale materials.

Sheeting is an important part of the operation. For the past 30 years, Lustro’s sheeting operation has been performed in-house on three sheeters. From roll form. The film is sheeted with a tissue interleave and then cut to the customer’s specifications on one of three guillotine trimmers.

lustro1This method had been successful for Lustro until recently when one of the sheeters had to be replaced. This development prompted the firm to examine the efficiency of its sheeting operation.

“Sheeting was the area needing the greatest improvement,” Phil Scully, Lustro’s sales and service manager, said. “Our sheeting equipment was quite old, operated at slow speeds and wasn’t very accurate. There’s simply too much competition around not to keep up with the times, so we decided to investigate the new technologies available in sheeting equipment.”

The company identified several criteria for selection, including speed, accuracy and a reasonable price. After considering six sheeter designs, the equipment that met all of the MSS sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery, Westerly, RI.

“The Maxson’s production capabilities excited us, but, in addition, we were impressed with the unit’s many innovative design features. These included the use of air at the stacker to help float out the sheets as well as a feed-down table designed to automatically lower the skid as pile height increases.”

The new sheeter features a variable-speed transmission that provides a sheet-length and squareness accuracy of + .03 in. A slitter rig and sheet length monitor were also selected as equipment options to further improve accuracy and efficiency.

The sheet-length monitor eliminates setup waste by allowing the operator to preset the sheet length before threading the web into the cutter. When the sheeter is in operation, the monitor digitally displays the sheet length to the nearest hundredth of an inch. As a result of these options, Lustro has realized a 25% reduction in waste.

The sheeter is also equipped with a reject gate, which was originally designed to divert unacceptable sheets during setup. However, the firm found another application for this reject gate once the sheeter was in operation. “We use the reject gate far more often to divert good sheets for 1 or 2 sec. while the operate places a clipboard insert at the pile,” Scully said.

Because film is flimsy and difficult to stack, the design of the new sheeter includes a vibratory jogging system at the stacker. The jogging system is reported to have significantly improved the overall quality of the stack. “On our older equipment, our operator would have to flight with the stack before trimming,” Scully said. “The skids off the Maxson are neatly jogged and easier to work with, and we estimate a 10% time savings in not having to restack the material at the trimmer.”

The Maxson sheeter at Lustro runs within a speed range of 225 fpm to 240 fpm, which is twice as fast as the unit it replaced. This speed gain has doubled the company’s production rates. On their old sheeter, a run of 325,000 sheets required more than 200 hr. of machine time. A similar run on the new sheeter is completed within 100 hr.

In terms of throughput, “we’re still faced with a two-week backlog, but the big difference now is what you can do in those two weeks,” Scully said. “Because of the sheeter’s production capabilities, we use the new sheeter to handle long runs. Our operator can set it, and, for the most part, forget it.” Lustro’s remaining sheeters are used primarily for short runs.

Labor costs have also been reduced since the new unit was purchased. Its compact design offers ease of operation. Lustro operates it with one skilled operator is required to operate each of the old sheeters.

The new equipment has also been a motivating factor for Lustro’s employees. “Our operators treat it like a whole new entity, and it has instilled a certain amount of pride among the employees.”

In addition to improving overall productivity, the Maxson sheeter at Lustro has opened up opportunities for growth. “We now have more flexibility to take on certain jobs that we couldn’t do in the, “Scully said. ” For example, we now have the capability to sheet flexible vinyl, and we can do it faster and with less labor requirements.”

Reprinted from Paper Film Foil Converter, December 1989

Sheeter Purchase Allows Converter to Cut Lead Time

A Midwest converter’s commitment to service and quality through upgrading and improving operations has helped the firm achieve an average 60% annual growth rate during the past eight years.

Universal Duramark, Minneapolis, MN, has supplied the graphic-arts industry with pressure-sensitive-film products since 1962. As demand for these products grew, so did the company’s operations. In 1988, it acquired Duramark Films, Cleveland, OH. In October 1990, Universal Duramark was acquired by Ritrama, Milan, Italy, and is now know as Ritrama Duramark.

duramark1The converter’s success is based on its commitment to service and quality. The desire to improve and upgrade the operations whenever possible has led to its healthy growth rate.

Sheet fed products have led the growth in the graphics-arts-products industry, which placed a strain on Ritrama Duramark’s sheeting operations. While sheeting has always been a part of the firm’s manufacturing processes, its sheeting equipment couldn’t keep up with demand.

“We needed to increase the production of our sheeting operation as well as sheet more efficiently,” Daryl Hanzal, general manager of Ritrama Duramark’s Minneapolis facility, said “On our two older sheeters, we had to restack the sheets after sheeting and setup was time consuming.”

After investigating the sheeting equipment available, the firm selected an MSS sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery, Westerly, RI.

“The Maxson offered us greater speed and ease of operation,” Hanzal said “The stacking was automated and required less operator attention.”

At Ritrama Duramark, the sheeter operates at speeds up to 250 fpm. This represents a significant speed increase over the company’s earlier equipment.

“With the MSS sheeter we can sheet 1.5 times faster than on the older equipment,” he said. “This means that during an eight-hour shift, we can produce 150,000 sheets on the Maxson versus 100,000 sheets previously.”

The ability to produce more sheets during a shift has allowed the company to cut lead times in half. Turnaround times for sheeted stock have gone from six days to three days. The added capacity has also reduced inventory costs because the company doesn’t have to maintain a large inventory of sheets in stock.

In addition to production gains, the company’s labor costs have dropped. One operator is needed to run the new sheeter compared with two operator required to operate the older machine. The machine’s efficiency is a result of its design. Maxson designed the sheeter to minimize the static buildup that makes film difficult to sheet. Air is used at the stacker to help float the sheets out over the pile. The machine’s jogging system stacks the sheets without the need to restack the material after it’s sheeted.

A shaft-type unwind stand with edge guidance was selected because many of the rolls sheeted at the facility are telescoped. The edge-guidance system aligns the web as it feeds into cutter. Without this feature, the sheeter operator must take an edge trim when slitting telescoped rolls.

“If we didn’t have edge guidance, our operator would have to run the sheeter at half speed to have enough time to adjust the brakes manually,” Hanzal said.

The addition of the MSS sheeter has fit well with the company’s plans for future expansion. “In a mature industry like ours, service is very important,” he said. “The sheeter beefs up the service aspect of our business. We have enough capacity to support our growth rate while giving our customers the quality they expect.”

Reprinted from Paper Film Foil Converter, March 1991

Sheeter Helps Converter Meet Orders, Hike Quality

The purchase of high-speed precision sheeter has helped give an Illinois-based board converter greater flexibility while satisfying the growing demand for its product and opening up market opportunities.

Jarvis Cutting Elk Grove Village, IL, was founded in 1981 to serve as the converting arm for its parent company, Andrews Paperboard. Today, the company employs 12. The majority of its customers are located in the Midwest.

As a job-lot converter, Jarvis’s product line includes folding-carton and bending-chipboard stock for use as pad interleaves and inserts for boxes.

Until two years ago, the company purchased all of its inventory in sheet form. The stock would then be trimmed to a specific order size. This approach worked well in the beginning but in time, the availability of sheets became scarce. The problem of a short supply was compounded by the fact that the converter’s business was growing.

“In this business, the more flexible you are, the better your market position, “Craig Calas, Jarvis president, said. “Rolls were easier to get than sheets so we decided to set up an in-house sheeting operation.”

The company selected a used sheeter to start the operation. Although the unit was slow and inaccurate, it gave the firm greater flexibility. Sheeting proved to a boon to the company’s business.

“At one point, we were so busy that we were forced to give our customers a week’s lead time,” Calas said. “Many of our customers with just-in-time production schedules needed stock faster.”

Within a short time, the company realized that its existing sheeter couldn’t keep up with demand.

“Our business was growing, and we needed to turn orders around more quickly,” he said. “We needed a sheeter that was faster and more accurate than our present equipment.”

With these requirements in mind, the company selected the

MSS-HS sheeter from Maxson Automatic Machinery, Westerly, RI.

At the Illinois converting operation, the machine sheets chipboard calipers from .0009 in. to .03 in. The new sheeter operates at speeds up to 600 fpm. This represents a speed gain of more than 300 fpm over the older unit. Calas estimates the firm has seen production capacity triple with the new unit.

The added capacity means orders can be turned around faster. Lead times have shortened from one week to a couple of days. “Now we can target one-day service for our customers,” he said.

To speed setup during roll changes, the company selected a shaftless, self-loading back stand. The design of the back stand eliminates the need for an overhead hoist when loading rolls. The operator moves the roll into place while the back stand cradles the rolls and lifts it into position. A roll change can be completed in less than 5 min. compared with the 20 min. that are needed with a shaft-type design.

Accuracy also has improved with the new sheeter. The machine has a close-tolerance drive to ensure a sheet-length accuracy of

+/- 0.023 in. On the old sheeter, the converter had to oversize the sheets by 0.5 in. to compensate for any cutoff variation. The excess would then have to be guillotine trimmed.

“Now, we can sheet an order directly off a roll and send it out the door,” Calas said. Sheeting faster and more efficiently places Jarvis in a solid position to explore new markets. Opportunities for growth included first-run orders.

“With the MSS-HS, we can now sheet more consistently,” Calas said. Regarding a recent order the company sheeted for a printer, Calas said the company “didn’t get a single return. Anyone knows that in this business, if it doesn’t look good, you’ve got problems.”

“We know our niche is in the plain-chipboard market, but since buying the Maxson sheeter, we have secured orders we wouldn’t have gotten in the past,” he said. “Reputation-wise, the new sheeter has been a plus. We’ve become know more as a quality operation.”

Reprinted from Paper Film Foil Converter, November 1991

Sheeter Cuts Plant’s Labor and Trimming

With the purchase of a sheeter, one folding carton manufacturer more than doubled the production capability of its sheeting operation and reduced its labor requirements by more than 75%.

Wynalda Litho, Rockford, MI, has manufactured folding cartons for the entertainment, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries for more than 20 years. During that time the company has developed a reputation for producing its product with rapid turnaround time, largely due to its ability to process orders entirely in-house.

litho“Our average lead time on a job is five days,” said Robert Wynalda, president. “Compared to the industry average of four to 12 weeks, that is extremely fast. We wouldn’t be able to service customers this quickly if we had to rely on outside sources for parts of our operation.” The evolution of these in-house abilities and increased customer demand prompted the company to recently expand its existing capabilities by 30%. As part of this expansion program, Wynalda Litho needed to increase the efficiency of its sheeting operation.

“Our old sheeter was much too labor-intensive,” said Wynalda. “We were running it three shifts a day, with three people on each shift. In addition, the sheets coming off the machine weren’t square and needed to be trimmed.”

Minus seven people

The company investigated a number of sheeters, finally deciding on a sheeter from Westerly, RI-based Maxson Automatic Machinery Co. that enabled it to reduce its sheeting operation to one shift a day with two operators. Now sheeted material does not need to be trimmed, and the remaining seven people are utilized on other projects.

The machine came equipped with a sheet-length monitor, an air-foil overlap system and a decurler, as well as a continuous delivery system that made possible a 25% increase in production. Operators can off-load the completed stacks of sheeted material without shutting the machine down. An extended grid system temporarily holds the sheeted material while the stacker is being off-loaded.

One expense saved for Wynalda Litho is the clean cut made by the knife system, reducing dust during operation.

“The sheeter has a two-knife system, with one stationary and one rotating knife. By properly adjusting the knives we are able to obtain a clean cut to minimize dust,” explained Wynalda.

Since sheeting of the SBS board is one of the first steps in producing the company’s printed folding cartons, its relies on its sheeting operation to ensure delivery of quality products to its customers.

“We feel the quality of the sheeted product determines the quality of the end product, so we make sure the sheeter is always running at top efficiency,” said Wynalda.

To further ensure consistent high quality of its end product, the company is in the process of instituting a statistical process control program. Since the sheeter is equipped with a sheet-length monitor, it can easily be integrated into the SPC program.

Wynalda Litho is now able to monitor the number of sheets obtained per roll, the linear footage of each roll and the sheet-length variation for each job. Including this information as part of the SPC program increases the accuracy of the program.

With its expansion program completed, Wynalda Litho is looking toward a future of continued growth. “The next phase of our growth is the complete implementation of the SPC program. The Maxson sheeter with the sheet-length monitor fits very well to this plan,” Wynalda concluded.

Reprinted from Boxboard Containers, September 1989

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