Matthew Spang, Appleton MfgMatthew Spang
Product Manager, Material Handling Products
Appleton Mfg (A Double E company)
10 years with the company

Bill Mikolenko, Empire Rollers & Coatings Bill Mikolenko
Sales Engineer
Empire Rollers & Coatings
20 years with the company

Darren Irons, Maxcess Darren Irons
Global Product Manager, Precision Rolls
11 years with the company

Tom McGillis, Badger Plug Tom McGillis
VP of Sales
Badger Plug
More than 20 years with the company

We sat down and discussed rolls & roll handling with Matthew Spang from Appleton Mfg, Bill Mikolenko from Empire Rollers & Coatings, Darren Irons from Maxcess, and Tom McGillis from Badger Plug.

What role does your company play when it comes to rolls and/or roll handling? What products does your company offer?

Spang: At Appleton Mfg we developed the world’s first Battery-Powered RollMover. We did this because we recognized that there were serious safety hazards and inefficiencies related to the use compressed-air-driven roll pushers. Appleton designed the RollMover to safely and efficiently push rolls along the floor, and into stands or up onto floor trolleys. To date, Appleton Mfg has developed four off-the-shelf models, along with many custom models based on the specific application needs of our customers. Our engineering staff continues to add enhancements to the RollMover to increase safety and efficiency in converting operations. 


Appleton Mfg’s battery-operated RollMover
Appleton Mfg’s battery-operated RollMover enhances safety and increases productivity.


Irons: Maxcess provides a one-stop shop for most customer roll needs. We have recently formed the Precision Roll Division, which is comprised of Webex, Valley Roller, Menges and Componex. Between these brands, we provide Heat Transfer Rolls (both heat and chill rolls), Copper Rolls, Flaking Rolls, Vacuum Rolls, Live Shaft Rolls, Dead Shaft Rolls (both seamless and extruded), Bowed Rolls, Spreader Rolls and a wide array of rubber roll coverings. With the addition of Componex, we also have the capability to provide coatings for many rolls. 

Mikolenko: Empire Rollers & Coatings is a specialty roller manufacturer that applies proprietary coatings on its rollers. These rollers offer superior wear resistance, dielectric resistance, corrosion resistance and thermal capabilities. Some of our proprietary products include Glassteel Corona Treater Rolls, thermEnamel Heating and Cooling Rolls, and medEnamel Hygienic Rolls for food, medical and pharmaceutical packaging applications.

McGillis: 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.


Empire’s MedEnamel roller
Empire’s MedEnamel roller.


Did your company release anything new at Labelexpo? What are its plans for PACK EXPO?

Irons: Yes. Maxcess released a number of new products at Labelexpo. Specifically, for the Precision Rolls Division, Webex has a new line of Carbon Fiber Rolls that was announced at Labelexpo. The rolls are offered in 2, 3 and 4-inch varieties initially. The goal of the project is to reduce the time required to manufacture, which will come with an aggressive price and lead time. Additionally, Valley Roller is frequently adding new rubber compounds to address new and specific applications. The Precision Roll Division has a number of new projects in the works, which we look forward to introducing to the market over the coming months. 

McGillis: Badger Plug will display a wide assortment of roll protection products at PACK EXPO, including models of multiple roll packaging systems like the H-Pack, the Vertical Pack and the Roll Handler. Our roll protection experts will be in our PACK EXPO booth every day of the show to answer questions, help with product specifications and provide best practice solutions for all aspects of roll protection.

Mikolenko: At PACK EXPO we will be formally introducing our medEnamel roller. With increasing requirements for cleanliness and hygienic packaging in the food, medical and pharmaceutical industries, we designed our medEnamel roller to help packaging manufacturers meet these more stringent requirements and at the same time significantly improve wear and corrosion resistance.


Maxcess’ Precision Rolls Group
Maxcess’ Precision Rolls Group is comprised of the Webex, Valley Roller, Menges and Compone brands.


What’s something that a lot of people likely don’t know about rolls and/or rolling handling, but absolutely should know?

McGillis: The cost of roll protection is far less expensive than the resulting consequences of a damaged roll that was not properly protected for the journey to a customer. No one appreciates receiving a product that is blemished or damaged. It creates ill will and usually time wasted to resolve the matter, and sometimes lost production if rolls can’t be chucked. All this can result in damage to the brand, not just the roll product. 

Irons: Vacuum Rolls have many advantages for flexible packaging. The three most common for flexible packaging are: 1) The vacuum roll only contacts one side of the web, which is good for transporting a sensitive web or following a coating operation. 2) The vacuum roll can provide the holding force on the web to create different tension zones. 3) The vacuum roll can eliminate the need for nip rolls, resulting in a safer work environment. 

Spang: Pushing rolls by hand presents an unacceptably huge safety risk. By using a RollMover or roll pusher, an operator eliminates potentially dangerous muscle and joint strain and also keeps the knees and feet from the danger of roll back or impact. The power and safety features of a RollMover or roll pusher allows employees to work more productively over the entire shift and helps in eliminating fatigue and repetitive stress issues.

Mikolenko: Most people evaluate rollers based on upfront cost and to a lesser degree on functionality. What is important for people to know is that the design of a roller, and especially the coating on the roller, will have tremendous impacts on manufacturing efficiency, product quality and ongoing maintenance. For instance, we offer a 5-year warranty on our Glassteel Corona Treater Roll. This roller operates up to 40 percent more efficiently than other coatings. So while the cost of the roller may be greater initially, it will last much longer than other coatings, require significantly less maintenance and improve the consistency and quality of treatment.

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

Mikolenko: Just like any other piece of equipment, specialty rollers should be properly maintained to ensure they continue to meet or exceed the specifications for which they were designed. Journal bearings should also be checked to ensure abnormal wear is not occurring that could indicate misalignment. This typically involves simple visual inspections and cleaning as part of a preventative maintenance program. 

Irons: The Precision Rolls Group provides five locations to service your rolls. Whether it is acid or soy flushing your heat transfer rolls, regrinding your roll core, recovering your rubber roll, or countless other services we provide, we can greatly extend the life of your roll with preventative maintenance. 

McGillis: Once material is wound on a core, the physics impacting that core have changed greatly. Now, it’s no longer simply atmospheric pressure on the core’s surface, but a constricting circumferential force that varies based on the material and winding tension. Gravity also impacts a core by causing a roll’s mass to exert a downward force. These forces can deform and even crush quality cores. This is why core plugs are still one of the most common and effective means of protecting the roll core. And this is why Badger Plug offers core plugs in so many different materials, sizes and configurations – because there are so many variables in core sizes, wound materials, roll sizes and environmental conditions.


Badger Plug’s RollHandler
Badger Plug’s RollHandler can streamline preparation of multi-roll shipments while adding suspension and protection to the rolls during transit.


Spang: When placing and handling rolls, a RollMover or roll pusher is a great tool to advance the roll without damaging the outer layer(s) of web material. Simply use the RollMover at an angle and allow the weight of the roll to create traction for it. A simple twist will separate the rolls, allowing the operator to move the roll into the next phase of converting.

ln past Q&As, we’ve heard that roll protection can also help accelerate roll packaging time. Can you explain how?

Mikolenko: The condition of a roll surface can have a tremendous impact on manufacturing efficiency. 
lf there is not an optimal roller surface that is interacting with whatever substrate you are manufacturing, it will have the tendency to slow a line down and impact product quality. By having the proper roll surface, dwell time can be reduced and line speeds can be increased. 

McGillis: Our roll suspension and protection systems for shipping multiple rolls can easily speed prep for shipping, For example, the Vertical Pack allows quick stacking and unitizing of multiple slit rolls on a single pallet using manual labor or robotics. Our Double Plugs, used to interconnect roll cores, are shaped to help position each new roll on top of the previous one. When the stacks are complete, the pallet can be quickly stretch wrapped using automated machinery and ready to ship.

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

Spang: Roll movement is a risky endeavor. Providing a safe, easy-to-use solution is key to changing the way operators have done things in the past. The biggest risk is at the start and stop of the move, specific to a rolling load. The initial force to get the roll moving is ultimately many times higher than the force to keep the load rolling, and as such the highest injury risk is starting the roll. 

Mikolenko: A little bit of research and consultation with your roller manufacturer will go a long way. There are differences and nuances in each process. lf we understand your application and what you’re trying to accomplish, we can design the best roller for your needs. 

Irons: Web wrinkling is a common issue we are often asked to fix in applications. The top seven causes we have found for web wrinkling are poor machine alignment, poor roller geometry, poor web quality, excessive roll deflection, web expansion, unsupported webs and improper tension control. As equipment ages or is used for new purposes than originally intended, Maxcess has a team of inside and outside sales engineers to help identify and fix these issues in the field.

McGillis: 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 consult our customers on the best protection solutions. In a few cases, trial applications are needed to ensure the right product is being used.