Innovation In Corrugated Packaging
October 11, 2012
(Randy "Dr. Box" )
– There are many new innovations in the corrugated and related industries. I will share a few of these with you in this blog. We will start out with “warp”. Warped board coming off of the Corrugator is a primary cause of poor productivity and quality on the converting machines. For this reason top plants measure liner temperatures and moistures at the wet end and the stacker operators are ever vigilant for warp so they can radio back to the wet end to explain the warp so they can make adjustments.
All the while the Corrugator continues to make warped stock as adjustments are made. What if the Corrugator could fix its own warp before the warped sheets ever hit the stacker? That is the idea behind the new technology that COPAR has developed. They utilize a laser to measure warp as the combined board runs through the Corrugator prior to the stacker. Not only does it indicate the type of warp and the severity it can transmit data to the wet end of the Corrugator. If properly tied in to a modern Corrugator it can signal the wrap arms to adjust automatically to balance the moisture content in the liners and eliminate most warp issues on the fly. The concept is not new but the idea of utilizing a laser to measure performance in real time is a novel and innovative concept.
For those of you on the converting side of the business, one problem that has never been able to be completely eliminated is gluing problems. While they don’t happen often, they never seem to be able to be completely eliminated. Glue detectors have been around for over 20 years but I can speak from experience when I say that most of them back then were unreliable and ineffective. The newer technologies include cameras reading the glue patterns and marking any boxes that do not meet predetermined standards. In addition W.H. Leary has a new non contact head system that is self cleaning. It jets water through the head automatically to keep the jets from getting clogged. HAECO also has a tab stripper that looks like two helicopter rotors that fling stubborn tabs away from the product so they don’t cause gluing problems as well.
Emba’s new technology on their Flexo-Folder-Gluer can allow you to have Zero crush on your converted box. Kadant the company that makes machinery for the converted paper/film market (Black Clawson) is also bringing steam technology from the Paper Mill side of the business to the Corrugated side by offering steam systems that have no traps. Their technologies have not been necessary in the past but with the new high speed Corrugators the need to maintain and replenish heat quickly and consistency is paramount. The Corrugator is the heart of a box plant and the “steam system” and boiler is the heart of the Corrugator. You can’t have speed without enough consistent heat. Donahue steam systems has a nice video that has polycarbonate pipes and a glass boiler so you can see everything that is going on within a steam system since everything is transparent. This allows you to see the water hammers actually happen and see when your steam system is overtaxed and what the effects are.
Robots have often been used to replace a human stacker at a load former and complicated prefeeders used to replace one or two people feeding the machines. For the first time last week I saw a robot from Automatan that is used to feed the machine. This has me thinking of some of the old Sci-Fi movies I used to watch as a kid where robots eventually replace all of the people. While these robots still can’t think or solve problems they have the potential to add productivity and reduce costs if they are properly maintained. Words of warning!
The technologies in robots and in the new modern machines require a higher level of electrical/electronic expertise than the older ones. The new machines are better, faster, stronger, more reliable and produce better quality. Make sure that if you buy new equipment from the top manufacturers that you properly maintain them and have a knowledgeable electrician on staff.
If your servo drive Flexo-Folder-Gluer breaks down, you can’t set it up manually. You are down until you troubleshoot the problem and fix it. Proper maintenance, alignment, lubrication and housekeeping are mandatory to keep a machine in good condition. Failure to do so will cost, money, quality, time and aggravation. If you are implementing new technologies for the first time you may be money ahead to hire an expert to help you. Until next time, “Let’s All Stay Inside The Box!”