When cutting problems occur on horizontal flow wrappers during a production run, what are the best procedures to get packaging lines up and running again and to keep them running? Minimizing downtime, producing consistent quality packages, and managing costs require a balanced approach that includes:
Knowing which “quick-fix” adjustments will get knives cutting without causing additional problems and downtime. (Faster and easier is not always the best solution.)
Broad-based, P3 Solutions that consider the entire packaging process to:
• Understand how each adjustment affects the whole system. • Eliminate procedures that don’t work. • Diagnose and correct the ultimate causes of problems. (Many issues stem from a combination of factors.) • Implement solutions that help prevent cutting problems from occurring in the first place and help you Pursue Zero.
When Knives and Anvils Stop Cutting:
The following procedures can help to get knives cutting again or, if knives and anvils need to be replaced, to refine the installation process. In either case, these guidelines will reduce downtime and optimize long-term performance. Read more
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the design of crimpers and sealing jaws on horizontal flow wrappers and vertical baggers; they should be specified according to the packaging film, products, and conditions of your packaging operation.
This post, the last in our four-part series, reviews design options for crimpers and jaws. The optimal combination of serration patterns, materials, and special features can dramatically improve seal quality and productivity when sealing across extra film layers at the end seal.
Transitions on the end seal between varying thicknesses of film created by the fin seal, lap seal, gussets, and wrinkles make it more difficult to maintain the operating window necessary for quality seals:
Too little pressure leaves gaps, or leakers, at these transition zones.
Excess pressure can easily crush or split the end seal.
Overheating distorts the seal and can cause poor hot tack, where the film springs back open at transition zones or “moons,” before the seal can set.
The end results can be packages that fail to protect the product or have little appeal to consumers, as well as lost production time spent attempting to meet package quality standards.
Optimizing Set-Up and Adjustment of Crimpers, Sealing Jaws, and Knives
The first two parts of this series explored the potential problems created by end seal wrinkles and creases and ways to eliminate or reduce them on horizontal flow wrappers (Part 1) and vertical baggers (Part 2). In some situations wrinkles or creases are unavoidable, and, even without those issues, most packages have the inevitable transition between multiple film layers created by either a fin or a lap seal. This can make it more difficult to achieve quality seals, and attempts to do so can lead to additional issues:
•Overheating distorts the seal and can cause poor hot tack, where the film springs back open, or “moons,” before the seal can set.
The operating window for creating quality seals can be elusive, resulting in packages that leak or are distorted and either fail to protect the product or have little appeal to consumers.
This post reviews some of the detailed solutions in Greener Corporation’s Knowledge Center that will help you seal over extra layers of film at the end seal by refining the set-up and adjustment of crimpers, sealing jaws, and knives.
Refining and Eliminating Wrinkles and Creases on Horizontal Flow Wrappers
Varying thicknesses of film at the end seal can cause sealing problems, especially at the transition point between two and four layers created by the fin seal, gussets, wrinkles and creases, as well at the corners. Applications of pressure and heat (if applicable) must be great enough to cause the sealant layer to flow into and seal off these voids. Excess pressure can easily crush or split the end seal, while overheating distorts the seal and can cause poor hot tack, where the film springs back open, or “moons,” before the seal can set.
The operating window for creating quality seals can be elusive, resulting in packages that leak, are distorted, and have little appeal to consumers.
An important step in troubleshooting these issues is to eliminate unintended wrinkles and creases. This post, the first in a four-part series, will examine this process on horizontal flow wrappers; Part 2 considers these issues on vertical baggers.
Set-up procedures for knives and anvils can vary according to the make and model of the packaging machine, knife adjustment style, and other factors. There are, however, some general principles that make these adjustments more effective and efficient, reducing downtime and parts costs.
♦ Optimize Knife Design
Knives ground on a diagonal, or bias–whether they have a zig zag or a straight cutting edge–require less pressure to cut so they are easier to set up and typically last longer.
Zig zag knives with smaller (more) teeth are also easier to set up and provide longer life.
For heat seal applications, each packaging film structure has a Seal Initiation Temperature (SIT), at which the sealant layer is heated enough to flow into and seal off gaps in the end seal and provide a minimally acceptable seal, and a Maximum Temperature, beyond which the film distorts, fractures, or has inadequate hot tack (seal strength and integrity while the seal is still warm). The temperature range between the minimum and maximum is the film’s Operating Window.
For a number of reasons, regulating heat is not as straightforward as simply adjusting the temperature setting within the operating window for the film you are running.
♦ The sealing face of crimpers and sealing jaws is often hotter in the middle than at the ends, where heat dissipates more quickly. These inconsistencies are readily apparent in the thermal profile shown below:
The corporate engineering department at a large, international company commenced a project to reduce material costs for a variety of products that are individually packaged on horizontal flow wrappers. Greener Corporation was invited to participate in a series of meetings that defined the project’s initial goals:
To reduce the cut-off length for each package by reducing the overall seal width, thus allowing the product envelope to remain unchanged.
To achieve material savings without degrading seal integrity or productivity levels.
To achieve a project payback period of twelve months or less.
Greener’s latest “Tech Bites” video explains how proper clearance and pressure adjustments optimize horizontal flow wrapper performance.
Clearance and pressure settings on horizontal flow wrappers are critical for achieving quality packages, minimizing downtime, and controlling costs. We’ve noticed that the differences between clearance and pressure, and the proper occasions to adjust each of them, are not always clear to those making these adjustments. Greener’s latest “Tech Bites” video and blog post differentiate the function and adjustment of clearance and pressure. Read more
Greener Corporation has published a series of white papers devised to help optimize package quality and productivity on horizontal and vertical form fill seal packaging lines. In addition to helping you solve problems, these technical articles provide foundational information you can use to implement proactive improvements—an approach that helps deter problems from occurring in the first place.
The first video in Greener Corporation’s “Tech Bites” series explains how adjusting backlash on horizontal flow wrappers helps prevent problems such as fractured end seals and premature failure of knives and anvils.