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Material handling keeps jobs moving

Oct 1, 2003 12:00 AM

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Materials handling isn't just using a pallet jack to move a skid of paper. John Geis and Paul L. Addy, authors of “Material Handling for the Printer” (GATF Press), define it as “providing the correct number of materials in the right condition, sequence and orientation at the correct place and time.”

Properly implemented materials-handling systems can reduce operator fatigue, labor costs, product damage/waste, and production or shipping delays.

Cutting is arguably the bindery's most labor-intensive task, since paper may need to be lifted, jogged, aerated, turned and repeatedly moved. Materials-handling solutions range from simple lifts to the high-end setups, such as Heidelberg's Polar and MAN Roland's Baumann modular systems, which can include cutters with backgauge options, joggers, offloaders and automatic trim removal.

Stacklifts also can make it easier for operators to feed folders. On the delivery end, automated banders can be used to stack and strap small items such as leaflets like Heidelberg's new 600 cph Speedbander.

A selection of new materials-handling products follows. For related information, see “Materials handling: the bindery' best-kept secret,” September 2002, at

Automated jogger/Aerators

Automatän (Plover, WI) offers a variety of jogger/aerators for automatically inverting and aligning sheets, cleaning loads, changing pallets, and combining multitier loads onto one pallet or breaking apart single loads onto multiple skids. All Automatän jogger/aerators are available with ionizing bars that reportedly reduce static. Applications range from lightweight paper stock to corrugated folding cartons.

Four-pallet unloader/racking system

Baumann, distributed in the U.S. by MAN Roland (Westmont, IL), is introducing two new modules for its cutting system: the BAF Moveable Unloader and the 4-Fold-Rack BSR. The BAF is a four-pallet unloader for large-format, high-volume cutting applications. “When you put multiple jobs on a sheet and then want to separate those jobs, this is a way to do it without having to put [the individual jobs] on the side, come back and gather them,” explains Tyrone Adams, MAN's national products manager for finishing systems. “You can unload them on separate skids right after the cutting process.”

The 4-Fold Rack BSR works in conjunction with the unloader. The racking system is used to hold up to four separate jobs until it accumulates complete lifts, which are then unloaded. “It sits just to the left of the cutter, and as you cut out each section [of a press sheet], you put it on this rack and it rotates,” says Adams. “It has four shelves — you put each individual product on a shelf until you get [four complete lifts].”

Baler for smaller operations

The MPAC baler from American Baler (Bellevue, OH) is designed specifically for lower-production operations with air-conveyed trim waste. Because of its overall smaller-than-standard body size, as well as its smaller feed opening of 30 × 27½ inches, the MPAC is said to be ideal for small to midsize printing, paper and boxboard operations with maximum trim waste of two lbs. per cubic ft.

Like the other PAC-series balers, the MPAC features a slick material-tension chamber that self-adjusts to heavily coated materials, to maximize bale density. Dust seals and platen controls are also offered to reduce dust emissions.

Scale and forklift in one

AeroGo's (Seattle) Palletweigher combines two functions in one: The hand-operated forklift gives instant weight readings on the item being lifted, saving operators the extra trip to a central scale to weigh the materials. The Palletweigher has a lowered fork height of 3¼ inches to fit under standard pallets. It has a raised height of 6½ inches.

Indexing/compensating stacker

Gämmerler (Hanover Park, IL) introduces the KL 6000 indexing/compensating stacker, said to deliver precisely aligned bundles from a wide variety of page-count and basis-weight products. The system's upper chamber, driven by a servo motor rather than a pneumatic system and using a patented precollection system, gently lowers copies through the stacker's chamber, virtually eliminating any product drop. The KL 6000 is suited for both commercial and newspaper applications.

Combination stacker/labeler/bundler

CombiStack from Muller Martini (Hauppage, NY) is a combination stacker/labeler/bundler designed for use in newspaper mailrooms. The system stacks, labels and straps what is said to be a high volume of publications coming off a finishing line or press. Having these functions in one unit reportedly eliminates the need for a multimachine tyline and eliminates multiple machine makereadies.

CombiStack can directly interface with a press or binding line, or be fed by a gripper conveyor.

Battery-powered portable lifts

The Backsaver Lite Powered Portable Lifts from Southworth Products (Portland, ME) are available in 550- and 1,100-lb. capacities. Platforms measure 24 × 50 inches or 30 × 50 inches. Units feature a battery-powered motorized drive and dual-wheel steering for easy movement from one location to another. The battery reportedly provides enough power to make multiple trips in a single shift; a charger fully recharges the battery overnight.

Trim/scrap removal system

Precision AirConvey (Newark, DE)has unveiled its new TrimPAC system, which cuts and evacuates edge trim from slitters and diecutters up to 300 ft. at air velocity of 5,500 fpm or faster. The complete system features an inline cutter, material-handling fan, piping, air separator, two inlet pickups and other elements.

Pneumatic pallet-load leveler

With Presto Lifts' (Lewiston, ME) P3 pneumatic leveler, operators can build or break down pallet loads with minimal bending, reaching, stretching or walking. The unit automatically adjusts the height of pallets as boxes are added or removed, via a heavy-duty, reinforced rubber airbag combined with a permanent spring. The P3 can handle pallet load weights from 400 lbs. to 4,500 lbs. and can be used anywhere in the shop where air is available. A large turntable equipped with antifriction bearings allows loads to be easily rotated so operators can always work on the nearside of the pallet. The leveler's extra-wide base eliminates lagging; fork pockets enable the unit to be relocated by a fork truck or stacker.

High-lift pallet truck, in manual or electric

Interthor's (Broadview, IL) Thork-Lift high-lift pallet truck features a lifting capacity of 2,200 lbs. and a lifting height of 311½2 inches. Thork-Lift is available in two configurations to handle open- or closed-bottom pallets or skids. The electric-lift model, powered by a 12-volt battery, reportedly raises a load to the highest position in less than six seconds. The unit includes extended duty cycles, a battery discharge indicator and an automatic battery charger.

The manual-lift model provides two lifting speeds: 17 strokes for light loads, 56 strokes for heavier ones. Standard safety features include an overload relief valve and automatic stabilizers that lock into place when the load is approximately 15 inches high. Standard forks are each 45 inches long.

Transport, accumulate paper stacks

Shuttleworth (Huntington, IN) introduces the Star Roller to achieve what is said to be the flawless transporting and accumulating of cutsheet paper stacks. Star Roller eliminates the shingling or creeping of the bottom-most layers when stacks are transported or accumulated on Slip-Torque conveyors.

Combined with Slip-Torque technology, the system creates a buffer between machines in the cutsheet-paper-handling process. Accumulation reduces total line delays by allowing operable machines to continue production for a cost-effective period of time when other inline machinery is down.

Material-handling news

Colter & Peterson acquires Dexter-Lawson

Colter & Peterson (C&P) (Paramus, NJ) has purchased the paper-cutter and paper-drill assets of Dexter-Lawson Manufacturing, which had closed its doors on June 24. C&P does not intend to continue manufacturing Lawson paper cutters but will continue to provide service and parts support for the equipment. The Lawson paper-cutter parts inventory will be housed in C&P's newly expanded Paterson, NJ, technical facility.

Shelby installs jogger aerator

Shelby Co. (Westlake, OH) has installed a model 105 Thando jogger aerator from American International Machinery (Oak Creek, WI). Shelby reportedly selected the Thando unit for ease of use, the ability to handle paper stacks from 30 inches to 53 inches tall, and the rugged construction. “The ability to stack, turn, jog and align various paper goods is a real plus for avoiding strain and injury for any sheetfed operation,” says Dick Rapacz, president of Shelby.

Woodward sells company

Cyril H.T. Woodward, president and CEO of Woodward Manufacturing Inc. (East Rutherford, NJ), has sold the assets of the firm to Joseph N. Giorgio, who has been general manager for 30 years.

Giorgio has formed a new company, Woodward Jogger Aerators Inc. He retains Woodward Manufacturing's personnel and will operate from the same facilities.

Pile-turning for ergonomic sheet-handling

By Steve Derse, Press Solutions (Milwaukee), North American distributor for Albo System;

As its name implies, a pile turner inverts piles of sheet stock. Because this is a low-tech task, some printers may overlook the equipment's versatility as well as potential time/labor savings and improved operator morale.

Many pile turners include aeration features as well as jogging tables that automatically align stacks. Unlike the crude jogger/aerators developed years ago for folding-carton operations, compact, semiportable pile turners with lightweight-sheet capabilities have evolved in a variety of sheet formats and with various levels of automation. Potential benefits of a pile turner/aeration system include:

  • A 50 to 70 percent reduction in stock-handling labor
  • Increased billable press time, through reduction of feeder trip-offs due to poorly conditioned stock
  • Reduced cumulative-trauma disorder due to awkward repetitive tasks.

How a pile turner works

Here's how a pile turner works. First, the sheet stock is loaded onto a platform. Next, this platform and an identical one above it are lightly clamped together to support the load while it is tilted back onto the table. The pile is positioned horizontally, with the gripper edge of the load on the table and the stack supported on either end by the adjustable platforms. The table is rotated 180 degrees. When the table is tipped back down vertical, the opposite platform is then on the floor, and load has been inverted. Cycle time is 45 seconds maximum.

Typical pile-turning applications include the following:


A pile turner can be used to remove the packaging and wooden shipping skid from an inverted load. The skid is then replaced with a continuous-feed plastic pallet, enabling the user to preload stock without re-piling sheets. The correct amount of stock is ready for the press on a clean pallet, proper side up.

Work and turn

Sheet-handling systems also can be used to quickly turn entire loads for second-side printing or achieving proper orientation for postpress operations. In addition to eliminating re-piling, this allows for either-side-up job planning and reduces the handling risk of turning semidry loads.

Pallet/skid manipulation

Flat goods on an in-house pallet can be turned onto a skid for shipment, eliminating another potential re-pile operation.

Aerating benefits

Pile turners are available with and without aeration (also called winding) systems that blast a controlled flow of air between sheets in the stack. Aeration advantages include the following.

Cleaner stock

Cutting and slitting debris and other foreign matter is blown out from the stack.

Better sheet separation

This enables higher throughput speeds with fewer misfeeds due to doubles and missed sheets.

Easy defective-sheet removal

During aeration, the nozzles can be stopped in the position where questionable virgin sheets are observed, where the load is tagged for misprints or where quality control needs to re-examine pile. Defective sheets can be pulled from any position in the pile, without re-piling the stack.

Re-squaring of poorly stacked pile

Poorly piled stacks or skewed loads can be realigned through simultaneous jogging and aerating of the stack.

Temperature adjustment

Incoming cold stock can be conditioned to run room temperature, reducing downtime. Also, UV heated sheets will fit better after being cooled down by aeration.