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Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Lesson of the Strapper

Wanted to post this last week, but I ended up not blogging at all while we were so busy at work.

This is the strapper. It flings plastic strap around bundles of newspapers, pulls it tight and heat seals it. This picture is taken from where I stand when I do my usual task. As I work, the bundles come from my left on the conveyor- the one with the rollers. Then they are picked up by the solid belt on the strapper. An electric eye notes their presence, stops the belt, straps the bundle, starts the belt and sends it on to the ramp beyond. That narrow "garage door" can be opened and the roller belt lowered to send them outside to waiting drivers, or a helper can pull them off and place them in tubs. It depends on which publication we are doing.

newspaper strapper

However, if the strapper is not working properly, it's a total pain. Such was the case at the beginning of last week. Last week of the largest paper of the year week. I did everything I knew how to do on the ornery machine. Here are it's innards.

newspaper strapper

Several other people also tried things. It seemed to be not "reading" that a bundle was there and needed to be strapped. The papers would just roll through, and when loose papers start up the ramp, it's a mess. The temporary solution is that the strapper person catches each bundle and manually pushes the button to make it strap. Not a good option when things are busy.

So, Terrie, the manager, set about to try to fix the balky beast. She took it apart even farther than the picture above. I should have gotten another photo, but I forgot since I was mostly holding the flashlight.

Anyway, the problem was not the electric eye. The problem was not the mechanics or electronics of the strapping mechanism. The problem was that the belt which drives the conveyor belt was loose. Not an intuitive solution. The adjustment bolt was awkward to get to, but after tightening, the whole thing worked properly. (Well, until this past Friday night when it broke down again and now has a new problem for Terrie to take on... it won't feed the strap through correctly.)

Because the belt was loose, when a heavy bundle of papers went through it slipped and threw the timing of the strap off.

The moral of my story is... don't be quick to assume the cause of a problem or of someone's behavior is an obvious reason. There could be lots of unseen things going on that we can't see, and that don't seem related to what is observed.

Now, just for fun, here is my view of the whole crew feeding inserts into the machine for that big paper. Usually there are only two or three people over there. But it needed lots of babysitting for a paper with 20 inserts! We strapped them in bundles with only 10 papers in each, they were so big!

newspaper mailroom

See Strapping the Newspapers
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Ann said...

Always a pain when a machine isn't working properly. My husbands shop had to send all but him and one other guy home last week and give them all an additional day off because a machine was down.
The Thanksgiving day paper was always my favorite with all those sale ads in it. Now I could care less. I never considered how busy things would be for you guys putting that paper together.

Secondary Roads said...

I agree with your moral. We can't see what's agitating a person's mind or troubling their heart.

vanilla said...

I like your nod to Aesop. A good story needs a moral.

Also, it is good to know that the wheels of commerce shall not be thwarted by balky machinery.

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