A cutting line to handle the demands of high-volume production of straightforward jobs.

What does the system do?
Pace is an acronym for ‘Polar automation (for) cutting efficiency’, and that’s pretty much what it does. It goes a stage further than flowline cutters – which add lifts and joggers around a guillotine to minimise manual handling of the reams – by automating some elements of the cutting process itself.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
Pace is not new; it has been available for over a decade but has become more relevant recently due to changes in the industry make-up, according to Heidelberg, which markets the machines in the UK.
“The target is big industrial printers, which is not a massive market,” says Heidelberg UK post-press product manager Paul Thompson. “You have to be able to justify it, but with market consolidation, bigger contracts and XL presses delivering 18,000 sheets per hour, the bottleneck now is in cutting.”

Table width: 1,370mm
Max ream height: 140mm
Min ream height: 30mm
Number of automated cuts: 5

How does it work?
At the heart of the Pace 200 are a set of automated grippers and turners – the Autoturn – which operate on the rear table of a Polar Autotrim guillotine. The Autoturn can rotate the ream being cut by 90˚ or 180˚ to either the left or the right and an automatic gauge is used to position it. It is this automatic handling that enables the machine to cut automatically. The operator needs to instigate the first cut (once it has been positioned automatically) to ensure the position is correct. After that the machine can make up to five cuts without operator intervention. Further cuts can be carried out manually. After cutting a Transomat unit transfers the cut reams onto a pallet for further processing.

How does it differ from previous products?
Compared to a flowline cutter, which improves productivity by minimising manual lifting and positioning of the paper, the Pace 200 goes further by automating the actual cutting.

How productive is it?
According to Thompson one Pace can, depending on material and job complexity, process around 45,000 sheets per hour, representing roughly a 60%-70% increase in throughput over a manual cutting line. One Pace line could replace two manual cutting lines and move from two operators per line to a single operator.

What is the USP of the product?
The USP is the level of automation of simple cutting procedures – up to five cuts per job – along with materials handling.
“If it gets to the point where you are doing more manual cuts you start to lose the advantages,” says Thompson. “You’ve got to have the volumes, and its strength is to keep the knife cutting.”
One type of work it isn’t suited for is complex composite/ganged jobs produced by web-to-print specialists both due to the number and complexity of the cuts and the relatively large minimum size item the gripper can handle.

How easy is it to use?
Operation itself is simple but it does take a change of mindset and working practice for the operator, including more reliance on the Compucut software driving the machine. It can also reduce the manning needed by removing an assistant loading and jogging.
“It takes a change of attitude,” says Thompson. “The operator is now in charge of the overall process not just the cutter.”

How much does it cost?
Pricing for the B1-sized line, which includes stack lift, automatic jogger, Autotrans and Autoturn, the core N 137 AT cutter and Transomat unloader is £360,000. Larger versions are also available based on the larger N 155 AT and N 176 AT cutters.

BaumannWohlenberg System Sigma
Like the Pace, the Sigma combines materials handling components around a guillotine to enable automated handling. In the Sigma’s case the components for a B1 system are the Basa automatic jogger, BFS gripper transport system, Wohlenberg 132 ASE guillotine and BA 3 unloader. Larger versions are available to handle to sheet sizes of up to 1,510x2,050mm.