Marketing Automation Platform
More than 30 years ago, the Octopus ring technology was introduced, and while the technology embraced packaging in a new way, the wrapping industry embraced the Octopus.
As Corrugated Week launched Sept. 24-27 in Indianapolis, Muller LCS featured the latest generations of Octopus technology at Booth 407. While a great deal has changed in those 30 years, value and the quality of stretch wrapping remains the focal point, and Octopus continues to be the industry leader.
From the high speed and high value of the B Series to the small footprint and big power of the C Series to the high-volume and low-maintenance S Series, the Octopus line provides the manufacturer with options that meet the changing needs of the accelerating supply chain. Each utilize the S film cartridge, which is easy to thread and helps reduce the overall cost of ownership.
Another high-volume alternative is the Muller TWIN series, which maximizes load containment while minimizing film consumption. It also features easy installation and requires a minimum amount of maintenance.
These all are important issues, because the expansion of e-commerce requires a smarter and more secure and more reliable supply chain. The automated supply chain was among the topics presented at Corrugated Week, which convenes every four years to look at the changing issues in the packaging and distribution industry,
While a great deal has changed in the industry since the last Corrugated Week, the fundamentals of high-volume pallet management remains a basic need. It’s what Octopus first wrapped its arms around 30 years ago, and this year’s convention saw the latest generation of that commitment to the industry.
The packaging industry leaders gathered Sept. 24-27 in Indianapolis to get caught up on everything that has changed in the four years since the last Corrugated Week convened.
Managed by industry associations TAPPI and AICC, Corrugated Week brought together the top packaging and shipping experts to assess the state of the industry.
So what’s changed in the last four years? Amazon’s meteoric growth and the continued rise of e-commerce means speed was among the biggest topics of the week. Among the Corrugated Week learning topics were digital printing and material handling automation, two of the most significant changes in the industry since the industry last got together in Long Beach, Calif. in 2014. Safety, human resources and a new Emerging Leaders/Young Professionals track were among the other key topics for the week at the Indiana Convention Center.
Lachenmeier/Muller LCS Stretch Wrapping had its industry-leading product solutions on display at Booth 406. Among the Lachenmeier products on display were the MultiFleXL, designed to take on some of the biggest stretch wrapping products with both speed and a reduced footprint.
The Multi FleXL machine tackled loads from as small as 20 X 20 inches to as large and 125 inches in lengths by 66 inches in width, with a maximum height to 120 inches. Depending on the height and size of the load, the MultiFleXL can securely wrap up to 150 loads per hour.
Combined with Lachenmeier’s exclusive Xeros condensation control film, attendees at Corrugated Week learned about pallets of cardboard and other large bundles wrapped secure from moisture and weather (including sunshine) but also secured to the pallet.
In the next recap of Corrugated Week, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Muller's Octopus and how it will provide secure solutions for the corrugated industry.
The first consideration in any stretch wrapping operation is a secure load. Right after that comes the consideration of how much wrap material needed to secure the load.
When the Octopus ring technology was developed more than 30 years ago, it addressed both issues in a compact and efficient form. The pallet stayed in place while the stretch wrap revolved around the load, tightly anchoring the pallet and reducing worker strain.
As the technology has evolved, one of the key improvements has been the ‘S-style’ feed on the Octopus machines--from the cost-effective B-Series to the versatile C-Series to the high-speed, highly effective S-Series. The S-style feed on the Octopus accomplishes both of the goals of the original Octopus. First, it creates a more effective pre-stretch of the wrapping materials. This allows for the tightest possible wrap on the first pass, and on every pass that follows.
That’s important because not every load is a perfect cube. In an age of single-product pulls from distribution centers, it’s more likely the shipping pallet will include odd lots and different sizes and shapes of containers. That pre-stretch provided by the S-style feed gives the material handling team the confidence that every load is secured to the pallet, regardless of the size or shape of the load itself.
The other benefit of the S-style is the amount of wrapping material needed compared to the W-style pre-stretch technology. If you think about the differences between the letters, the S-style has just two pivot points; the W-style has three. Multiplied over the daily output of a stretch wrapper and the life of the product, that’s a significant amount of wrap. But because the S-style offered on the Octopus lines provides security in the pre-stretch itself, both goals can be accomplished.
The Octopus system can reduce stretch film usage by up to 25% as compared to rotary arm stretch wrap systems, and the versatility built into every Octopus system provides the greatest flexibility in wrap programs on the market.
The ‘S’ may describe the shape of the wrap form as it prepares fort secure an order, but it also stands for ‘secure’ and ‘savings’. Those are the two important considerations when considering any stretch wrapping solution.
Going automated is the obvious choice when wrapping 60+ loads an hour. But if you have a high volume job and a need for speed, it really only comes down to two options; rotary ring or rotary arm. In theory, both these machines do the same job, right? They use the same basic principal to apply stretch film to the pallet by going around the load. But there is of course, this not so subtle difference; one uses and arm and the other a ring.
So, it’s time to answer the age old question; which is better and why?
Full disclosure; we sell both rotary arm and rotary ring machines, so there’s no favoritism here.
Turning a ring around a load is inherently faster because it doesn’t require as much inertia as a rotary arm. Rotary arms don’t hold up nearly as well to speed because of the wear and tear from stress created by a less ergonomically friendly design. The centrifugal force causes the film end to pull away from the machine base. In fact, if not lagged to the ground, this force would cause the entire machine to topple over at high speeds. The ring model keeps the force contained and balanced throughout the machine- making it easier to achieve higher speeds without compromising the equipment or production.
There isn’t a clear winner here. The size really depends on the model of machine. Sometimes the arm is going to be smaller, sometimes the ring. In the end, both the rotary arm and rotary ring provide similar footprints and can be installed in the similar locations throughout the plant.
Winner: Ring—by a landslide.
Rotary arms have limited wrap patterns because you are always starting a wrap at the bottom, working up, and finally clamping at the top. Many rotary rings, like our Octopus line, have over 200 different wrap patterns to choose from and can start and stop anywhere on the load. The ability to pre-program wrap patterns also means various pallets can be wrapped without hesitation or operator interface. For lighter loads, like cereal boxes, this advantage also enables users to add film in weak or vulnerable spots such as the middle or the top.
Ease of use makes the ring a clear winner. The ring frame can be brought down to ground level, making it a comfortable and safe level to work on. If that wasn’t proof enough that the ring should win in the maintenance category, no gear boxes at the top of the machine and the use of web belts to lift the frame- virtually eliminating lubrication points—puts ring over the top. In contrast, rotary arm machines have the chain drives and gear boxes at the top of the machine, creating the need for a ladder-- and with more parts, chains and wires, the overall maintenance is cumbersome and costly.
It goes without saying that having the ability to bring the rotary ring down to a comfortable position is safer than having technicians climb ladders to troubleshoot equipment. But it also helps that you can load film by bringing the ring to you. Rotary rings also offer the option of an Auto Roll changer—this obviously reduces the chance of accidents because the machine is doing the work, eliminating the need for operators to be near the wrap zone. For applications that require a top sheet, manufacturers using rotary arm solutions need to install an overhead hoist and have two workers hold the top sheet in place while the wrapper secures it with a couple revolutions of film. Top sheet film rolls also weigh upwards of 70lbs. The weight alone requires a forklift or crane to position the film. In contrast, the Octopus rotary ring solution is again brought to floor level for easy loading. Then, with a push of a button, the top sheet is automatically positioned and applied without operator involvement.
There’s also potential load contamination and slip hazards associated with rotary arm technology. Since the lubrication and main pivot points rest on the top of the arm directly over the pallet of goods, it’s common for oil and grease to drip on product or the floor. This is especially troubling for food manufacturers and general food handlers where this type of contact with oil and grease creates contamination concerns. In contrast, rotary ring machines eliminate these problems since there are no lubrication points overhead.
Winner: Tie (well, sort of)
If you are talking the upfront cost of the machine, the rotary arm tends to have a lower entry price. But, if you are evaluating the total cost of ownership, with increased flexibility, less maintenance and greater safety, the rotary ring solutions provide a greater return in the long run. Our Octopus users save 25-30% in film usage alone with the ability to tailor film tension settings and wrap patterns.
In the end, either solution will get the job done. Both solutions wrap quickly and effectively. There’s a lot to consider, and we’re here to help you make those decisions and support throughout the lifetime of your machine.
Neil Weisensel, Brand & Marketing Director, Muller
There are many ways to secure a pallet load. One common method is hand wrapping. However, hand wrapping can be a tricky and sometimes costly process. Because pallets are shipped in less-than-ideal conditions, tossed around by forklifts and then often jostled around by trucks during transport, load failure costs due to improperly wrapped loads can run up to 3% of the annual value of the products shipped. That’s why it’s important to choose hand-wrap film that does the job optimally the first time around. The right film will reduce load failures, costs and waste.
With countless brands of hand film available, it can be challenging to choose the right one. To simplify the selection a bit, hand film can be categorized into three types: conventional, offline pre-stretched, and oriented in-line. Easy enough. Nevertheless, the finished product dramatically differs and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of film will affect one’s bottom line. When you add up all the costs and risks, oriented film will often come out as the clear winner.
Stretching Your Budget
There are a number of factors that contribute to cost savings when it comes to hand wrap film. The most obvious is in film consumption—thinner films and fewer film revolutions on the pallet will result in less waste and costs. Conventional film is the most difficult to monitor and reduce because it must be manually stretched during application. To compete with oriented in-line and offline pre-stretch film, conventional hand wrap should ideally be stretched 150-250% or more. That is the optimal stretch percentage to yield the best balance between thicknesses of the final film and force to load. The fact is, it is virtually impossible to manually achieve that level of stretch. Thus, employees are applying much thicker film than the load requires and ultimately over-use conventional film. Without proper stretch, the film will also loosen as the pallet shifts and product pushes against it. In addition, it is unreasonable to expect employees to stretch the film with any consistency—making it even harder to manage consumption. For example, an employee might stretch 30% in the morning when the boss is watching, but only 5% latter in the day.
In contrast, pre-stretched film solves many of the above challenges. The film is inherently thinner, yet stronger, and requires fewer wraps to secure a load. Also, employees do not need to manually stretch the film. However, because the film is pre-stretched offline and then re-wound (often quite loosely) on the core, it must be applied tightly to get back the holding force capability in the film. Further, punctures and film failures are more common when applying these films quickly and tightly. If instead they applied loosely, it will take many more wraps (revolutions around the pallet) to achieve the same load integrity.
Oriented film, on the other hand, is an in-line manufacturing process, which means that it too is thinner, contains the necessary stretch, but it is wound in such a way that it continues to contract around the load even after the load is wrapped. Oriented film is manufactured with multiple layers of LLDPE plastic, which provide an optimal blend of stretch and strength.
There are a few other benefits of oriented film as well. The hemmed edges of oriented film prevent "neck down," or narrowing, and a tug at the corners is all it usually takes to secure a pallet. This translates directly into fewer revolutions around the load and increased productivity. Compared with oriented film, pre-stretch film’s behavior in action usually requires more effort and more film to securely wrap the same pallet load.
And to wrap it up, so to speak, oriented film has great puncture resistance and, if it is ever punctured, it will not propagate or “zipper,” which causes time-wasting interruptions in the wrapping process. Some companies are so confident in the quality of their oriented film (like Muller is in their GaleWrap Oriented film) that they will even offer a money-back guarantee for customers if they don’t use the entirety of every roll.
To put it in perspective, a major food distributor, with over 50 locations nationwide, was able to save over 2,000,000 lbs of film per year by switching to ITW GaleWrap Oriented hand film. More specifically, 37 locations previously used conventional film and 27 locations used pre-stretched film—combined they used 4,292,000 lbs of film annually. After incorporating GaleWrap across all its facilities, the food distributor only required 2,270,000 lbs of film annually to achieve the same number of loads wrapped.
Similarly, a large Pepsi-Cola Distributor in the Midwest, LinPepCo, found that oriented hand wrapping not only made the process safer, faster and easier, but it also minimized film breakage and waste. The high-volume shipper wraps 220 loads per day just at its facility in Lincoln, Nebraska, and it has three other locations wrapping a similar number of loads.
So, compared to the film LinPepCo was using before, the company estimated that they now save about 3 rolls per 144 rolls. The savings equate to roughly 308 rolls per year across all four facilities. In other words, LinPepCo saves about $2,500 to $3,000 per year in material purchases alone.
Oriented Toward Safety
Employee safety is another important factor to take in to consideration when choosing film. Hand-wrapping greatly increases the chance of employee back injury due to lifting the heavy film rolls. According to the US Department of Labor, the average worker’s compensation claim in the US is over $21,000. Oriented films are the lightest of the three. In fact, Muller, GaleWrap LITE Oriented Film is 50% lighter than conventional 70-gauge films and easier to maneuver—greatly reducing the risk of employee injury.
The Bottom Line With a 60- to 70-gauge performance equivalent, GaleWrap LITE rolls are also 50% stronger than pre-stretched films of equal weight. This allows for greater load integrity and less wasted film due to breaks or tears. The LITE film also provides users with puncture resistant material.
The Bottom Line
In short, if you are looking to reduce costs, minimize waste and improve overall productivity of your hand-wrapping processes, oriented films are the best bets. Factoring in the long-term benefits over upfront costs is an important exercise. Oriented film can not only reduce costs throughout the stretch wrapping process, but it can also help companies meet growing sustainability goals. When in doubt, talk to your vendor. Companies like Muller LCS offer sustainability audits and free consultations to help you identify areas for improvement. With a full suite of stretch wrapping products and services, they can also help you go from hand-wrapping to assisted-wrapping to fully automated stretch-wrapping, when the time is right.
Welcome to summer! It’s a season of holidays, picnics and the occasional thunderstorm. Rain is the enemy of outdoor plans, but it is fatal to corrugated cardboard.
When Lachenmeier debuted its Multi FleXL stretch hood machine at CorrExpo 2017 in Providence, R.I., the goal was to provide the corrugated industry with a water-tight and secure shipping solution for box pallets of all shapes and sizes.
Because the Multi FleXL’s patented technology keeps loads both snug and dry, the boxes are protected from rain and humidity even when the weather changes. Combined with the popular Xeros stretch hood film, the box pallets are protected on five sides.
The Xeros film is a vital part of the solution as well. The multi-layer film technology repels not just water, humidity and condensation, but manages the impact of sunlight while maintaining the ability to read barcodes through the film.
“The system saves customers 10 percent in film consumption, is 100 percent waterproof, and eliminates the risk of contamination, (and it) addresses and solves many concerns in today’s supply chain,” Mark Wolschlag, National Accounts Manager at Muller, told the audience at CorrExpo 2017.
It will still be pretty humid in Indianapolis on September 25-26 when Corrugated Week, held only every four years, gathers industry leaders to look at the top trends and the best solutions. Multi FleXL and Zeros already have a one-year lead in establishing itself as a solution to keep the industry’s most vital asset secure and dry, no matter the weather.
Dan Schmidt, Business Development Manager, Muller
Is the amount of load damage going up with the age of your stretch wrap equipment? Having trouble keeping up with production and the increasing number of SKUs and load configurations? Have a need to do more with less people and feel automation might be the answer? Would you save money on film and eliminate film breaks if you could just improve performance?
If any of these questions have crossed your mind, then it’s time to seriously consider how to justify a new stretch wrap machine. In today’s economy, it’s unlikely your company is just handing over money for new capital equipment. Budgets are tight and every department is competing for the reduced dollars available. The good news is that there are many ways to justify the cost of a new pallet wrapper and prove a quick return on your investment.
The Right Fit
It’s important to consider what type of stretch wrapper is best suited for your specific application. Think about the size, weight and variability of the loads you will be wrapping. Highly variable loads would benefit from certain types of machinery, such as orbital, horizontal wrappers (like the Yellow Jacket) that secure the load most securely to the pallet. Stable, light-weight loads of consumer goods would do well with a turntable style wrapper, while unstable or heavy loads would do better with a rotary arm machine. For the best all-around performance, rotary ring machines can handle heavy and variable loads, such as construction supplies, pet food and beverages while still handling the highest volume lines.
Need for Speed
One should consider the production speeds required. If moving from a hand wrap application to simple automation, a semi-automatic stretch wrapper may be all that is required. Although these machines still requires a person to manually attach the film to the load at the beginning of the wrap cycle and cut the film at the end of the cycle, they can achieve rates as high as 35 loads per hour. The labor reduction or improved productivity may justify the relatively low cost of these machines.
If you’ve outgrown your existing stretch wrapper or are adding production, a fully automatic stretch wrapper may meet your needs best. While these machines typically cost more, the savings in labor, improved productivity, and increased versatility may easily justify this type of machine. Whether you choose a highly automated ring wrapper that can achieve speeds as high as 150 loads per hour or you prefer the redundancy of two lower volume machines in parallel can depend on available space, labor costs and maintenance expenses.
Living in a Material World
It is important to understand the material savings that can be achieved with a new stretch wrapper. Payback can be quick for equipment that allows you to reduce film usage. These savings are also, typically, the easiest to quantify. For example, film usage can be reduced by almost 30% when purchasing a new machine that would improve the amount of film pre-stretch from 150% to 250%.
Equipment design can also have a major effect on film usage. Almost all automatic turntable and rotary arm machines have a fixed clamp that requires the machine to start and stop at the bottom of the load. A rotary ring type machine, such as the Muller OctopusTM, has the flexibility to start and stop anywhere on the load. This can result in 25% film savings—often more than enough to justify a new machine. New machines may also offer opportunities to reduce the number of wraps or move to thinner films. Plus, for companies accounting for sustainability improvements as part of their evaluation, they will likely benefit from the thousands of pounds of film that can be saved.
A Load of Savings
Although film reductions can result in thousands of dollars in savings, it may pale in comparison to the money saved by eliminating load damage and reducing interruptions in production. Study results indicate that annual average unsaleables rates, as a percent of gross sales, are .96 percent for manufacturers, with nearly half of this as a result of damage. Improving load containment could quickly pay back the expense of a new machine—while making the customer much happier.
Likewise, by understanding the cost of production downtime, the justification for a new wrapper may be simple. Production stoppages can cost some companies in excess of $50 per minute. At this rate, eliminating even 20 minutes of downtime a week could pay for a new fully automatic wrapper very quickly.
New Technology Offers New Reasons to Buy
New technologies in stretch wrapping provide new ways to justify new equipment. Add-ons like LogoWrapTM from Muller can provide automatic and affordable brand identification. Additional labor savings can be achieved by adding an automatic film roll changer or SideKickTM spare carriage that allows for less frequent film changeovers and improved productivity. Performance monitoring systems such as OctoMAXTM provide assurance that the optimal amount of film will be applied to each and every load. Advances in film tension control can allow for variability throughout the wrap cycle to help reduce load damage and eliminate film breaks. Including an integrated top sheet or automated corner board applicator may eliminate enough labor to easily rationalize the cost of a new stretch wrapper.
Selection in Action
Every situation is different, but trained representatives can identify the best equipment choice for different scenarios. For example, Hensley Beverage Company had different challenges: Oddly shaped loads and loads encompassing several different products and sizes that would benefit greatly from variable film tension. ITW’s Octopus 808 machine solved these concerns because it applies just the right amount of tension at various points on the load. Manufacturers and distributors such as Hensley can rest-assured that they are reducing product damage while simultaneously lowering film costs.
Instead of operating with a single tension setting, variable tension control machines like the Octopus 808 allow for increased tension at locations on the load that require extra hold (the base of a sturdy box) and lighter tension where reduced force is beneficial (sharp corners, the top of an open box). Hensley Beverage Company has estimated that the Octopus 808 machine has saved the company about 1.5 men a day.
Suppliers, distributors, and end-user clients are all partners in the supply chain, and consistency benefits each step along the way. Finding a partner that can provide a world-wide network of support and global solutions goes a long way in creating consistency. Standardizing equipment can translate into reduced downtime due to faster repairs and shorter parts sourcing turnaround time. Dealing with one vendor instead of many is always more efficient, and the consistent delivery of your products will be appreciated by customers, because it will allow their processes to be more consistent as well.
If you are still not sure how to justify that new stretch wrapper, companies like Muller offer free packaging line audits and consultations to help companies understand the options available and tailor solutions to each manufacturer’s needs. By working with a company that offers a full breadth of global solutions and an expertise in quantifying economic justifications, you might be closer to that new stretch wrapper than you ever imagined.
1Source: GMA, FMI and Wipro Technologies 2010 study - The Impact of Sales and Procurement on Reverse Logistics