Options abound for printers seeking to bring the slitting department up to par with newer presses and other primary equipment.
by Susan Friedman
When it comes to equipment upgrade priorities, package printers have traditionally pushed slitters toward the back of the line. Technology is now in place to end productivity imbalances caused by using older slitters with more advanced pressroom machinery.
"The slitting department has become a bottleneck because slitting equipment made in the 1960s has stayed in use while presses, laminators and other equipment are being updated," observes Randy Wolf, sales manager at Titan Converting Equipment, Cumming, GA.
Advanced slitter productivity features are within financial reach for converters because a single investment will buy multiple-machine capacity. One newer slitter achieving speeds of 1500 fpm is a potential replacement for three older slitters running at 500 fpm, Wolf contends.
Slitting's speed emphasis is paralled by the focus on maximized uptime. Wolf relates many converters are asking for differential rewind air shafts, a technology "still in the toddler stage" that will decrease downtime between slitting jobs, by eliminating shaft handling and adjustments to quick-locks and other devices.
Automation, of course, continues to reign supreme as the underlying efficiency vehicle. "Automation has been the key word in slitting for three or four years, with emphasis on more electronics, more measuring devices, less labor-intensive machinery and maximized productivity with a minimum of employee training," states Jerry Sellers, president of Burris Machinery, Hickory, NC.
Slitting is also achieving a more favorable place on the process line. Don Klein, western regional manager for Camas, WA-based Tidland, notes slitting is becoming more productive as it is more often seen in-line. This trend goes hand-in-hand, he notes, with slitting suppliers' increased interaction with press suppliers at the OEM stage, and the increased number of presses being supplied with video inspection equipment that facilitates on-line print quality monitoring of slit rolls.