Modular design, on-board control instrumentation and integrated wiring, easy installation even in existing lines. With these basic principles, an Italian company offers its embossing solutions to the international market.
Upgrading the machinery and systems used in a manufacturing line is important to ensure the best possible process efficiency and safe operations for those working on it. In large and complex lines such as those in the tissue manufacturing and converting industry, upgrading a line requires substantial investment. The best choice is therefore the use of modular structures and machines, complete with all the equipment and ready to be installed.
This is the philosophy behind the technology designed and built by Maflex an Italian company based in Lucca with an international presence. «Right from the start, since the company was founded, we have applied our basic principles to all our converting lines» explains Michele Renai, sales manager at Maflex. «We design several machines – uncoilers, embossers, laminators, etc. – and various modules, each of which is equipped with its own panels and on-board electrical panels that allow them to be installed in any facility and upgraded quickly». And it was precisely this important modernisation that Renai spoke about at Miac 2021, presenting the new version of the Heracle embosser/laminator.
Automatic roller replacement
«Heracle has been part of our product portfolio since 2010» says the engineer. «It is our fastest embosser/laminator and we have now upgraded it. We have now upgraded it. Now you can install an optional feature on the Heracle that allows you to change the embossing roller safely and quickly». A development, explains Renai, that stems from the feedback received from customers in the converting industry, needs that speak to the importance of having greater flexibility and the ability to make faster machine changes.
It was precisely to optimise these aspects that the solution was devised to allow the rollers to be replaced automatically, without the need for manual intervention. The machine was equipped with two integrated hydraulic and telescopic arms to replace the steel top roller. It is possible to alternate, in a fully automatic manner, the different engraved rollers for embossing the upper web. The entire operation not only takes just a few minutes but is carried out behind closed doors, with management taking place directly from the operator panel.
«The hydraulic lifting arms hook up the top steel roller and lift it to a storage position» explains Renai.
«In the upper part of the machine we have created 3 positions for the steel rollers, one of which is used to store the roller being processed in the machine. Once the changeover operation has been carried out and the line restarts, the operator can manage the roller stored in the upper part of the embosser using a crane or tools used in the factory for handling rollers». This configuration, explains the Maflex engineer, means that there is no limit to the capacity of the new embosser to store the rollers, leaving maximum freedom in their management. «It is therefore possible to access the stored rolls and take them out of the line, in complete safety, in order to carry out the various operations required, for example to clean them or to replace them, or even to store them differently. The position of the waiting rollers above the machine, together with the Heracle’s automatic selection and changeover, are strategic elements as they allow you to make as many embossing changes as you wish. While the machine is working with one embossing pattern, the operator can simply select one of the other two stored rolls from the control panel and the machine will perform the changeover without having to break the paper web».
One of the most interesting facts about this operation is the time required. «The entire roller change takes only about three minutes».
As far as the bottom rollers are concerned, «the machine has two steel rollers on board, one generally used for DERL (Double Embossed Random Laminating) and the other for DESL (Double Embosser Synchronizer Lamination). However, there may be different combinations, depending on the needs of the mill».
Safety procedure and continuity
The ability to maintain operational continuity is, as mentioned, one of the most interesting features of the new embosser/laminator. «If only the top roller has to be changed and the job is not finished, there is no need to stop the line. This means there is no need to break the fabric». In addition, Renai recalls, «all the rollers in the embosser – so the steel rollers, the plate, the marry roll and the rubber one – can be connected to the machine with two flanges. Each roller can therefore be changed simply and within a maximum of 30 minutes».
The safety aspect of the new design was given particular consideration. «It was pointed out that the roller change operation does not require manual intervention by the operator, as it is automatic and therefore safe». Similarly, attention has also been paid to the cleaning and storage of the rollers; the design of the new embosser allows these actions to be carried out off-line, and therefore in complete safety. In order to guarantee the safety of those working on it, «the lamination section of the embosser has been designed so that it can open completely, which gives the technician working on the line a working space of about one metre». Enough room to manoeuvre for all cleaning, maintenance and other operations.
Installations and replacements
Heracle encompasses all the features of all Maflex equipment. Every machine designed by the Italian company is designed to be ready for installation. «All our machines are fully wired, so they don’t require any special electrical connections to the rest of the plant. So much so that when a new machine or module is delivered to a customer, the installation or reassembly of the machine takes only a few days. As a result, commissioning is very quick». Thanks to its modular design, therefore, the new Heracle, which is equipped with its own switchboards and on-board control panels, is also easy to install on existing processing lines.
From Italy to the United States
Founded in 1997 in Lucca, Maflex designs, manufactures, and supplies complete lines for converting tissue rolls. It has two reference markets, consumer and away-from-home (AFH). The company manufactures embossers, tubers, rewinders and unwinders, as well as printing units, accumulators, gluers, and cut-off machines; machines designed for all companies operating in the sector and for which Maflex technicians can also provide diversified design solutions if required. These are technologies designed to meet the needs of companies – paper mills and converters – that must move in an increasingly competitive and global panorama in which even the speed of intervention and the rapid response of the machinery can make the difference. Over the years Maflex has therefore followed the evolution of the market, adapting to its needs and in 2019 has expanded its headquarters, doubling its operational surface area and completely renewing its image.
Maflex America, which was established in 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA, also grew over time. It is a new production facility that serves as both a sales office and service centre for the whole of North America. Specialised technicians at the American site also carry out all operations from machine assembly to upgrades and maintenance of various components.
With a direct local presence, they install and commission machinery, perform machine audits, training and, thanks to on-board camera systems, provide 24-hour production support.
In addition to the after-sales service, which is structured to provide rapid responses and short delivery times, Maflex bases its production on research and development. Therefore, the company has its own R&D department. And in each project, particular attention is paid to two aspects, safety in operation and energy saving.