Flexible Packaging recently caught up with Randy Wolf, director of business development for Kampf Machinery Corp. USA, for a discussion on all things slitting/rewinding.

Q: What’s new in slitting/rewinding? Have you released anything new recently or have plans to release anything new in the near future?

A: We have recently announced the development of Kampf Converting 4.0 with a smart data collection and process control system. With this system, the realization for the future for a smart data converting factory can be achieved in which cyber-physical systems monitor and control the entire converting process. Kampf Converting 4.0 will enable operators and management to make real-time decisions through real-time data collection for the entire plant.

Q: What are some of the biggest inefficiencies with slitters/rewinders, and what’s being done to reduce these?

A: Downtime, downtime and downtime. This is addressed through recent innovations that have enhanced the performance of slitter/rewinders substantially. They include, but are not limited to, the use of PLC’s for product data files, automatic knife positioning systems and material handling units. By coupling these improvements with continuous operator training, it will reduce the machine’s downtimes, including both rewind cycle time and machine job changeover cycle times, and increase efficiencies.

Q: There seems to be a consensus that today’s slitting/rewinding equipment is safer and more durable than ever. In what other ways has this equipment evolved over the years?

A: Most duplex slitter/rewinders of today incorporate the use of fixed differential cantilevered rewind air shafts and finished rewind roll pushers as well as shaft-less floor pickup driven unwind stands. These features result in no lifting of shafts and rolls or the need for overhead hoists. These developments increase efficiencies and improve ergonomics and safety for the operators. The loading of master rolls and unloading of the finished rewind rolls and the handling of shafts are areas that have caused headaches and potential injuries for converters for years. The Kampf machines of today have solved these issues.

Q: More slitter/rewinders, including Kampf’s Conslit series, are including extended options with the equipment. Can you explain what some of these options are?

A: Material handling options are the focus in today’s slitting and rewinding departments. You could have the fastest slitter/rewinder available in today’s market, but if you can’t get the finished rewind rolls off and reload the new cores onto the rewind shafts, then the money you spent for that speed is totally lost. The material handling options should include rewind roll pushers to automatically push the finished rewind rolls off the cantilevered rewind shafts onto a rewind unloading unit. This can automatically marry up to the rewind shafts and then automatically pivot away and turret over for the proper unloading height. These rewind unloading units can even be designed to marry up to a conveyor or a robotic roll handler that can also incorporate palletizing and wrapping.

Q: What’s something that a lot of people likely don’t know about slitting/rewinding, but should know about it?

A: Since I mentioned cycle times above, a converter must understand that there are two very distinct cycle times associated with a slitter/rewinder. First is the rewind cycle time, which is related to the time required to remove the finished rewind rolls and re-core the rewind shafts. Second, and just as critical, is the job changeover cycle time. This is associated with the changing of slit width patterns. Many converters fail to account for the time it takes to accomplish this task. Here, the use of automation and technology, and also similar job scheduling, plays an important role in minimizing these job changeover cycle downtimes. The HMI with PDF recipe storage, along with other options, such as automatic knife positioning systems, will minimize the time required to change over a slitter/rewinder. The settings from when you last ran that job successfully are in the PDF, and in conjunction with an automatic knife positioning unit can reduce job changeover downtimes by up to 75 percent.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about slitting/rewinding?

A: There still remains an attitude today in the converting industry that whatever errors occur in the printing, coating and/or laminating departments, these will be automatically corrected in the slitting department. This train of thought is a production and profit killer! The whole converting process must work as a well-oiled and managed team. The printing, coating and laminating, along with the slitting departments, are all dependent upon one another to ensure a successful outcome. Please keep in mind that a slitter/rewinder is generally the last piece of capital equipment that will touch the materials before they get shipped to a customer.