When retro shows great foresight

Upgrading slitter/rewinders as opposed to purchasing new might be termed retrofit but it is definitely not a backward step. We asked some leading suppliers about their services

Retrofit is in keeping with a trend for sustainable solutions. By expanding the capabilities of their existing set-up, converters are able to increase productivity cost-effectively with minimal disruption to operations. Many leading suppliers offer a range of field-tested retrofit and upgrade services that provide significant technical improvements to enhance a machine’s functionality. For a much smaller investment these options allow the customer to improve operations, reduce downtime and increase both production quality and the value of the machine.


Individual service

“Our retrofit packages are tailormade for converter machines,” explains Othmar Hoffman, life cycle service, Kampf. “They maintain and boost productivity and allow customers to continue production without restriction in the period leading up to investment in a new machine.”

The configuration and conceptual design of Kampf’s retrofit sets make it possible to carry them out in progressive stages; the degree of modernisation can be selected individually. Examples from Kampf include its M-package: installation of a gluing table; and E-package: electronic modernisation of visualisation. Further retrofit sets are in the pipeline, says Hoffman. Removing obsolescence Atlas & Titan spare parts are available across the complete range. Furthermore, upgrades and retrofits can be provided to remove obsolescence, improve rewind quality, reduce maintenance costs and extend the lifecycle of existing equipment.

“Demand for retrofit solutions comes from all parts of the world although the ‘mature’ markets of North America and Europe offer much greater potential,” comments managing director Alan Johnson. “Having said that, Atlas has been selling primary film slitters in China for more than 20 years so this is now becoming an important market for upgrades.”

While the economic situation has a bearing on the take-up of retrofit and upgrade solutions, there are very real advantages to choosing this option that prevail even when funds are not tight.

“Converters realise that upgrading older machines will make them more productive and extend their working life,” continues Johnson. “Productivity is possibly the most important issue to be addressed these days.

With certain machine upgrades, reduction of manpower can be considerable over the prolonged life of the equipment.

“In many instances, due to the high quality of the mechanical build specification of our machines, they are still fully operational but can be made much more productive by retrofitting superior replacement machine parts and especially control systems which makes the machine much easier to operate.”

Major overhaul

One example of this is Applied Extrusion Technologies (AET) a leading manufacturer of specialised oriented polypropylene (OPP) plastic films providing film technology for flexible packaging materials, product labelling, consumer packaging, graphic media and building products. Its consumer packaging films are supplied for food and confectionary, compact discs, box overwrap, pet foods and tobacco products.

In 2010 the company commenced a programme of expanding slitting capacity with the upgrade in specification of an ageing 8 metre wide Atlas CW982 AP primary film slitter installed in 1989. Nothing wrong with the mechanics, the original spec of the slitter could not keep up with the demands of today’s BOPP film production requirements

A major overhaul of the obsolete machine control system by Atlas engineers with support from AET technicians on-site reduced the 22 original electrical control panels to seven, making a lot more space while dramatically reducing power consumption. All of the old transformers were replaced with active dynamic drive technology, making the machine much more efficient, reliable and more productive.

The Atlas slitter now has all AC web drives throughout, new rewind arm positioning and automatic knife positioning systems which enable faster changeovers between production runs and much less machine downtime. The control desks for the unwind/rewind side of the machine have been upgraded with new PC and PLC technology, making the slitter more user friendly and easier to operate with an extensive data storage facility. The slitter now runs at 3,300 ft/min (1000 m/min) compared to 2000 ft/min (610 m/min) previously and with much better roll quality.


Faster commissioning

A long-standing customer in Switzerland commissioned GOEBEL to upgrade one of its optislit machines supplied in 1989.

LandQart specialises in the manufacture of high-quality security and special paper used for bank notes, passports, cheques, transport tickets and tax stamps. Suited to process all coated and printsensitive paper types, the optislit has a combined shaftless and reel spool unwind unit which enables LandQart to convert rolls from different production lines. It is not surprising for the failure rate of machines to increase over more than 20 years of operation and equally natural for service personnel´s specific know-how in respect of hardware and software from the 1980s to decrease. However, the mechanics of the GOEBEL machine is still in excellent condition and the customer wishes to continue benefiting from its high quality.

Furthermore, a retrofit guarantees availability and productivity in the long term. One extremely efficient and economic option therefore is for the electrical engineering equipment to be partly or completely renewed.

This retrofit is based on Siemens automation technology which has been used on all the company´s new systems for several years. As all components come from one source, LandQart receives a new technology that is perfectly coordinated. This simplifies and speeds up to machine commissioning, contributes significantly to short modification times and downtimes and reduces the lengthy training effort for the customer´s employees.

Furthermore, the control system is exchanged for a modern Simatic S7-300 with Profibus/Profinet-enabled CPU S7- 319PN/DP. At the I/O level, the Simatic ET200M modular peripheral system allows complex application-specific automation solutions to be implemented with relatively little effort. It also supports potential remote machine diagnostics and maintenance (via modem or LAN router)

In the case of LandQart´s optislit, the original DC motors and their cabling are still in good condition, prompting the decision to replace only the obsolete analogue power converters by up-to-date systems. In addition, the system is equipped with a high-performance industrial PC with a convenient, robust industrial monitor. Data is captured, displayed and archived using Simatic WinCC. The open nature of this software allows customers to integrate their own add-on tools programmed in C++.

This gives rise to an often significant increase in ease of use and functionality and allows the machine to be operated more efficiently and more safely.

Owing to its experience in conversions and upgrades, GOEBEL can guarantee the shortest downtimes and a perfect machine start-up. Even in the event of a complete replacement of hardware and software, its specialists are able to provide implementation within an exactly specified time frame. Those responsible at LandQart were completely convinced by the retrofit concept.


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