Pioneering a New Era in Paperboard Production

What does it take to succeed in the highly competitive European paperboard market?

Aw 1441 1009 S Safety Side

“Maintaining extremely short delivery times for an extensive range of products is an important competitive advantage,” says Tino Lorenz, manager of the P-Well GmbH corrugated paperboard plant in Bad Bentheim, Germany. That’s why reliability ranked equally high with productivity and precision when purchasing the plant’s first rotary die machine. The goal was to employ direct printing on the company’s corrugated paperboard and to be able to further process the material into fully cut packages, thereby expanding its product line. P-Well chose a ServoGrafix machine from MarquipWardUnited (MWU), Phillips, Wis., with controls by B&R Industrial Automation, the Austrian firm with U.S. headquarters in Roswell, Ga.

“The machine concept presented by MWU matched our plans perfectly,” states Lorenz. “The combination of the robust machine construction provided by MWU and the advanced drive and control solutions provided by B&R promised a high degree of reliability and productivity with comprehensive functionality and ease of operation.”

The machine, now in operation at Bad Bentheim, produces up to 11,500 sheets per hour and does it at the lowest possible cost per 1,000 square meter of processed paperboard. It is equipped with four ink chambers for P-Well (more than 10 are possible) for machines with the highest-grade flexo direct printing features, and has delivered on the promise of high throughput, reliable and safe operation, environmentally-friendly handling of sheet material, minimal waste and high precision.

These characteristics were achieved through the use of servo motors. Some 47 servo drives from B&R‘s Acoposmulti device series are used to drive 52 servo motors in the four-color machine at P-Well. This also includes motors with a direct, gearless connection to the printing unit shaft—an innovation that delivers higher precision, is more robust and consumes less energy than conventional solutions.

High-precision printing

The higher printing precision is also due largely to the fact that the servos are driven individually. As an example, this means that the cylinders can be driven at different speeds, if necessary, and the printing length can be temporarily adjusted, even during the printing process. This makes it possible to compensate for the image distortion that is inherent in flexo printing with photopolymer printing plates and significantly improves printing quality.

Misprints caused by operating mistakes are reduced to a minimum with ServoGrafix because the user interface employs a process-oriented design (SmartControl), as opposed to one that is machine-oriented. This ensures operation that is workflow-oriented and user-friendly. The system operator no longer has to enter individual parameters such as the column size. Instead, he or she can choose meaningful, production-relevant values such as the position of the printed image. The control and drive solution then handles all of the necessary settings automatically. This makes it possible to utilize the machine‘s full potential after a brief learning period.

“This was made easier for us by the fact that we no longer have to rely on different suppliers because B&R meets all of our needs,” explains Thomas Hartmann, product & project manager of converting equipment at the German subsidiary of MWU, who planned and accompanied installation and commissioning of the new machine at P-Well. “This and other factors, such as high reliability and the uniformity of the B&R solution, were decisive in our choice of B&R as preferred automation technology supplier for our machines.”

Clear advantages

Plant manager Lorenz confirms this and sees clear advantages for his company through the use of B&R technology. “In practice, this means that fine-tuning is possible during production and that all of the crucial machine data can be easily accessed, saved and re-called for a subsequent job by the system controller. This results in shorter set-up times—a decisive advantage in a competitive market.”

Machine operation, including set-up, is supported by B&R‘s integrated safety features. A total of 71 safety modules from the X20 System device series control a total of 280 channels. “We are now among the first users to employ these modules,” adds Hartmann. “Although there were some growing pains with the brand new technology, B&R reacted immediately and effectively. They replicated the drive and control structure of the entire machine at their headquarters in Eggelsberg and corrected the problem.”

The efforts were rewarded: With the new ServoGrafix die cutter, MWU and B&R can legitimately claim to have raised the bar for high-end rotary die cutters. “The machine is more than capable of competing in Europe and beyond. That‘s why the next machine is already on the way,” notes MWU’s Hartmann.

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