Materials Handling

By Steve Katz, Editor | April 7, 2017

Working without these products may cause employee injury, damaged goods and lost revenue.

Lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injury in any manufacturing environment, and a label converting pressroom is no exception. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and its most recent data, among the occupations that had among the highest number of cases in 2015 resulting in days away from work were laborers and freight, stock, and material movers – yes, those moving label materials are part of this category.

Label manufacturing materials are heavy – this includes rolls of labelstock prior to printing and converting, as well as finished goods. It also includes the equipment essential to a workflow – dies and tooling, and also drums of inks, coatings, and in some situations, even adhesives. Lifting heavy objects such as these incorrectly or without proper machinery can not only result in worker injury but can also result in damaged products, both raw materials as well as the tools of the trade.

When discussing materials handling in the label industry, it’s essential to take a look at not only the industrial equipment within a shop that’s used to lift and move materials but also products that would fall under the consumables category – supplies that protect rolls of labels in transit to the customer, and products that protect items, such as cylinders and anilox rolls from damage, are considered materials handling products. With that in mind, what follows details some of the materials handling products available to label manufacturers from some of the industry’s leading suppliers.

AzTech Converting
Within the tag and label industry, Aztech Converting Systems is a pioneer in supplying rugged, versatile, and affordable mobile roll material handling solutions. Aztech’s Roll Runner Series of roll handling equipment is designed to transport and transfer material to and from a customer’s press.

“Obviously, handling rolled material is difficult and without the proper equipment, employee injuries should be considered not if an injury will occur but when an injury will take place,” stresses Mark Struckman, Material Handling sales for Aztech Converting. “Aztech roll handling equipment will not only reduce workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims, but also streamline production getting the materials on and off the press quickly and safely.”

Aztech mobile roll handling equipment is available in 400 lb., 800 lb. and 1,500 lb. weight capacities and is equipped to handle a multitude of lift height requirements. Aztech quick change attachments allow an operator to change attachments in a matter of seconds for various projects throughout a production facility.

“One of the major challenges in the tag and label industry is that of getting roll materials rotated from the stacked position to the operating position,” Struckman explains. “Aztech offers several options for performing this task, from the E-Z Tilt Series, designed to rotate rolls of material weighing up to 600 lbs, to the Pal-A-Tilt Series, which is designed to rotate jumbo rolls of material or an entire pallet load of material weighing up to 3,000 lbs.”

The handling of heavy and expensive dies is another challenge that plagues the tag and label industry, and Aztech offers products that address this. Explains Struckman, “An operator reaching over a press wall to change out a die with the slightest wrong twist or turn could cause a damaged die or, even worse, lead to injury. Aztech DL-300 series and MCL-400 mobile crane die lifting equipment are specifically designed to handle this difficult task saving time, while reducing tool damage and potential injuries.”

Anderson & Vreeland
The Anderson & Vreeland Equipment Team offers ergonomic lifting devices from RonI, which can lift anything from drums, to slit rolls, to stock room supplies, to print sleeves (wide-web). A&V supplies devices with ergonomic solutions for just about every lifting application there is, and according to the company, its narrow web roll handling products are particularly popular.

The benefits of RonI ergonomic lifting products include employee safety, as they help prevent workplace injuries. There are short-term ROI benefits as an insurance claim will exceed the price of purchasing a lifting device. Lift-O-Flex  Automated Portable Lifters for Specialized Material Handling is a line of material handling equipment that offers huge advantages over stationary or manual systems. Lift-O-Flex  lifters are especially useful for the label industry where lifting, moving, and handling of large rolls of labelstock is commonplace. Unlike other lifting products such as lift carts, mobile lifting trolleys, hand cranked carts, pump carts, etc. Lift-O-Flex Ergonomic lifters offer distinct advantages, including ease of operation and unsurpassed load handling. Lift-O-Flex  lifters can be used in most production areas. Load attachments for multiple tasks can easily be changed to fit specific operational needs. Save time and money as you upgrade to accommodate increased production. Eliminate cost associated with moving fixed or automated equipment. Maximize your productivity with Lift-O-Flex  lifters. Eliminate disruptions to your manufacturing processes. Implement Lift-O-Flex  lifters today without expensive setup and training for immediate reduction of injury risks and related cost.Applications include, but are not limited to: Clean Room Environments, Packaging, Roll Handling, Drum Handling, Bucket Tipping.

Mark Andy Print Products
Proper material handling is an essential element to workflow efficiency. Manual lifting is awkward and cumbersome, adding potential dangers with poor ergonomics and unsafe options. Pressroom personnel can eliminate any lifting uncertainty with the Mark Andy Mobile Roll Lift (MRL) designed for lifting, handling and rotating raw material, finished rolls, dies and laminate rolls.

The MRL can be equipped with multiple attachments, is battery powered for improved ergonomics and safety, and constructed of premium stainless steel, providing a turn-key solution for your material handling needs - available in two different models.  The MRL C550 (550lbs lift) is designed as a higher capacity lift useful for all material handling applications, including lamination. This lift kit includes a 3" spindle, added height extension (to 84"), a horizontal extension (to 15.9") and a counter balance. The MRL C275 (275lbs lift) is designed for standard loading and unloading of substrates weighing less than 200 lbs. With a max reach of 60", it is not equipped for handling lamination rolls.

The company also offers a complete line of supplemental equipment  to support printing needs. Supported by Mark Andy Inc., the team offers more than 250 years’ combined technical expertise and support. In addition to the robust structure of personnel aimed to deliver high-quality products and service, the company has a 129,000 square foot distribution facility, plus four logistics centers coast-to-coast, specializing in timely deliveries of over 12,000 products for flexo, offset and more premium products to maximize productivity.

Foster, a major supplier of cutting devices and other postpress equipment for more than 65 years, has announced the immediate availability of the Foster On-a-Roll Lifter Spinner, the latest in the comprehensive Foster line of material handling equipment.  Designed specifically for use by converters, package printers and label manufacturers, the Spinner enables a single operator to safely and easily load rolls.  The two roller shafts allow the operator to spin the roll into the proper position for a production run. For roll unloading, the roll is spun in the opposite direction to break the friction lock.

Announcing the new lifter, Foster CEO Ted Borowsky said: “Media rolls are bigger and heavier as mills and converters seek to make their production workflow more efficient.  These larger rolls are heavy and unwieldy for operators and warehouse personnel to handle. Our new Foster On-a-Roll Lifter Spinner can accommodate rolls as wide as 61" (1500mm), with diameters as great as 24" (610mm).  With it, a single operator can safely manipulate media rolls in shops with limited floor space and can quickly and single-handedly position fresh rolls for quick and easy mounting and unloading.  It is available from Foster dealers around the world.”

For more than 65 years, Foster has provided finishing solutions for corporate users and businesses in the graphic arts industries. Founded as Foster Manufacturing, the company simplified the name to Foster in 2015 in recognition of a product line that has expanded well beyond cutters.  Throughout the Americas, Foster offers a complete selection of quality, precision cutters and trimmers for wide format, sign-making and display graphics production. As a worldwide HP partner, Foster provides a line of lifters for handling the large media rolls used in grand- and large-format printing. Foster products are distributed through a worldwide network of qualified graphic arts equipment dealers.

Gary Sharon, Litco’s VP Molded Products Group, emphasizes that 84% of all products distributed within the US are all or in part palletized when moving through supply chains from manufacturer to customer. He says, “The function of the pallet is to facilitate the distribution and protect the product. Many characteristics of a pallet influence these functions.” Litco offers an alternative to traditional wooden pallets. The company’s Inca molded hardwood plugs are engineered for ultimate crush resistance for rolled products. They are easy to insert into the roll ends, as the strength and crush resistance exceeds the industry standard. The molding process ensures consistent size and shape.

“Our Inca molded wood pallets are the best choice for shipping rolled products because of their high strength and stiffness and improved lead edge protection,” Sharon says. “They are typically $2.00 to $3.00 less than comparable new wooden pallets and priced slightly higher than used/rebuilt pallets.”

According to Sharon, the Inca pallets have a low moisture content and high resistance to mold. “They are approved for export shipments, as is,” he says, “without any extra heat treatment.They reduce injuries and lost time accidents because they weigh less and do not have protruding nails and loose boards.” Inca molded wood pallets are available in most popular sizes, including the 48" x 40", 24" x 40" half size and a 20"x24" quarter size. Litco offers two molded wood products for transport packaging; molded hard wood core plugs and molded wood pallets.

Sustainability is one of the key benefits provided by Litco’s molded pallets and core plugs. “They are the first pallets to achieve the honor of  Cradle to Cradle Certification by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC),” Sharon explains. “This was earned for demonstrating leadership in integrating recycled content into products and working to design eco-intelligent products.”

Marshall S. White, a consultant and specialist in pallet design and functionality, examined and tested Litco’s products and came up with the following determination. “The static strength of the Inca pallet is greater than any of the traditional new or repaired pallets tested. Based on these tests, the static safe working load of the Inca pallet is about 20% to 30% greater capacity.

“A broken pallet can no longer protect the packaged product,” White adds. “The most common damages occurring to a pallet are caused by fork lifts impacting the top deck edges. Litco’s Inca pallets are 10% to 33% lighter than the GMA pallets depending on design. Lighter weight pallets are easier to handle manually when they are lifted and moved empty. There will be fewer injuries and workers’ compensation claims. When shipping heavy unit loads, more product can be shipped per load when lighter weight pallets are used.

Badger Plug
“In the big picture, proper roll handling is not just managing roll material on and off a converting machine,” explains Tom Duffy, national sales manager for Badger Plug, a supplier of a wide range of roll protection products. “It should also embrace the preparation of finished rolls for safe delivery to the customer. Without the right roll protection components ready to use, delivery schedules can suffer, or rolls might ship without adequate protection.”

This is the area in which Badger Plug specializes. Damage to any roll material during transit commonly stems from using the wrong packaging components, Duffy explains. “Bad decisions made primarily on cost can end up being really expensive. Like anything in this world, you get what you pay for. Rely on professionals to attain the best advice and in the end, the right solution,” Duffy says.
Badger Plug offers a wide range of protection products for rolls of all sizes. The Vertical Pack system is ideal for unitizing and protecting stacks of rolls on a pallet. This system uses double and single core plugs to interlock rolls with protective slip sheets in between. The system reduces labor creating the shipment, and provides economy of shipping multiple rolls safely and securely.

“Larger rolls might need to be suspended using our H-Pack system,” Duffy says. “Wood end boards and plastic sleeve plugs suspend rolls. H and U Channels, along with special timber braces, can also be used to stack and unitize suspended rolls. Again, palletizing time is minimized and these larger rolls will arrive in good condition ready to use by the customer.”

Plastic pad plugs are typically used to suspend single, lighter weight rolls. Core plugs are available in over 100 different styles and sizes in wood, plastic and metal.