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Under the Hood

Hunkeler Generation 8 (Gen8)

After its initial unveiling to much applause at Hunkeler Innovationdays, Brian Sims reviews the Generation 8 series from the family-centric Swiss manufacturer

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The Generation 8 Series from Hunkeler

Introducing the next generation

Those of you that have read any of the Tech Buzz or Under the Hood articles will be aware of my background as an engineer and when reviewing equipment, I focus my attention on small details. As the saying goes ‘the devil is in the detail’ and this is true when you look at getting more from a design or piece of equipment.

I have written before about manufacturers ignoring the detail and adding process after process together in the hope there will be an increase in efficiency. Quite often the key detail is over looked and it is not always true that combining these processes actually brings about a net increase in production.

However, if you can look into the combined processes and apply techniques such as Kaizen or Deming’s cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) you can seek out the detail that will allow the combined processes to deliver the increase in overall production sought and requested.

Clearly the design team at Hunkeler have spent time looking into the key areas where the details lie, as the new Gen8 machine being reviewed can deliver not only quality but the eye-opening number of combinations possible from stock, make successfully combining processes very effective.

The Gen8 can accomplish a large number of operations, and depending on how you choose to combine them, you can take either a virgin roll of paper or a pre-printed reel and end up with a complex finished product.

The Gen8 can accomplish a large number of operations, depending on how you choose to combine them

As mentioned before, the list of options is quite extensive and includes unwind, print, longitudinal and cross cutting, merging, perforating units, punching stations, separators and stackers. Added to this the online inspection system and workflow management means all of the features wrapped together makes for a very impressive piece of mailing equipment.

So, what about the detail and what does it all mean?

First of all the Gen8 has the ability to process substrates up to 180m/min and at this speed the equipment has the scope to encompass production quantum for some time to come so the equipment is future proofed in this aspect.

Minimum web widths for the machinery vary depending on what combination you pick, but it is as low as 203mm and up to 571mm for all combinations of choice. As for paper weights, the lowest the Gen8 will operate with is 40 gsm but for the Roll to Stack option with inkjet printer can handle paper weights as high as 300gsm.

The Roll Splice RS8, along with the whole Gen8 series was recently unveiled at Hunkeler Innovationdays

So, let’s see if we can lift the covers on the mass of various options you can configure to make up the tailor made Gen8 system to suit your market.

Most configurations will start with the UW6 Unwinder unit, which can be used to hold either feed pre-printed or unprinted material across the stock sizes and weight previously described. This unit controls the web tension and position as it enters into the machine, either into an inkjet printer or dynamic perforator/punch. Should a printer be installed in line, then Hunkeler suggest the use of a web buffer (WB8) which has a dancer roller system in it to ensure the web, once printed, is correctly synchronised with the any of the cutting devices.

The punch or perforator module you can include as either a standalone unit or post print and is called the DP8. This unit will perforate the sheet where required or can punch out a number of shapes if needed into the web. This process is completed either longitudinally or laterally to suit whatever format is needed.

On most mailing solutions, the next module is likely to be the web folder, the WF8 or the web merger, the WM8. Both options manipulate the web to both slit and merge it into two or more smaller ribbons or to fold it prior to further processing.

That further processing normally takes the form of sending the pre-folded and punched web or ribbons through a cutting module called the CS8. The CS8 cuts the web into a number of different sections, both across the web and along the main axis of the material. There are even options on the options; the CS8 can be the CS8-l with cross and linear cutting, CS8-ll cross, chip out and linear cutting and finally CS8-IP being perforating and cross cutting.

Regardless of which model of CS8 you select, each unit produces the previously intact web into smaller numbers of sections that are either separated in the offset separator (SE8) and onto a stacker (LS8) or directly into a buckle folder.

All of this modular equipment is only going to be as good as the amount of control you can exert on it. There are a number of options that can be added to the machine that can assist.

One of the most popular and effective quality control systems is the integrated web inspection systems, known as the WI8 by Hunkeler. The WI8 uses what they call a Compact Image Sensor (CIS) system to monitor the web for quality. It is able to check colour, register, variable data and coding on the fly to ensure that each of the bespoke pieces of direct mailing are completed correctly.

Other systems such as auto register, Dyna-Cut function which can change the cut off on the run to suit variable date output and Tracking systems to keep the web running accurately through the press are available.

Obviously it goes without saying Hunkeler has built a simple to use workflow system to ensure all the modules, in what can end up being an extremely long machine, function accurately and productively; it is known as Work Flow Manager (HWM).

Hunkeler's Workflow Manager

Workflow Manager allows easy setup, operation and production management of the Gen8. To ensure the continued smooth and productive operation HWM is connected directly to Hunkeler such that data can be shared seamlessly keeping your Gen8 working to the maximum output possible.

Hunkeler has certainly focused on detail – the outcome of that investment is a grouped number of processes all capable of working seamlessly together maximising production

Hunkeler has certainly focused on detail – the outcome of that investment is a grouped number of processes all capable of working seamlessly together maximising production.

Brian Sims principal consultant, Metis Print Consultancy, www.metis-uk.eu

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