Rolls of labelstock are heavy, as are rolls of labels. Manually lifting of these materials is hazardous to the health of the individual and the converter, with potential losses coming from both injured employees as well as damaged product.
Materials handling equipment is an unsung hero of the label manufacturing workflow. This equipment is involved in both the start and finish of a job – loading stock from a delivery truck and into the plant, lifting rolls onto a press, transferring to a finishing machine, and then making sure the finished product safely leaves the facility in tact. This machinery plays a critical role.
The equipment encompasses a wide range of machinery types, from forklifts to roll-lifting devices. Falling into the category is also consumables, products that protect the materials while they are being transported.
What follows are descriptions of products leading materials handling equipment providers offer the labeling industry.
AzTech Converting Systems
AzTech Converting Systems Inc., with headquarters in Tempe, AZ, USA, built its first roll-handling product in 1985, and today is one of the premier manufacturers of roll handling equipment worldwide for the label and narrow web industry. The company manufactures three different series and a total of seven models of roll handling carts. Ranging from a 400 lb. capacity all the way to 1,500 lb. capacity, and featuring many different lift heights, AzTech also custom builds roll handling equipment to meet customer’s specific requests.
One of AzTech’s most popular features of its equipment are quick-change attachments. These attachments make it so one piece of equipment is capable of going from a two point attachment to a roller core boom and then on to a swivel cradle in mere seconds, for example.
Safety is Aztech’s top priority. All of its roll handling equipment has safety features including rear locking casters for safe load transfer, a safety brake system to prevent the load from falling in the event of cable breakage, and a roll stop rod on all roller core boom secures the material on the boom. These features help reduce workplace injuries and material damage, as they are ergonomically designed for smooth and easy operation and maneuverability, while being simple and inexpensive to maintain.
Over its 25-year history, Aztech Converting has expanded its material handling equipment to include: die lifting equipment, roll dollies, and several alternatives to rotate rolls of material from the poker chip style of packing to horizontal core positioning. In addition to its website, AzTech showcases its equipment online at a dedicated Youtube channel.
Rollguard, a division of The Great Northern Corporation, with headquarters in Appleton, WI, USA, offers several products designed to protect roll products during shipping, handling and storage. “We have many products to choose from, so it boils down to the particular application,” explains Rob Swannell, general manager, Rollguard. “As an example, a labelstock producer may use either our fiber full roll cradles, or, if it’s a work in progress or closed-loop application, may choose our Dura-Last cradles.”
Rollguard’s Recycled Fiber/Molded Pulp roll cradles are made with 100% recycled corrugated fiber pulp, offering greater strength than similar roll cradles made from newsprint. They are available in single and multiple roll configurations and can accommodate products with roll diameters ranging from 3-50". Recycled fiber cradles are shipped nested in hinged pairs that can be easily split apart or folded in half for use in roll stacking. Also available are full roll fiber cradles for heavy, large-diameter rolls and narrow fiber cradles for rolls from 4-12" in diameter.
Dura-Last cradles are made from a high-density, durable polyethylene material designed to deliver superior memory capability that allows the cradles to retain their shape longer and to be used over and over again, making them ideal for closed-loop shipping and storage. Stock sizes are available, but the cradles can be custom-fabricated with no upfront tooling costs and no minimum order size. A slightly textured surface resists beading and prevents slippage while the light weight reduces shipping costs.
Thermoformed plastic cradles are designed for multiple turns and have patented locking end-tabs to secure top and bottom cradles during loading and shipping. They also feature an anti-skid dust-free surface that prevents slippage and deters product damage. A special de-nesting hub feature makes it easier to separate cradles for use while product nesting maximizes space for efficient shipping and warehousing – a great option for protecting products in humid, wet environments.
“Economical, safe, and most of all ease of use are without a doubt the main advantages,” Swannell says of Rollguard’s products. “In the past, many producers of label master rolls used suspension packs to ship their rolls, which was expensive and very time consuming. Converters, on the other hand, would pack their narrower slit rolls vertically or what many call ‘eye to the sky.’ Although fairly easy and economical, it often causes returns due to the edges of the rolls becoming damaged. If not vertical, converters will lay their rolls horizontally on a pallet. This also creates damage claims due to a multitude of issues, including but not limited to the rolls moving on the pallet, coming into contact with warped deck boards or protruding nails.”
Rollguard’s fiber cradles also have eco-friendly advantages, as they are made from pre-consumer corrugated clippings. Swanell adds, “This makes them very green and easily recyclable as the end users can just add them to their corrugated and/or paper recycling program.”
Schlumpf USA, based inWindham, ME, was incorporated in 1992 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Schlumpf AG of Switzerland, which itself dates back to 1886. Chris van Haasteren, president and CEO, says that since most stock rolls are shipped stacked poker chip style, an assist device of some type is required to get the rolls off the stack and inverted to the core horizontal position for loading onto the press or converting machine.
“Our equipment serves three main purposes – safety, productivity and quality, van Haasteren says. “Safety – to keep the operators from getting hurt. Federal law requires an assist device for one person to handle a weight greater than 40 lbs. It’s also hard work handling rolls all day long. An assist device prevents operator fatigue and thereby boosts productivity. “
With regard to quality, Schlumpf’s assist device keeps the roll from being damaged, which often occurs when a roll is handled manually. “The assist device also keeps the rolls clean and off the floor, thus minimizing waste,” van Haasteren says, adding that this is especially important for food and pharmaceutical applications.
Simple, low-cost devices are popular with Schlumpf’s label converter customers, and the company has developed several products expressly for them.
The VCRD Roll Dolly offers a product designed to be a convenient, easy and inexpensive way to transport rolls while keeping them clean and off the floor. Schlumpf’s HRH-1000-PRP offers a powerful lift with a roller probe for fast and easy loading and unloading onto label presses, digital presses and other narrow web machinery. And the new ERH-400-PT5 is a lightweight roll handler with both lifting and turning functions, and is designed to be fast and easy to use in maneuvering through crowded pressrooms.
“An investment in material handling equipment is like an insurance policy for your business. Pay the premiums by investing, and you thereby minimize or completely eliminate the risk of a serious operator injury, lost productivity, etc. Some companies ‘self-insure’ by not investing or delaying investments, weighing the risk of an injury against the cost. Not a good choice in this day and age of skyrocketing medical costs,” van Haasteren says. “It just makes good business sense. The costs of just one serious injury are far greater than the initial purchase cost of the equipment.”
Appleton Mfg. Division, Neenah, WI, USA, is a fully integrated engineering, design, sales, service and manufacturing firm producing custom and se.mi-custom materials handling solutions. Appleton Mfg. Division offers label converters the Safe-Slab Core Recycler, which is now available for customization to meet specific needs.
Since designing and launching the Safe-Slab line, Appleton Mfg. Division says it’s been successful in modifying it to meet a variety of needs for several long time customers. The original Safe-Slab grew from a need in the industry for a blade-free, slabbing and core recycling system that safely and automatically removes leftover roll material. The scrap material,such as paper, film, foil, plastic or nonwovens, can then be recycled and the core reused.
The original Safe-Slab Core Recycler grew from one to three models: light, medium and heavy duty. In the stock configurations, they can handle rolls up to 32" in diameter, up to 96" in length and weights up to 1000 lbs. With variable unwinding speeds, the Safe-Slab Core Recycler plugs into any grounded 110v electrical outlet. Its compact design makes it easy to fit in small spaces. Depending on customer needs, one of the three Safe-Slab models can be modified for different applications. Add-ons such as sensors for monitoring roll thickness are available as well.
“The design of the Safe-Slab makes it customizable without breaking the budget,” says Paul Jacobs, Appleton Mfg. Division’s production manager. “It can be modified for different roll widths or weights, power sources, etc.”
The new P3 All-Around level loader from Presto Lifts, Norton, MA, USA, is designed to be economical as well as ergonomic. Though it requires no electrical power and little maintenance, it eliminates the productivity-robbing, injury-producing bending, lifting, reaching, and stretching common to pallet-loading applications.
The pneumatic airbag of the P3 All-Around automatically lowers or raises a pallet as products are added or removed, maintaining the top layer at a convenient height. A turntable ring (or optional solid turntable platform) at the top of the unit allows the user to spin the load so he or she can stand in the same spot throughout the loading or unloading process.
The stable base of the P3 All-Around is smaller than most competing equipment, the company says. This allows the user to step even closer to the unit’s platform, further improving the ergonomic benefits of the P3. Fork pockets at the base allow for easy relocation.
The P3 All-Around can accommodate loads from 400 to 4,500 lbs., depending on which of five spring packages is chosen by the customer (based on the anticipated weight and height of a fully loaded pallet). If needs change, the unit can be adapted easily in the field by changing its spring combination.