Hunkeler waste systems: Intelligent, automated and energy saving

Towards zero landfill

Waste being churned out of a machine. Photo IPP

The new paradigm emerging in Indian cities is ‘zero landfill,’ where communities, neighborhoods, even entire cities, have begun the process of sorting, collection, and further sorting and processing of solid waste to prevent the indiscriminate use of landfills. The Centre for Science and Environment, which is spearheading this activity on a national scale, also recognizes that printed and packaging waste represents an important part of solid waste and perhaps a majority of what needs to be sorted, collected and processed. This activity, which usually happens in the post-consumer part of the supply chain—generally after products are purchased, opened, used and consumed—is naturally a difficult and fragmented one. It calls for considerable energy, skills, manual labor and cost.

While the printing and packaging industry has thus far escaped stringent legal regulations on waste generation and recycling processes, they are bound to come under scrutiny soon. Also, the increased requirement for secure, hygienic and efficient production of documents and packaging are bringing more automated and in-line processes onto the shop floor. To some extent, both the commercial and packaging industries are learning from the experience of high-volume digital printers (and narrow web label printers) who churn out millions of bank statements, direct mail and labels. They are learning that the entire process needs to have continuous feeding, printing, perforating, finishing, binding, marking and even in-line inserting and addressing with a series of stations. It may even need discreet pieces of equipment that can intelligently read each document, collate it and perform the next finish steps according to its unique requirement.

On offset presses, sheet-wide scanners and cameras are being mounted to check quality and match the small type used for regulatory compliance information on pharma cartons. The presses reject the bad sheets, which are then automatically either tabbed or put in a rejection tray. The question is what happens to these sheets! Just as what happens to the trim waste in an online digital book production system, or even in an offline binding system that handles offset printed documents or books!

Reading and recognizing waste intelligently

Waste is the new gold, and print and packaging industries require industrial solutions for waste as opposed to the piecemeal sale of waste to the raddiwalas. What’s required is for the production line to be safe and healthy, which means removal of dust including papercutting dust from the print, finishing and binding space. Secondly, the waste has to be secure—our customers are not happy about damaged or make-ready sheets scattered everywhere and entering the informal waste collection stream. In plain words, most print is security print either because it is someone’s intellectual property or because it is a legal or financial document (such as bank statement or a banknote), or because it is meant as a container (in the case of label, attached to a container) for a genuine product that can be tracked, traced and also counterfeited. Thirdly, the waste has to be efficiently collected, sorted and recycled, or destroyed as energy. 

Waste is gold for our industry because we are not collecting it in a random manner across the city. For us, the area of play is our factory and our own process systems. The more we intelligently handle waste, the more we can keep the plant clean, securely get rid of waste at the optimum price with the optimum security for our customers, and the minimum liability for ourselves. Printing and packaging factories are crying out for intelligent waste systems that rely on CCDs, software and automated low energy consuming equipment that can sort the waste and shred it, or turn it into bales of material for recycling, or high-density bricks in the case of materials that can then be burned for energy.

At drupa 2016, as I have written earlier in our review of the event, Hunkeler waste systems showed automated waste handling systems in several live demonstrations in conjunction with partner stands as well as its own stand that was adjacent to the Muller Martini stand. While Muller Martini demonstrated its intelligent variable perfect binding systems that can consecutively collate and bind books of varying thickness or pages and size, Hunkeler demonstrated that it could intelligently vary the negative pressure to evacuate waste strips, cuttings and paper dust of different sizes and weight. The ability to read or recognize waste means that less vacuum is needed for smaller or lighter waste, thereby saving on energy. Hunkeler claims as much as 40% energy can be saved by an intelligent waste collection system, which is only active when there is waste to be collected. 

The economics of waste reduction and evacuation begins at the collection point, which is the production machine. In packaging, to ensure total product safety, the shredding of the full-size packaging sheet with misprints or quality issues is key. Of course customized solutions are needed to be integrated in the logical chain of the entire production process. 

At the Leonhard Kurz stand at drupa, Hunkeler Systeme presented its new HKU 2000-V compact disposal system with a special continuous compression feature that can run without a stop during the entire production process. An endless plastic bag is sealed and separated into economical transport sizes and this method leads to a completely clean changeover and disposal for substrates including labels, holograms and paper.

The intelligent waste gathering, baling and disposal packaging systems are particularly useful for the production and secure waste disposal of security documents and bank notes. For bank notes, a newly designed shredding system with a knife lifetime that has been increased four times over existing models has been developed. In addition, for the secure supervision and reporting of the full destroying process, the Hunkeler waste disposal systems use fingerprint log-in identification; the workflow management system compares total material inputs and outflow, and the software flags all error and status messages.

I remember a visit to Navneet Prakashan’s brand new book production plant in Dhantali in Gujarat more than 20 years ago. The plant contained high-quality web offset presses and high-speed book binding lines fitted with a vacuumbased trim evacuation system and a baling machine. It was evident then that a high-quality production system handles waste efficiently by reading and measuring it. As brand owners in India look for increased security and best practices from their suppliers, it makes sense for print and packaging companies to pay more attention to waste, especially as they invest in more automated equipment and inline processes. 

Of course these solutions need to be quite flexible and thought out – they will require some measuring and on-site consulting but then what doesn’t nowadays? A good place to start could be the Hunkeler Innovationdays in Lucerne from 20 to 23 February 2017. I am looking forward to attending this event again because it not only offers a complete insight to digital print systems but also in automation right from from variable data, to in-line processing and now increasingly to sorting and securely getting rid of both sensitive and gross waste.

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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