Jeff Peterson, editor-in-chief, PostPress
In the purchasing of folding/gluing equipment, especially with more complex folding carton gluers, the training, set-up and installation are very important portions of the purchase decision. Everything from pre-planning, location of the folder-gluer and knowing where air and electrical connections will be made to allowing proper time for operator training will make for a smoother transition.
“New folder-gluers have many advancements that make them more versatile,” stated Jeff Wilcox, PPCTS’ product manager for DGM folder-gluers and Impack case packer design, Waukesha, Wisconsin. “Along with this added versatility comes added complexity, and it takes time to learn the new ways of doing things.”
Importance of training
The amount of training needed on a folder-gluer depends on the experience of the operator(s) and the experience level on the specific machine that is purchased. If the customer is purchasing an additional folder-gluer from the same manufacturer/supplier, training will be much easier and shorter. In any case, experts agree combined installation and operator training should take at least one to two weeks.
“It is important that the operator has a full understanding of the machine,” said Kevin Koplin, managing director at American International Machinery, Oak Creek, Wisconsin. “Trainer-assisted set-ups with a wide range of work/blanks that will be running on the machine is very important.” Koplin further explained that everything should be gone over in detail, from the jogging of the blanks through the machine to the pinch points, belt tension, transfer points, folding options and all other parts needed to complete the task.
Other important training points to include are how to change and adjust the amount of pressure being applied over the lower carriers by the upper carriers, as well as how to assemble tooling and where it is attached on the machine.
“The person training the operator should explain all of the tooling options available and when it may be necessary to use different tooling or alternative methods of setting up the machine,” continued Wilcox. Operators must be trained on different stocks and coatings, compressed air adjustments and, most importantly, how to set up the machine for all the different carton styles that will be running on the folder-gluer.
Besides training for running different types of cartons and jobs on the folder-gluer, it also is very important to go over maintenance procedures for the machine. Such things as how to clean and adjust internal components on the glue pot, how to change and adjust carrier belt tension and tracking, and how to change bearings on the machine are key maintenance items to review.
“An overall maintenance program should be put in place to keep the machine moving and performing at its optimal level,” stated Koplin. It is important to have the ability to complete much of the maintenance of the folder-gluer in-house, saving costs and downtime.
In today’s production environment, there are many different types of auxiliary equipment available for folder-gluers, including sophisticated glue systems, quality-control barcode and camera systems, and automated and semi-automated case packing and feeding systems at the front and back of the folder-gluer line.
The selection of a quality extrusion glue system is the first step in ensuring that consistent cartons are produced. “The implementation of quality control on the folder-gluer has become very common and usually starts with a system that includes glue scanning and code reading,” stated Chris Raney, president of Baumer hhs, with US headquarters in Dayton, Ohio. “Scanning the glue lines that are laid down by the extrusion guns, or glue wheel, ensures that enough glue is applied every time for a quality bond that meets specification.”
Including code reading with the glue system is the best way to ensure there is no mixing of cartons of identical profile but a different SKU. Whether cartons from the diecutter are separated manually or automatically, scanning the barcode in the gluer will ensure there is no mixing of the finished product. It also is possible to scan the UPC code both for product type and to check readability for future use in the store or elsewhere.
The controller of the extrusion glue system also can be used to drive other devices, such as a timed air blast to fold a specific panel or, for example, to drive a tape head. As customers seek to combine many processes into one to complete the production process, it is possible to lay down either one- or two-sided tape onto a carton to provide a sealing feature. When using a single silicon tape, it will typically be combined with a coating head, driven by the same controller, laying down a wider line of fugitive glue.
It also is possible to tip on different security devices, such as sensomatic or RFID tags for high-value items. To control the application of these, operators can use camera technology to control the position and presence of these devices. “Camera technology can be applied to control quality in a wide variety of ways,” stated Raney. “Cameras can be used to control the position and presence of other items, such as labels, cards, etc., as well as to detect the presence of printing, alignment, etc.”
Any type of quality-control function should be interfaced with some type of ejection system to ensure that the defective carton does not reach the final customer. There are different systems available on the market, from those integrated into the machine itself to add-on devices that can remove a specific carton from the line. The specific type of applications that the folder-gluer will be running will help determine if these types of features are necessary with the initial installation of the folder-gluer.
Today, carton folder-gluers can run well over 100,000 cartons per hour. Although this looks from the outside to be a huge rate of production, if the operation does not have the automatic ability to feed and pack the cartons at high speeds, it may not be feasible to reach this type of output. Thought must be given to the addition of automatic or semiautomatic feeding and case packing systems if the folder-gluer is going to run at these high speeds.
Wilcox pointed out that the customer should be aware that not all case packing systems are the same. “Some carton packers cannot pack certain types of carton styles because the carton batches must be alternated during case packing. Automatic lock-bottom cartons are one style where the carton batches must be alternated because the folded and glued carton will have a thicker bottom end than the top, due to the additional folds on the bottom of the carton,” he said.
Koplin also pointed out that those looking at folder-gluer options should consider a carton aligner to ensure all blanks are straight through the folding/gluing process. Also, consider any type of job-specific attachments (such as a Z-fold attachment) that will help reduce set-up and makeready time on the folder-gluer.
The experts agree that the specifics on installation and training should be included in writing before the final purchase of the folder-gluer is made. Prior to delivery, the purchaser should be sure to confirm if the shipping costs are – or are not – included in the price of the machine. Also, it is recommended to confirm who is responsible for any rigging costs to move the various pieces of the machine off the delivery truck and to the installation area on the plant floor. Finally, it is recommended to ask questions about what needs to be prepared for installation on the plant floor, such as air and the proper electricity set-up.
The bottom line: Be very thorough when purchasing any type of finishing or bindery equipment. Finding the right machine is step one, but step two is making sure everything is in place to receive a quality installation and the proper training on the machine.
American International Machinery (Signature Folder Gluers), www.signaturefoldergluers.com
Baumer hhs, www.baumerhhs.com
PPCTS Technologies & Solutions, www.ppcts.com