Safer, More Efficient Web Thread-up

a belt carries excess cut paper to a waste bin above the tail sealer
A belt carries excess cut paper to a waste bin above the tail sealer; it can then be removed without interrupting production.

Web thread-up on tissue converting equipment is one of the most important tasks an operator can perform. The web thread-up is required any time the web brakes throughout the line or in cases where parent reel defects come undetected.

Traditionally, the process is inefficient, wasteful, and potentially dangerous.

Why? The web thread-up procedure is well established and hasn’t been deviated from in decades. The production line is stopped and the operator passes the web through the machine via manual jog advancement (about 5 m/min.) Operators are required to climb in and out of equipment to guide web tails along the web path in close range of moving—and therefore potentially dangerous—parts. The process is slow and inherently risky; the stress is amplified by the need to get the line restarted as soon as possible.

Despite its flaws, the existing procedure, with the operator spending a good amount of time inside the line, is the only possible solution … or is it? Time, technology, and Körber Business Area Tissue innovations are challenging this widely held belief.


Körber Business Area Tissue engineers recognized that traditional manual web thread-up compelled tissue manufacturers to sacrifice safety and efficiency for necessity. Finding an alternative was crucial, and an automated solution would be ideal.

The result of leaning into the challenge is the Auto Web Starter. This automated web thread-up solution simplifies the process with a series of three systems that work in succession:

  • Shuttle: A specially designed system of plastic shuttles and belts takes the place of operators manually guiding the web. Operators weave the web tail into the shuttles, attach the shuttles to the belt, and exit the machine to start the automated process from the HMI panel.
  • Transfer: When a line configuration dictates a web tail transfer between belts, the process is automated instead of manual. The web tail is automatically removed from the previous belt and transferred to the next belt while the machines run at low speed.
  • Re-start: With the rewinder running at low speed, full and consistent web spread is achieved quickly. The Auto Web Starter detects when the paper is completely spread, then automatically cuts the paper and restarts production at full speed. A belt that runs beyond the rewinder carries any excess cut paper to a waste bin above the tail sealer. An operator safely removes the waste without interrupting production.
The Auto Web Starter requires the operator to enter a machine only once, to weave the web tail into the shuttles.


The ingenious design and operation of the Auto Web Starter transforms pain points into benefits for tissue manufacturers in these key areas:

Increased operator safety—The primary advantage of the Auto Web Starter system is operator safety. “There are inherent risks in traditional web thread-up. Operators are required to carry out certain tasks inside the line,” says Körber Business Area Tissue product manager Stefano Palazzesi. “Add to it the pressure put on operators to complete the tasks quickly, and the potential for mistakes and injuries increases exponentially.”

the auto web starter requires the operator

The Auto Web Starter system addresses and mitigates risk through automation. There is no need for an operator to follow the web along its entire path to prevent paper jams. This means no entries for jog running with hands near moving equipment parts—a far safer and less stressful working environment for operators!

“The Auto Web Starter requires that an operator enter a machine only once, at the start of the process, to weave the web tail into the specially designed shuttles and attach the prepared shuttles to the belts,” explains Palazzesi. “The operator starts the automatic web thread-up from the HMI panel. The system passes the web to the rewinder at a low and continuous speed, then automatically starts the normal run.”

Improved efficiency and performance—In addition to fully protecting operators, the Auto Web Starter contributes to time savings and improved overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) through:

  • Eliminating manual tasks related to web thread-up, which can reduce paper passage time from an average of 15 minutes to an average of less than 5 minutes, depending on the line configuration.
  • Simplifying threading requirements, giving operators more time to attend to other skilled tasks and perform at even higher levels of efficiency.
  • Functioning with the line running at a continuous low speed with automatic transition to normal speed, instead of requiring prolonged jogs and manual restarts.

“Globally, tissue manufacturers recognize that innovation is the key to meeting customer demand and also gaining competitive advantage,” commented Claudio Muñoz, senior director global strategic marketing for Körber Business Area Tissue. “This system demonstrates how next-level technology maximizes operational efficiency, while significantly reducing the residual risk of operator’s injury during machine operation.”

Less waste—Traditional web thread-up commonly results in the first log being scrapped as waste. By integrating automation into the process, the Auto Web Starter is more capable of producing a usable first log. This further increases OEE, can help to contain materials costs, and could give manufacturers greater control over waste management. As the Auto Web Starter gains more prevalence on the production line, there may be a shift in first log usability, provided that embossing and other tissue characteristics meet specifications.

When time-honored processes such as traditional web thread-up are impeding the success of tissue manufacturers, it’s time to challenge convention. Automation such as that offered by the Auto Web Starter system helps tissue makers lean into digital transformation and Industry 4.0 with the vision and technologies to shape the future of the tissue industry.

Claudio J. Muñoz is senior director of global strategic marketing for Körber. Körber Business Area Tissue is an integrated, global provider of advanced solutions for the tissue business, offering a portfolio of tissue technology to support customers across the entire value. Körber AG is the holding company of the Körber Group, an international technology group with more than 100 locations worldwide.