Web Handling Training:  Just What the Doctor Ordered

Posted by Pete Sherer on May 18, 2017 2:32:19 PM


It has been a couple weeks gone since we held our last successful training course on Web Handling Fundamentals. I have been tabulating the attendee feedback forms, and the responses from our guests who came to the workshop are very encouraging.  It is clear from the comments provided that most of the students walked away from the completed course with more tools and knowledge with which to perform their respective jobs. But a little more on that in a paragraph or two, first let’s talk a bit about what web handling is, and why its study might be important.

Web handling is a general, sweeping term used to describe how long, thin, flexible materials (like plastic, paper, cardboard, foil, even shingles) behave when processed through a machine that performs value-added converting on that web.  These converting operations are usually things like coating, laminating, assembly, or finishing (cutting the web to a specific size).  The discipline of web handling involves understanding how to control the process of transporting the flexible web through the machine and its operations such that acceptable product, with the requisite functional characteristics, results.

To take this discussion a step further, what therefore governs successful web handling has to do with the science of a number of interrelated variables. These include material characteristics of the flexible web (like modulus of elasticity, coefficient of friction, etc.), the geometry of the web (thickness, flatness, amount of curvature in the machine direction, etc.), and the dynamic properties of the transport machinery itself (speed, roller surface, roller alignment, machine operating tension, etc.). What begins to become apparent is that a production line that utilizes “web handling” to produce a product on a flexible, continuous web is a complex system involving many variables and interactions.

It logically follows that a production line involving web handling is also prone to unique problems, that present their own challenges when it comes to understanding and mastering them. If you are someone who works on or around a roll-to-roll production line, and you are faced with wrinkled product, or scratches in your coating, or wound rolls that are difficult to handle and shift when you move them, how do you know what to adjust in your operation to mitigate these problems?  Where do you go to find an explanation as to what science governs your product/machine behavior, so that you can understand the root cause of your issues, and trust that your corrective action is going to be effective and permanent?

Well, here is where I come back to the student comments on the feedback forms from our completed “Fundamentals of Web Handling” course.  These people can tell you quite clearly that this course was of significant benefit in building this very understanding.  Let me share some of the written comments:

Which course materials were most useful to you?
  • “Tension control”
  • “Rules of Idler web tracking. Some wrinkles have appeared in the past for no reason. This section opened up more theories on how these wrinkles started.”
  • “Winding Section”
  • “Wrinkles - Types and sources. Knowledge is applicable to all [of our] sites”
  • “The lab. Adding and removing wrinkles from rolls”
  • “Rollers and alignment. Our machines have obvious misalignment and this will be good info to bring back on how to [correct].  Also, spreader rollers.”
  • “Roller slip, alignment, specifications”
  • “Wrinkling and roller alignments as it pertains to our plant”

The overall satisfaction rate for this course was 77% favorable, with 14 out of 15 attendees stating that they would recommend the course to others seeking web handling knowledge.  Here’s another significant data point:  The estimated improvement in web handling skills because of the course was scored at 62%.

At Optimation, we are committed to assisting our clients improve their operations through the application of our knowledge and experience.  This commitment is most visible in our Media Conveyance Facility mission, where we perform consulting, development on our pilot machines, travel to client sites for machine assessments, and offer training to disseminate the knowledge we have acquired over many years of studying flexible webs. This knowledge provides a way for us to communicate with our clients about how we ultimately investigate, understand and then solve roll-to-roll web handling issues. But, lest you think this is simply a statement from the sales guy, consider all this user feedback.

When the doctor tells you what is wrong, and how to get healthy, you should listen.  And the road to web handling robustness starts with understanding the fundamentals … so come get your training.


Topics: web handling, training

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The goal of this blog is to be helpful to readers by providing useful information about applications in industrial engineering, design and skilled trades, as well as industry knowledge. We're passionate about manufacturing in the United States. We have a little fun with it too.  

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