Tom Duffy
National Sales Manager
Badger Plug Company
Over 30 years with the company
(920) 757-7300

Al Waller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
Over 25 years in the industry
(608) 884-2201

Randy Apperson
Director of Sales and Marketing
Finzer Roller, Inc.
16 years with the company
(847) 390-6200


Q: What rolls or roll handling products does your company provide? What’s been the most popular recently?

Duffy: Badger Plug makes protective packaging solutions for safely shipping and storing roll products. Our roll protection products include a wide variety of wood, metal and plastic plugs that help prevent core and roll damage. Special Double Plugs are used for stacking and unitizing pallets of slit rolls. Our roll suspension products include the industry’s widest variety of plastic Pad Plugs, as well as Endboard systems for protecting medium to large rolls in single or multi-roll configurations.

Waller: Componex provides the converting industry with a technology that surpasses its competitors. We offer WINertia Precision Idler Rollers, a uniquely designed, patented precision idler roller that has extremely low rotational inertia, while maintaining maximum strength across the entire length of the roll. WINtrac provides ultra-high traction and ultra-high release idler roll coatings for ink and adhesive applications. The new WINtrac thermal spray coatings are formulated for a wide range of applications, including web roll handling, printing processes and adhesive applications. This unique thermal spray coating process was especially designed to complement and enhance WINertia aluminum idler rollers. The WINtrac thermal spray coating is directly integrated with the WINertia aluminum idler roller manufacturing process. WINertia AV Idler Rolls with built-in “Air Vents” (lateral grooves) remove trapped air to maintain constant web traction and prevent web scratching, slipping and sliding. WINertia AV Spreader Roll is machined with a smaller diameter in the center than at the ends, which spreads the web from the center out and removes wrinkles and improves web quality. WINertia Self-Adjusting Bearings self-adjust radially to compensate for roller deflection and linearly to compensate for thermal expansion and contraction, allowing constant free spinning rotation.

Apperson: Finzer Roller has eight manufacturing facilities in North America that can regrind, recover, repair and make new rubber covered rollers using custom-blended compounds, as well as polyurethane for use in flexible packaging manufacturing processes. Finzer also offers brush rollers used in web tensioning and web cleaning, as well as chrome, tungsten and ceramic rollers. Repairing journals, cores and bearing surfaces and brush re-bristling are common services.

Our newest product is the Protective Rollcover that provides added protection to rolls during shipping, storage, installation or machine maintenance. Each cover is like a custom-sized blanket with industrial-grade straps and Velcro fasteners. Rollcovers can also protect operators removing hot doctor rolls for repair. There’s no lost time waiting for rollers to cool. The wrap can ship to Finzer right on the damaged roller, returning to the customer on the refinished roll.


Q: There seems to be a consensus that, while always having been important, roll protection is more crucial today than it’s ever been. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Apperson: Rubber-covered rolls may appear to have a firm surface, but are still susceptible to nicks, scratches or unwanted impressions that can occur during transit or handling. The surface of the roller and its ability to run absolutely true directly impacts the outcome of the web product. Any defects or damage to the roller surface or damage to the journals, keyways or bearings could transfer to the substrate and create bad product. The cost of roller replacement or repair is also simply lost profit – not to mention the cost of any related downtime.

Waller: Doing business in the converting industry is highly competitive, and so the need for roll protection is extremely important. Idler rolls that are not functioning properly are idler rolls that are not producing product, and that translates to lost revenue for the company. Any downtime for a company can really handicap production. Luckily for the industry, Componex offers an industry-first 5-day turnaround for idler rolls, from written order to delivery. That means less downtime when rolls are in need of immediate replacement.

Duffy: Rolls continue to get larger and more expensive. Without the right plug, cores and/or rolls can become deformed or crushed, rendering the roll potentially useless at any point in the production process all the way to the final customer. Protecting these valuable rolls is becoming more and more critical to maintaining customer loyalty, brand integrity and market share. Productivity lost to a damaged roll becomes a big headache for everyone.


Q: What can be done to better protect rolls, notably when they’re in transit from manufacturer to customer?

Duffy: Roll damage can occur during the rocky road to the final destination or with rough handling at any point. Using roll protection solutions is the start. Using the right product with the right strength or configuration is equally important. We can consult our clients on the best protection solutions. In a few cases, trial applications are needed to ensure the right product is being used.

Apperson: Roll crates can often encounter rough handling by forklift operators. Crates get pushed into tractor trailers, pierced with forks, flipped over and more. A sturdy wood crate is critical to protecting a roller, but journal cradles must have top blocking that locks every roll in place when the crate is closed. Blocking should be positioned as close to the roll body as possible to prevent journal bowing or roll deflection.

Waller: Just like converters have to send finished, undamaged webs of flexible film to their customers, Componex promises to send high-precision aluminum idler rolls to our customers. We have designed custom shipping crates to protect each idler roll that we ship from our manufacturing plant to your manufacturing plant.


Q: What are some things that converters should keep in mind when it comes to roll handling, maintenance and storage?

Waller: Idler rolls, as any machinery and equipment, require routine checks and maintenance to make sure everything runs smoothly. For some idler rollers, that means replacing bearings and coronas. But Componex has answered that problem with WINertia Self-Adjusting Bearings, which self-adjust radially to compensate for roller deflection and linearly to compensate for thermal expansion and contraction, allowing constant free spinning rotation.

Duffy: The right roll protection product not only helps prevent roll damage, but can also reduce roll packaging time. For example, our E-Z Locator Single and Double Plugs not only help unitize slit rolls in a stack, they help “feed” the core onto the plug during stacking by hand or robotic package assembly. A pallet of well-unitized rolls of any configuration is also easier and safer to stretch wrap.

Apperson: Rubber-covered rollers should be stored in a cool, dry environment – 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably. Rotate rollers 180 degrees every couple of months when stored long-term. Leave protective wrapping on rollers until installed (Finzer’s roll wrap protects roller coverings from damaging UV light). Allow newly delivered rollers to acclimate to ambient temperatures, especially following cold-weather shipping. Avoid lifting rollers with strapping on the roll face.


Q: What’s something that a lot of converters don’t know about rolls and roll handling, but should know?

Apperson: Pressure should be released on rubber-covered rollers when the machine is idle. Always verify the appropriate chemicals for cleaning rubber surfaces. Operators should regularly monitor roller durometer for changes. Regrinding rubber-covered rollers, if machine adjustment allows, is the best way to ensure long-term performance.

Waller: Many people think that dead shaft idler rolls cannot be improved upon or better technology cannot be applied to this piece of equipment. At Componex, we know that is simply untrue. With air-vented (AV) rolls, we can remove air, maintain traction and the web will be wrinkle free. This means running at speeds 10-15 times faster than a standard idler roll. The faster the machinery runs, the more you’re producing and the more revenue you’re generating. As an industry, improving upon technology makes us competitive in the global market.


Q: Is there anything else you’d care to share about rolls and roll handling?

Duffy: In most cases, the greatest risk to cores and rolls takes place during transit. Rolls that arrive damaged can cause production delays and lost revenue. Damaged rolls due to poor or inadequate roll packaging can also hurt the producer’s reputation and ultimately their credibility.

Waller: When talking about idler rollers that control a web, traction is so important. If you maintain traction, you can handle materials at a much faster speed. The other key component to maximizing speed is alignment. Alignment is so important because it prevents the web from steering off of the roll. Taking into account both traction and alignment, the machine will perform faster than it has ever run before.