Web Handling - In Over Your Head?

Posted by Pete Sherer on Mar 14, 2017 10:46:08 AM


Each year we that we offer web handling training to our clients, we hear their stories of why they decided to take the class, and later, how they applied what they learned in their plant after they left. Pete Sherer writes up a fictional story, based on our own customers and their feedback:

So, here’s my story, not that unique, but all too true, about how my boss gave me some added responsibility in our plant (which I had asked for, by the way), and the challenges that came with my new role.

I grew up in our plastic label stock extrusion operation. Started out on the tools, but over the years my good mechanical aptitude and troubleshooting skills got me promoted from mechanic to technician.  For the past several years, been working with the product development engineering jocks, helping with machine support (tooling changes, machine set up, that kinda stuff) as they test out some new ideas.  We got a couple of real eggheads on staff, but they know their stuff, and occasionally they come up with some cool product improvements.

Anyway, my boss says our department has been under some cost pressure, mainly because the company views us as overhead. Last month, one of our process engineers (a young guy, ambitious, with fire in his belly…you know the type) left us for a healthy promotion downstate.  Well, rather than replace Luke (the young gun), he decided to divide up Luke’s job tasks among the remaining guys and one very sharp young lady, lest I forget).  As a result, he has asked me to take process responsibility for Line R-2, one of our rewinders.

Needless to say, I was thrilled, but hey, I haven’t had any formal training on what makes a rewinder tick. Sure, I can change a motor or an air cylinder, or service a bearing in a roller, no problem.  But knowing what to do when the machine starts acting up, winding rolls with defects, I was a little intimidated with these process problems. How was I supposed to know where to look, and what machine changes to recommend, to eliminate some of the quality issues we occasionally suffer?  If I am to succeed in this new role (and  I intend to), I realized that I needed to get a grasp of the machine operating fundamentals, and right quick, too.

Then I get this bright idea, and when I ran it by my boss, he liked it.  I told him I would like to get some training in film handling science and principles, so I would know what was making R-2 behave the ways that it does when we have problems and get defects in our label stock rolls.  He said, if I found a course that offered curriculum that dealt in topics that would apply to my new machine responsibilities, he would authorize my attendance (how cool is that!).

So, I come charging out of his office and go right to my computer to do an Internet search on web handling training. And I gotta tell you, the site that popped up that seemed the most interesting was entitled “Web Handling Fundamentals” being offered by a company called Optimation.  The course description seemed like it was written just for a guy like me trying to master not just the mechanics, but the principles of our rewinding process.  The course was going to teach about wound roll quality, tension control, and roller alignment…all things that I was curious about, and wanted to understand how they affected the way our film is transported and wound into rolls.  Not only that, the syllabus also described how the training time was going to be split between classroom training and hands on machine demonstrations.  Perfect for me, I’m a hands-on kinda guy.  And frankly, I didn’t see any other training opportunities that offer this powerful blend of the theory and the reality.

Well, I can tell you, the week after I got home from taking the class and was back on our production floor, Jim (the head operator on R-2) took me to the winder end of the machine just downstream of our inspection table, where he pointed out that we were getting some wrinkles going into the nip of the lay on roller at the product roll on the winder spindle. He noted that occasionally the wrinkles can become creases, which is a cause for rejecting the subject roll. Thanks to my Optimation training, I knew just where to start with troubleshooting this problem. Thank you, Dr. Cole, for throwing me a lifeline with your good training course…I am no longer in over my head.

Topics: Mechanical and Process Services, web handling, training

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