Keeping It in Line
A look at today's cost-cutting web-handling technologies.
TODAY'S PRESS OPERATORS don't have to be the fiddling wizards of yesteryear's press rooms. As technology continues to improve, operators have less tinkering to do in order to keep the web in register and maintain the appropriate tension control than compared to even a few years ago.
Automatically adjusting edge detectors and rolls designed to mitigate web-troubling deflection, to name just a couple, make an operator's job that much easier. But even with the most advanced technology available, do all printers and converters need top-of-the-line web handling equipment?
"If you define top-of-the-line equipment as expensive or loaded with superfluous features—bells and whistles for which most converters have absolutely no need—the answer would be no. But, if you define top-of-the-line equipment with words like simplicity, dependability, versatility, and efficiency, the answer would be a resounding yes," said Robert Duffy, president of Airtech Converting Equipment.
However, that's not to say that investing in new web-handling equipment when the time comes isn't a good idea, said Jim Edmondson, president of Pyramid Creative Group, Inc., a B2B marketing communications firm that represents such companies as Webex Inc. and AccuWeb, Inc.
"There are lots of converting operations with machinery held together with twist ties and duct tape. While those companies are able to put product out the door, they are historically not the ones that survive the long haul, as changing materials and application technologies emerge within our ever-changing world," Edmondson said. "If one looks closely at the larger, industry-leading converters and web processors, you are more likely to find organizations that routinely investigate and apply new and/or custom web-handling solutions and technologies found in today's leading-edge machinery and components. In the end, everything is relative. If your customers will remain forever loyal and happy with the product being provided, and no additional revenues or profits are of interest, why change? The fact is, however, most corporations are driven to achieve more."