The End of the Line is Only the Beginning
Stretch wrapping equipment can create efficiencies in material handling and beyond.
Manufacturers are constantly charged with implementing processes that lead to greater efficiencies. From the outside, that may sound like an easy task. But on the manufacturing floor, changes to any part of the process, from the beginning of the line to the end, must be handled with care. With that in mind, manufacturers need to identify ways to make changes that are easy to incorporate and choose processes that quickly and easily yield benefits.
When looking to create new efficiencies on the line, it is very common to focus upstream of the stretch wrapper. However, it is important to remember that any improvements (and investments) will be wasted if the product arrives damaged. Load containment is key, especially in terms of adhesives and sealants, where accidents can lead to disaster for the manufacturer and end user. Without proper load containment, adhesives and sealants can become contaminated or wasted. In other instances where the load may fall and spill, hazmat procedures may also be required to ensure people are not in danger and the environment is not contaminated.
Why Stretch Wrap?
Stretch wrapping may be the last operation before the product leaves the production facility, but it is the very first thing the customer sees when it enters their facility. Many manufacturers have made the transitions from boxes to trays to pads, while adhesive and sealant manufacturers have become more reliant on stretch wrapping to ensure their product makes it to customers intact and unharmed. Therefore, stretch wrapping has become increasingly more recognized as a critical component to ensuring a product arrives in the intended condition.
Stretch wrapping offers several benefits for the adhesives and sealants industry. For one, the wrap is clear, allowing the customer to easily identify the product they are receiving. Another benefit is that stretch wrap protects contents from the elements, including environmental, chemical and sun exposure. In terms of sustainability, several arguments have been made to suggest stretch wrapping uses less material than large box containment, adding strapping or other forms of pallet load packaging. New stretch wrapping solutions are making changes to the end of the line incredibly attractive. When it comes to automating vs. hand wrapping, statistics prove that automating is a clear winner in terms of productivity.
Achieving Greater Productivity
Incorporating semi- or fully automatic stretch wrap machines can significantly reduce the time it takes to secure pallet loads. When compared to hand wrap, most machines on the market today can wrap the same load at least 50% faster. However, in order to reap those equipment benefits, finding the right machine is paramount. With so many different machines available, reaching your greatest potential for productivity means matching the machine to your application.
When selecting a stretch wrap machine, it is important to first consider how many pallets you wrap per day and the type of load being wrapped. Several companies offer services to help manufacturers identify what machines and products are right for the type of pallets being wrapped. Using these services is key to achieving the full benefits of automation.
When securing oversized, oddly shaped, palletized loads, an orbital wrapper like the Yellow Jacket 87M orbital stretch wrapper should be considered. The 87M is a horizontally positioned stretch wrap dispenser that moves around and under a load as the Yellow Jacket is manually advanced across the length of the load. With the 87M, loads remain on the forklift while being wrapped. Typically, two workers require approximately 10 minutes to wrap a load by hand, while the same load can be wrapped using the Yellow Jacket in one minute with only one worker, thereby reducing labor by as much as 95%.
Another common problem with hand wrapping is applying too much or too little film, which results in unnecessary waste or load failures and transit damage. In addition to significantly reducing the labor and time required, Yellow Jacket also eliminates the need for additional strapping materials or expensive cartons to secure loads.
A simple turntable stretch wrapping machine should be considered when wrapping 10-100 standard loads per day. Higher volumes, such as those requiring 30+ loads to be wrapped every hour, are better served by using more advanced wrappers like the ITW Muller Octopus rotary ring stretch wrapping machines. Available in many sizes and speeds, the Octopus line exceeds most volume and speed requirements, while its pre-stretch design can save manufacturers up to 25% in film usage over other wrapping machines. In addition, it is easily adaptable to a wide range of modular options and upgrades, like the ITW Muller Tail Tucker and Logo Wrap™ products. Ideal for pallets of round pails or buckets of sealant and adhesive, Tail Tucker is a patented method of securing the film tail at the end of the wrap cycle. LogoWrap is an automated way to provide four-sided brand identification to adhesive products that would benefit from enhanced recognition when on the shelf of a big box store or sitting in the distributor’s yard.
While stretch wrapping equipment can significantly reduce the time and labor associated with load containment, it can also benefit employee health. With hand wrapping, employees are continuously lifting 30- to 50-lb rolls of film every day and bending in awkward positions, which can lead to back strain or pulled muscles.
Using straps or metal bands to secure loads can also be risky. Not only is the process tedious, but bands can destroy the pallets and the loads. Too much tension on the straps and bands can cause them to pop back when cut and injure employees. In both cases, the possibility of loads shifting or sliding during transportation is also increased. Strapping or banding is also challenging since the loads are only accurately secured at the point of contact. As mentioned earlier, too much tension on the bands can cause damage to the product or pallet.
In contrast, stretch wrapping equipment significantly reduces employee injury. Employees are at less risk, as the equipment does most of the hard labor associated with wrapping. In addition, stretch wrap equipment can apply the right film tension and pressure to a load to keep it secure without damaging the product. The film also reduces the chance for products to shift or slide throughout handling and transportation.
More Bang for Your Buck
When considering the upfront costs involved with purchasing new equipment, it is important to factor efficiencies gained throughout the material handling process. As demonstrated in the earlier example where the orbital wrapper helped reduce wrap time by over 100% and labor by 50%, users have reported savings up to $50,000 annually.
New stretch wrap technology and solutions add additional savings. For example, the Octopus line offers a number of retrofits and upgrades, like OctoMAX™. Available as an enhancement to the Octopus line or as a retrofit to most existing machines, OctoMAX uses proprietary hardware and software to monitor and measure equipment and film effectiveness. The system enables customers to maximize the performance of their machine by making sure the optimal settings, pre-stretch gears, number of wraps and amount of film are set at all times, and can maximize savings by monitoring film performance. Ultimately, that means manufacturers can meet both growing cost constraints and sustainability goals by reducing waste and downtime.
Wrap It Up
Stretch wrap machines come in many forms. Before selecting the right machinery, it is important to consider output, load type, labor and the packaging cost. If you are currently using straps or hand wrapping, taking a look at stretch wrap equipment can save you time and money. Advancements in stretch wrap technology and solutions could also mean it may be time to evaluate the stretch wrap equipment you already have.
Speak to your supplier about your primary goals and options. If you are not sure how to improve your operations, companies often offer free packaging line audits/consultations to help manufacturers understand the options available and tailor solutions to specific needs.
For more information, contact Yellow Jacket at 1320 Leslie Dr., Douglasville, GA 30314; phone (866) 425-3727; or visit www.yellowjacket110.com.