The packaging industry, just like any other industry, is searching for methods and means to increase productivity while at the same time reducing costs. Packaging printers and commercial printers are both bound by high board and paper prices. Very often the cost of the substrate can make the difference as to whether a contract is won or lost.

There is one way that packaging and commercial printers can reduced their substrate bill – simply order reels instead of sheets. The problem, however, is that they then have to find a way to handle the reels. Installing a sheeter on every press is not really an option as they come at a high price. An alternative is to consider an offline sheeter. Not only does this do away with the need of individual sheeters per press, it also gives complete flexibility in terms of the sheet size.

Buying reels of paper or board benefits the buyer because it is cheaper to buy reels than to buy sheets. It is also cheaper and less space consuming to store reels than it is to store sheets.

Reels can also be delivered faster than sheets. Reels can be stored many levels high, whereas sheets have a limited storage height unless expensive racking and shelving systems are employed. Alliance Machinery is pleased to announce that it is launching a new stand-alone sheeter from BW Papersystems for the packaging and commercial print markets. The eCon Sheeter is the latest addition to the range of sheeters from this international manufacturer which has more than 500 sheeters installed around the world. Advanced engineering processes and a highly standardised configuration allow BW Papersystems to manufacture a low-cost machine which is able to produce the highest sheet quality available.

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Said Bradley Bate, managing director of Alliance Machinery, ‘We are very excited about this new sheeter because it will offer local printers in both packaging and commercial print market the ability to increase their profitability and productivity through the use of paper and board reels. They will be able to take advantage of lower substrate costs which will allow them to increase their margins or pass on savings to their customers.’

The benefit of an offline sheeter over a dedicated press-bound sheeter is that it can handle a wider range of substrates. Presses are limited in the range of substrate thicknesses that they can handle. Although they can handle a spread of grammages, that spread is limited to a specific weight range. The eCon Sheeter can handle a wide spread of substrates weights ranging from 30gsm paper right up to board of 1000gsm, as well as plastic and carbonless paper. The other benefit is that it can handle a broad spectrum of reel widths from 400mm right up to 1650mm without overlapping. The sheeter can be fitted with two slitting positions as standard or up to four as an option for converting larger reels into easy to handle sheet sizes.

The eCon Sheeter features sensors which detect sheet quality and damaged or incorrectly cut sheets. Damaged sheets are discharged to a damaged sheet bin under the machine. In addition, the sensors on the sheeter also pick up splices in the paper reel and automatically discharge the sheets with splices ensuring that none of the sheets make it into the pile and thereby avoiding damage to the press or downstream processes.

Bate commented, ‘This machine is ideally suited to the Southern African market because it offers a rigid design with outstanding build quality,  market-leading quality and a price point which offers customers in this region an affordable solution.’

Ferderic Duquenne of BW Papersystems added, ‘More and more printers and packaging converters are considering sheeters to be a key element in their efforts to achieve higher levels of productivity. In-house sheeting provides improved flexibility, greater productivity and generally better quality.

‘Our sheeters ensure dust-free production which makes for cleaner operation on the press and the sheet piles which are generated are ready to go directly to the press. There is no need to handle the sheets in order to set correct pile formation prior to printing. Sheets can also be centralised on the pallet to avoid the need for pile turning. This further enhances productivity and reduces delays in meeting the demands of customers with tight deadlines.’

An important element of any new equipment is the back-up and technical support. This is especially relevant in a market like South Africa where distances from the point of manufacture make fast turnaround times almost impossible without local support. Alliance Machinery will offer local customers full after-sales support and technical back-up. It has six trained field service engineers available to assist customers. In addition, machines can be directly connected to the central diagnostics system for remote diagnostics.

For high-volume printers and packaging converters, the eCon Sheeter offers the ability to take advantage of lower costs, while achieving higher productivity and reduced downtime.

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