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Sprintera pushes efficiency

Production speeds and change-over times of the first installation of the Bobst Sprintera 145 PER die cutter have impressed Swiss carton producer Limmatdruck/Zeiler

Major European carton converter Limmatdruck/Zeiler (merged in 2000) is the first company to install a SPrintera 145 PER, the die cutter premiered by Bobst at drupa 2004. Part of the Coparco/Copapharm alliance, the packaging division of the Spreitenbach, Switzerland, based company claims to be Europe’s fourth largest carton producer.

Well established as a supplier of turnkey solutions, it has forged a reputation in food, non food, pharmaceutical, and confectionery packaging with its trademarks including ZetKLIK, ZetSLIDE, ZetPUSH and ZetPHARM. Its customers include blue chips such as Nestlé, Kraft Foods, Cadbury, Procter & Gamble, Ricola, Roche and Wrigley.

Limmatdruck/Zeiler AG currently produces over 2,000M cartons/year and employs 370 people in the packaging division. Sales turnover of the division in 2003 was Swiss Fr91M (€60M) and it is certified to ISO 9001, 140001, DIS 2001 and BRC/IoP.

Just what were the factors that made the company opt for the latest Bobst die cutter? Sebastian Gerald (who has management responsibility for quality and was project leader) said: “These were, in the first place, a response to the positive experience we have had with the SPrintera 106 PER model at both Zeiler and Limmatdruck. Secondly, we benefited from the fact that our operators are able to run both machines because the principles are the same. Those operators who have worked on the SPrintera 106 PER are very quickly at ease with this new machine.” Head of the packaging division Ulrich Nydegger added: “Our calculations showed that this would be a profitable investment”.

The installation and start-up were carried out during August last year. With a claimed production speed of up to 9,500 sheets/hour the SPrintera 145 PER is capable of handling a wide range of substrates from paper of a minimum weight of 80g/m2, paperboard up to 2,000g/mm2 and corrugated board, up to 5mm in thickness. The cutting format is 1,450 x 750mm (57 x 29.5in) and cutting force is 550t.

Start-up success

What were the initial impressions at Limmatdruck/Zeiler? “We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we were able to work well with this machine, given that it is the first of this model to be delivered by Bobst. I think that we are probably already exploiting 95 per cent of its potential,” said Ulrich Nydegger. “The installation and start-up went very well. Undoubtedly this machine has been tested at length and consequently is, in effect, a mature product. The machine has shown none of the defects of youth that might have caused us to lose availability, running as well as all our others do. It’s clear to us that Bobst have used all their resources to develop this new model,” stressed Sebastian Gerald.

Just how is it matching the claimed production speeds, its change-over times and productivity? “We have noted that its production speeds exceed that of the SP 142-CER by, on average, a thousand sheets an hour,” commented Sebastian Gerald, speaking two months after the installation. “We are convinced that this difference will grow, given that our operators are still in a period of training.”

“There is one thing that is obvious: we now have a smooth production flow where before we had a bottleneck in die cutting,” stressed Ulrich Nydegger. ” Moreover, the transportation of the sheets through the machine happens without sheet crashes and we’ve noted that accelerations and deceleration of the gripper bars occurs more gently, helping the machine reach higher speeds.”

And what about other materials? “In the future, we will also be cutting E-flute corrugated. We’ve already seen with the SPrintera 106 PER that its performance when cutting corrugated board is identical in terms of speed and quality with that of solid fibreboard,” replied Sebastian Gerald

Run lengths are changing throughout the packaging converting business. What is the average run length at the company and how did they see this changing? What proportion of the work was accounted for by repeat runs?

“For size VI (140 x 100cm), our average run length is around 15,000 sheets,” said Sebastian Gerald. “And we estimate that 80 per cent of orders are repeat orders.” Added Ulrich Nydegger: “Run lengths will become smaller because, in our Business to Business environment, production must be adapted to that of our customers. It means we have to be highly flexible and able to guarantee very short makeready times. These conditions are met by new technology machines because, while speeds of production are important, change-over times are even more important.”

When Bobst launched the machine during drupa it stressed the importance of a reduction in production stops and downtime. In the feeder area, for example the machine builder estimates that they have been reduced by 70 per cent thanks to Power Register. Did they agree?

“We cannot give precise figures yet,” said Ulrich Nydegger. “It might be 70 per cent, 80 per cent or 50 per cent, but our operators agree on one point – there are definitely less stops.

“The Power Register allows for a more reliable introduction of the sheet than conventional systems and in order to guarantee the highest degree of cutting accuracy we use the Power Register’s facility for registering to print marks on the sheet.”

Why did Limmatdruck/Zeiler opt for a machine equipped with an Automatic Pile Transfer (APT) logistics system? Sebastian Gerald said: “Productivity is considerably improved by using APT along with the automatic non stop, that is in comparison with the manual non stop we have on the older machines. This means that we can have a single operator with an assistant who helps with the loading and unloading of two machines.” And has there been an improvement in the ergonomics of the machine? “Operation with the CUBE II is an unquestionable advantage, because all control of the machine can be carried out with this system, “he explained. “The new control system also makes it possible to record adjustments that have been made, the principal advantage of which is the reduction in change over times.”

Other interesting features include the chase chaser, he pointed out. “It represents an unquestionable advantage since we only need to use two chases now. The similarity of the frames is such that adjustments are identical, independent of the frame used.”

Sebastian Gerald concluded: “Our investments in the SPrintera 106 PERs have proven to be very profitable. As for the SPrintera 145 PER, we have seen clear improvements compared to machines of previous generations. Because we are still in the training phase we still need a little time to maximize all the potential of the machine.”


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