Roll goods have changed a lot over the years. New materials are brought to the market every day. Converting machinery, driven by economy of scale, now runs larger and larger rolls. Consequently, more expensive materials and larger rolls are now the norm.

Trends in roll protection have changed accordingly. Stronger components have evolved to keep pace with heavier rolls. Yet, one basic tenet remains unchanged. Whether the rolls are large or small, lightweight or heavy, any roll product can quickly become worthless if the core or material is damaged.

Worthless Rolls

Without protection, roll products can be damaged several ways. Wound film creates significant tensions around the core. This can result in a progressive deformation of the core even when the roll simply sits in storage. The weight of larger rolls can also crush or deform a core.

Most roll damage occurs during transit. A bouncing ride can put excessive stress on cores and core plugs. Poor handling by forklift operators can result in physical damage to the roll and certainly the core. Rolls shipped on their sides can arrive with flat spots creating an out-of-round roll and often damaged product.

Out-of-round rolls cannot run at optimum speeds without violently shaking the unwind. Rolls with crushed or deformed cores often cannot accept shafts for further processing. If a damaged roll cannot be used, a dispute typically ensues as to who is responsible. More often than not, this is simply a lose-lose situation for all parties involved.

Once core damage occurs, one of the few solutions is to reshape the core. There are a variety of vendors that can help once the damage is done. The key is to prevent the damage in the first place.

The Experience Solution

It clearly behooves the producer of the web material to protect rolls properly prior to storage or shipping. Most do. Why then, do damaged rolls still plague the industry?

Sometimes, converters use the same roll protection after the rolls have changed in size, weight and value. Some simply guess at what to use or buy packaging components based solely on the price.

With so many roll protection variables to consider, the best solution is to get professional advice up front. An established provider of roll protection solutions who offers a range of components and systems will likely have the right solutions.

Suspend vs. Plug

Rolls of all sizes can be suspended end-to-end through a variety of protection solutions. When suspended, the weight of the roll is kept from deforming the roll or compressing the wound material. It also sits safely away from contaminations that can damage the material.

Today, small-to-medium rolls are commonly suspended with plastic pad plugs. Medium-to-large rolls are often better suspended with sleeve plugs fit through wooden end boards. The proper configuration and strength of these components are typically dictated by roll size and weight.

Heavy-duty systems for packaging single and multiple rolls can save labor time, shipping cost, and ultimately eliminate damage. End board systems can be stacked using special h-channels that interlock the boards.

Smaller slit rolls can also be packaged in bulk for proper protection. Double and single core plugs interlock rolls in a stack. Divider sheets between each layer help interlock the stacks. Stretch wrapping or box covers easily complete this package for shipment. This product packaging is also suitable for robotic assembly. Here again, the right roll protection product can save labor, time and material.

Core plugs come in a variety of shapes and sizes in metal, plastic and wood. The challenge for any converter is identifying the right make and model for their application. While core plugs can cost just pennies a piece, the wrong plug can quickly cost the producer in damaged product, lost time, and money wasted on the wrong plug in the first place.

Recycling Packaging Components

Many companies are recycling packaging components. Badger Plug Company initiated a green program in 1985 to recycle quality used packaging components. An ever growing number of companies are realizing the benefits of recycling packaging components. The success of this program relies greatly upon adequate inspection to eliminate any damaged components. Once inspected and/or refurbished, recycled components can be resold at significantly less cost than new product.

Along similar lines, many molded plastic plugs are made at a reduced cost from recycled plastic. Plugs made from virgin plastic are used for specific applications. Not surprising, increasing oil prices drive up plastic raw materials costs, making regrind products even more popular.

Quality Matters

Within the roll protection industry, it is surprising just how little, if any, quality control procedures are used. Some manufactures discharge mass-produced products into bins that simply get closed and shipped out the door without inspection, without lot or machine/operator identification – essentially without quality assurance measures of any kind.

While some may consider core plugs a commodity, various quality parameters should be monitored and managed during manufacturing as with any other product. This way, if product issues arise, they can be tracked back to the source/cause and corrective action taken. Quality issues can result in components that fit too loose or too tight, that warp, crack or bust apart under pressure, or simply fail to hold, suspend and protect the roll as intended.

Ask your supplier about the QC procedures and strength testing performed at their operation. A supplier with a clear and exact QC process is better equipped to provide the best recommendation for the ideal roll protection product.

There is a basic rule of thumb: The more valuable the roll, the more important roll protection becomes. The price of the roll however, does not necessarily dictate the cost of the roll protection solution.

To get the right roll protection for the right application, don’t guess. Talk to an experienced and trusted provider who can offer a range of protection solutions.

Badger Plug Company
(920) 757-7300