The Benefits of Air Casters in Paper Mills

Paper Mills

When it comes to paper manufacturers and converters, nothing is more important than ensuring safe load movement. Daily paper production and processing requires safe, and very precise, movement of multi-ton paper, tissue, diaper, and corrugated rolls—some of which are 12,000 pounds before they’re converted into smaller rolls. Because of their size, weight, and wide variety of shapes, these rolls need to be moved safely and with absolute precision from converters and other machines. 
That’s where an air caster comes in. An air caster rigging system is capable of transporting these giant rolls of paper products by literally floating them from one point to the next. Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? First, the massive rolls are loaded onto a pallet. Standard factory-available compressed air then creates a cushion underneath, that lifts the entire load. The roll floats on this thin layer of air, while its movement is easily controlled by an operator. There’s no risk of impact damage, vibration, or friction of any kind. 

Handling the Roll

With the exception of its legs, which are at 45-degree angles to slide under the paper roll, air bearing-based equipment functions similar to a forklift pallet. The air casters lift the pallet when the compressed air is turned on, and then the casters can move any size roll via frictionless movement. This makes it possible for a single worker to move the roll in any direction for very precise positioning. 
Each facility has specialized requirements for load moving equipment—the good news? Air caster systems have been developed in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate a wide variety of requirements. For example, there’s an air caster mover composed of two independent pieces connected by a single small air hose. With two separate components, both interacting with the paper roll at either end, this air caster can accommodate a variety of roll widths and heights up to 8,000 pounds using relatively compact equipment. 
Essentially, your facility has the options it needs. You can choose from a wide selection of air bearing equipment, for a wide range of roll widths to meet your facility’s operational requirements. 

Protecting the Tissue

Tissue paper rolls, for example, are very delicate. Sometimes you might need to take some special steps to protect the load you’re moving where it meets the compressed air. Most facilities will use a protective layer (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, to be exact) to act as a buffer to protect their load. 
Another great benefit of using an air bearing system, is that it makes things much easier even after the roll has been moved. The paper rolls being handled can spin as much as thousands of rotations per minute, so precision and balance are extremely important. The slightest friction or vibration can place equipment, and workers, at risk for injury. By creating a frictionless environment, and therefore a frictionless process, operators can line up their load perfectly. The machine can then pick it up from the pallet and start to unwind it, alleviating the risks typically involved. 

Making Things Safer

Before the advancement of technology in this area, rolls were loaded and moved by workers only—and what that meant was ongoing safety concerns and severe inefficiency. Only particular workers who were physically able could successfully move the loads, and even still they couldn’t always do it safely. Back injuries were far more common than they ever should be.
 An air-based movine system, however, can greatly reduce the risk of injuries of all kinds. Almost any team member could move a load, and most likely by themselves. Even moving a 12,000-pound roll in a precise direction would require minimal effort, thanks to the compressed air doing the heavy lifting. These kinds of systems reduce labor, reduce the risk of injury, minimize errors, and streamline the process
Interested in learning more about how to streamline your facility’s processes? Contact ProcessBarron today.