The Integral Points of Web Guiding
Thomas J. Jonozzo's 9 years as general manager of guiding systems at Fives North American helps contribute to his knowledge and insight.
Flexible Packaging: What can be improved upon when a converter is looking for better web guiding?Jonozzo: It is of utmost importance for converters to recognize that optimal web guiding is inexorably dependent upon and directly related to proper tension control, machine alignment, web path layout, and equipment maintenance.
For a typical two roll displacement-type web guide commonly found on flexible packaging lines, proper web guiding control assumes there is frictional contact between the web and the guide roll, and it is maintained.
With poor tension control, the material may not be consistently held in contact with the guide roll resulting in little or no correction or even erratic web guide behavior. A key point of understanding web guiding is that it is the interaction of these four factors that enable a converter to reliably and optimally process their substrates.
FP: What kinds of trends/technologies is the web guiding control sector seeing?Jonozzo: Smarter, faster, and more compact. As industrial computing, basic sensor research, and linear motion control technology progress, this trend will continue as it has historically.
Web guiding will continue to become more seamlessly integrated in a process line’s machine design and automation. Sensor technology will expand to handle a broader array of materials and with greater precision.
FP: What are Fives North American's customers requesting?Jonozzo: With the economy rebounding and more capacity being returned to production, converters are beginning to re-invest in their existing equipment. The economic recession was fairly quick and deep, to the point where maintenance spending and small capital projects were halted.
Early in the rebound, ample capacity existed, so these small investments were not necessary. Now though, as demand continues to increase, we are seeing more and more converters spend to update and replace legacy equipment and resolve nagging issues.
FP: Why is web guiding such an important part of the converting process?Jonozzo: Simply put, properly applied web guiding allows a converter to achieve maximum machine output and the best possible product quality with less than ideal incoming material shape and minor machine alignment issues.
Also, even if material quality was not a consideration, web guiding enables a converter to control their substrate’s lateral position just prior to a critical process like a print station or laminator.
FP: How would you characterize this market?Jonozzo: The web guiding market for North America is highly competitive and well represented. Converters are extremely fortunate to have a number of very reputable, well respected, and established companies supplying web guiding products to them. Certainly there are differences among suppliers, but by-and-large, converters’ can be assured their web handling concerns can be resolved.
FP: Anything new and exciting at Fives?Jonozzo: Actually, becoming part of the Fives Group team has yielded some synergies globally and FivesNA Guiding Systems has some great products in the pipeline – stay tuned!
Fives North American
Factors to Consider for Web GuidingJonozzo says there is a fairly lengthy list of variables and it is extremely dependent upon the converter. His quick checklist includes:
_specific guiding application
_the current problem
_current method of guiding in use
_the converter’s desired goal
_accuracy desired, substrate(s) being processed
_the material(s)’ key properties – width(s), thickness(es), opacity, elasticity, etc.
_maximum line speed
Once these factors are known, a web guiding professional can begin to offer assistance and explore other aspects of the converter’s application and needs. A converter should never underestimate the value in applying the correct type of web guide control and how it specifically fits within their overall process.
Possible Web Guiding ProblemsAs it relates to converters’ costs, the most common issues are:
_unplanned line stoppages due to material off-tracking
¬_decreased production due to operating at less than maximum line speeds
_excessive material scrap
_large slit trim widths resulting in further waste
_poor wound roll quality
In addition to these process-related issues, a caution is provided that misapplying web guiding can result in the control system inducing more error in the system.