Motor Control Solution for a Printing Plant


Established more than 100 years ago, Banta Corp. has grown to become one of the 10 largest printing companies in North America. Serving publishers of education and general books, special interest magazines and consumer and business catalogs, the company provides customers with a complete range of printing and digital imaging solutions to leading publishers and direct marketers.

In recent years, the digital revolution has had a profound effect on Banta and the printing industry overall. Computer-to-plate (CTP) technology now allows publishers to eliminate one of the most time-consuming steps in the printing process—plate film production. To provide customers with the fastest and most cost-effective solutions available, Banta has invested in new scanning and image processing equipment, while also increasing its digital storage capabilities.

Simultaneous to providing quality print services, Banta must also ensure that its largest capital investment—a lithographic offset printing press—operates productively. Printing presses have a life cycle of up to 20 years, and many are remanufactured in-house to keep up with technological innovations and process improvements. The power control equipment that supports the presses—contactors, starters, motor control centers and disconnect switches—must be reliable and easily accommodate field modifications and upgrades. Additionally, the DC drives and programmable controllers must be capable of supporting line shaft applications and reduce stress on mechanical equipment to increase the life of the press.

Banta discovered that some of the component-level control devices installed on its newer, foreign-made presses did not provide the flexibility needed to upgrade the presses as technology continues to evolve. Attempts to modify the control system to increase productivity resulted in system errors and excessive downtime. And Banta’s maintenance engineers had difficulty getting replacement parts and service for foreign components. Even routine maintenance became a time-consuming and costly process.

As a result, the company sought to develop a comprehensive power control solution. Banta’s engineering and maintenance superintendent, Gary M. Simo, worked with Werner Electric and Press Control Services, a Houston-based web offset integration specialist.

To decrease installation costs and increase uptime, Banta implemented “on-machine” solutions whenever practical, from the press room through the bindery. NEMA components, including push button stations, contactors, disconnect switches and starters applied both on the machine and within control panels were integral to the Banta solution. Deploying industrial controls and hardware directly on a machine, rather than in centralized cabinets, helped significantly reduce installation time and associated costs up to 30 percent compared with conventional methods.

When the press needed to be remanufactured in-house, the upgrade was streamlined by integrated panel solutions housed in custom control cabinets. In the facility’s chiller plant, motor control centers fitted with 500 NEMA starters also helped accommodate upgrades and react to changing electrical and mechanical requirements.

Banta selected an electronic line shaft solution for its ability to provide precise web tension control. Controller and high-powered DC drives replaced the gears, clutches, belts and pulleys associated with mechanical systems. Using a control panel, press operators electronically set web tension with precision not possible with a mechanical system.

As a result, Banta has significantly decreased the make-ready and changeover time on its presses. Smooth, precise motor control has reduced equipment wear and tear, and the advanced diagnostics the system provides have enhanced overall system reliability and decreased maintenance. Additionally, readily available NEMA products, combined with local service, have simplified maintenance and upgrades on the foreign-built presses.

“In the deadline-driven print industry, where continuous operation is essential, it’s critical to find a supplier who can provide a quality solution with local support,” Simo said. Overall, Banta says that its uptime has increased nearly 3%

For more about applications from Allen-Bradley installed at Banta, click here .

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