Two years ago, Universal Converting Equipment developed its X8 slitter rewinder. It was an evolution of previous machines with extensive automation to eliminate operator input, allowing the machine to run continuously virtually.

x8 slitter machine

It was launched to a small number of customers to allow the automation systems to be fully tested. It was introduced to the market at the K2022 exhibition, and we had one on our stand at the ICE 2023 exhibition. We are being told that it is the “Most productive duplex slitting machine in the world”

Universal Converting Equipment looked at all the set-up and running requirements and automated them. In addition, due to the high output of the machines, the Universal X8 can also be integrated with roll handling systems to weigh, label, wrap and palletise the finished rolls.

  • Fast loading system for parent roll
  • Remote control operation
  • Automatic positioning of parent roll
  • Automatic guider sensor positioning
  • Automatic shear and razor knife positioning with individual knife holders
  • Automatic control of shear knife depth with “on the run” adjustment
  • Automatic control of shear knife side load
  • Automatic control of tension through the slitting knives
  • Automatic closed loop rewind tension control
  • Constant geometry contact rollers
  • Automatic cross-cut of slit tails at the end of roll
  • Automatic clamping of slit tails
  • Automatic presentation of slit tails to the new cores
  • Automatic core positioning
  • Automatic adhesion of slit tails to cores
  • Automatic adhesion of roll end to finished roll
  • Automatic roll unloading
  • Automatic roll transfer to conveyor system
  • Automatic roll weighing
  • Automatic roll labelling
  • Automatic verification of roll label
  • Automatic conveying of slit rolls
  • Automatic bagging of slit rolls
  • Automatic robotic palletising of slit rolls
  • Automatic stretch wrapping of finished pallets
  • Dynamic diagnostic systems for in plant and remote access
  • Print repeat length measurement and impression counter

Automation, safety and productivity

This level of automation minimises the set-up but also minimises the time between sets of rolls. The result is the machine is highly productive for both short-run work and long-run work. Alongside productivity, the Universal X8 slitter is a very safe machine to operate. The best way to prevent operator injury is to remove any task that could pose a hazard.

The rewind shafts of a slitting machine are a hazard, with the hazard increasing if a contact (lay-on) roller is in contact with the finished rolls. The safety calculations and safety zones required are the same for a turret rewind slitter as for a duplex slitter.. ISO13855 can be used to calculate the safety zone required.

These calculations are specific to the machine but if a safety laser scanner is used as the safety device to prevent access to the rewind shaft hazard, a machine stopping time of 1s would require a safety zone that extends 3m from the hazard point, which is the rewind shafts, when the machine is running. Even a stopping time of 0.1s requires a 1.5m zone. This prevents access to the machine (turret or duplex) when the machine is running.

Suppose the appropriate risk assessment is in place and additional safety measures, such as limited winding torque, are adopted. In that case, some may allow a running speed up to 15m/min but this has to be a “safe” speed with appropriate safe monitoring. In the case of a turret machine, the required safety zone prevents the operator from touching the non-winding shafts, and rolls/cores on those shafts, whilst the machine is operating. Either rolls are taped down and unloaded automatically and new cores loaded and positioned automatically or the machine needs to be stopped to allow the operator to conduct these operations safely.

Automating the core loading, positioning and unloading, as has been done on the Universal X8, would be needed to allow the machine to start winding whilst the rolls are removed and the cores re-loaded. The rewind shaft automation also prevents repetitive strain injury caused by frequent loading/positioning of cores and unloading of finished rolls. Operator safety must be a priority and if the tasks are automated, the risk is removed. Multiple laser safety scanners and physical guarding ensures there is no access to the machine unless it is in a safe condition.

Does the automation work?
Universal were instrumental in the $8mn automated slitting operation installed last year at Bryce Corporations, Searcy, USA manufacturing operation. This installation included multiple X8 slitting machines, automatic unloading and labelling, automatic roll wrapping and automatic palletising. Since installation, Bryce has achieved record levels of production. In answer to the “does it work” question, Bryce visited us at the K 2022 exhibition and ordered another two X8 machines. They stated that no other companies were prepared to guarantee the performance level being achieved by the Universal X8 slitter rewinders.

Not only is the X8 very productive but it is also very safe as potentially hazardous operations have been removed from the operator.

Find out more about the Universal X8…

Last Updated on September 29, 2023