When it comes to pallet security, the right wrap places a critical role. Whether it’s a traditional hand wrap or an automated solution, selecting the proper film can ensure a secure fit and a productive process.
Finding both the right film and the proper process can save time, money and man-hours. Waste Gas Fabricating Co. used the GaleWrap film with the Yellow Jacket robotic pallet wrapper and found significant savings right away.
“We are now wrapping four skids in the time it took to wrap only one by hand,” says Kyle Cloman, President and CEO of Waste Gas Fabricating Co. “Coupled with the fact the job can be done by one employee instead of two or three, we have already seen a return on this investment and paid for it in savings.”
The value of GaleWrap as part of an automated solution is found in its trademarked Post Wrap Contraction that allows the wrap to keep contracting around the load even after it is wrapped. Because it is an oriented film, the GaleWrap film allows the pallet to be wrapped with fewer revolutions, reducing the film consumed. And since GaleWrap includes a guarantee that you will use the full roll without the roll hanging up at the end.
But even in hand-wrapping operations, GaleWrap provides significant benefits. The rolls themselves are lighter, reducing the risk of back injuries to employees. The trademarked Tug n' Snug feature ensures that with a quick tug at the pallet corners, the load will be secured. With a puncture resistant film, the GaleWrap technology is less expensive on either a cost-per-roll basis or on a cost-per-load basis.
Even with all the advancement in automated pallet wrapping technology, there are still times when one worker and two good hands are needed to secure a load for shipping. If the only costs involved were the worker and the film roll, the use of hand film still would be competitive.
Issues such as worker injury, damage to product from improper work practices, and film product waste is one reason companies have moved much of their pallet wrapping to automated systems.
There still is a need for hand film, however, and there are several best practices to ensure minimal damage and maximum success.
GaleWrap® film does offer its oriented film as part of its automated Wrap n’ Ship Program. But for the times when hand film is still the best solution, the technology built into the wrap does matter.
Michael Klear, Marketing Manager, Muller
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. Often that leads to “the fear factor”- the idea that changes lead to trouble. 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 any improvements (and investments) that are made will be wasted if the product arrives damaged. Load containment is key, especially where accidents can lead to disaster for the manufacturer and end user.
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 metal fabricators are becoming more reliant on stretch wrapping to ensure their product makes it to customers intact and unharmed. Therefore, increasingly, stretch wrapping has become recognized as a critical component in making sure a product arrives in the condition intended.
Stretch wrapping offers several unique benefits. For one, the wrap is clear, allowing the customer to easily identify the product they are receiving. Another great benefit of stretch wrap is that contents are protected from the elements. 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, automating is a clear winner in terms of productivity and there are statistics to prove it.
Reach Greater Productivity
Incorporating semi or fully automatic stretch wrap machines can significantly cut down 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. When selecting a stretch wrap machine it’s important to first consider how many pallets you wrap per day and the type of load being wrapped. With so many different machines available, reaching your greatest potential for productivity means matching the machine to your application.
When securing oversized, oddly shaped, palletized loads, an orbital wrapper like Muller’s Yellow Jacket’s 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 also remain on the forklift while being wrapped. Typically it takes two workers approximately 10 minutes to wrap a load by hand, while the same load can be wrapped utilizing the Yellow Jacket in 1 minute with only one worker- reducing labor by as much as 95%. These time and labor savings add up- in fact, customers have reported savings up to $50,000 annually. Yellow Jacket also eliminates the need for other strapping materials or expensive cartons to secure loads.
When wrapping anywhere from 10-100 standard loads per day, one might consider a simple turntable stretch wrapping machine. Higher volumes, requiring 30+ loads to be wrapped every hour, are better served by using more advanced wrappers like Muller’s 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.
While stretch wrapping equipment can significantly reduce time and labor associated with load containment, it also benefits employees’ health. With hand wrapping, employees are continuously lifting 30-50lb rolls of film every day and bending in awkward positions which can lead to back strain or pulled muscles.
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 keeping it secure, and without product damage. The film also reduces the chance for products to shift or slide throughout handling and transportation.
Using straps or metal bands to secure loads also comes with its own risks. Not only is the process very tedious, bands can destroy the pallets and the loads. Too much tension on the strap and the bands can pop back when cut and injure employees. In both cases, the possibilities of loads shifting or sliding during transportation are also increased. With hand wrapping, a common problem is applying too much or too little film- resulting in unnecessary waste or causing load failures and transit damage. Strapping or banding is also challenging as the loads are only accurately secured at the point of contact. As mentioned earlier, too much tension on the bands and they can damage the product or pallet.
Go Ahead - 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. Speak to your supplier about your primary goals and options. If you are not sure how to improve your operations, companies like Muller LCS offer free packaging line audits/consultations to help companies understand the options available and tailor solutions to each manufacturer’s needs. So go ahead, wrap it up!
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.
According to the American Trucking Association1 nearly 70% of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks - which equates to 9.2 billion tons of freight annually. In short, that’s a lot of product headed to customer destinations on a daily basis and unfortunately not all arrives as intended. Nearly every manufacturer in every industry understands the importance of properly securing pallet loads for transport. One proverbial wrong turn and the entire load can be damaged.
Thankfully there are ample solutions for securing ones upstream value and ensuring products arrive as intended to their final destination. Whether a small electronic device or large industrial pipe, the first step to proper load containment is identifying the right solutions for the job. Signode Industrial Group understands this all too well. The company is made up of over 88 manufacturing facilities across dozens of industries - all focused on protective packaging and load containment needs. And if there is one thing we have learned over the years, it’s the importance of protecting customer products. Helping manufacturers better understand the supply chain and solutions available, here is a quick guide:
The first step for most manufacturers, especially in electronics, automotive and food and beverage industries, is getting product into its respective case/box. However, most cases are provided flat and must be erected, sealed and labeled before they can be unitized and shipped. Those looking for reliable, cost-effective solutions for automating these processes should consider a company like Loveshaw. As an example, their brand of Little David case forming machines are commonly integrated into existing product lines for volumes as low as 500 cases per day.
For a little extra protection inside the box, Multi-Wall is an example of a company that provides custom, eco-friendly solutions to protect products from the constant knocking and vibration caused inside the box during transportation. Products like Sus-Pak® help firmly suspend product inside the box and cushion it to prevent damage.
Once packed and sealed, the next step is pallet unitization. Those looking for proper load containment solutions need look no further than Muller. From its high speed automatic Octopus™ rotary ring stretch wrappers and Lachenmeier stretch hooders to its robotic pallet wrappers and turntables, the company provides a range of equipment and material solutions to fit various applications and budgets.
Looking to strap it instead of wrap it? Signode has long pioneered the advancement of consumables and equipment for strapping. Protecting edges from potential strapping damage, companies like Angleboard offer additional armor with cornerboards.
Further downstream, manufacturers can ensure even greater protection during transportation by reducing friction between pallet loads with Shipper Products’ airbags or slippage with AIA’s TransMat® Rubber Friction Mats. Even loads with varying temperature requirements can be safely transported with insulated bulkheads and air chutes, like those by Insulated Transport Products, which helps create multi-temp zones in single trailers.
Recently, a wholesale grocery distributor took its commitment to quality products and service to a whole new level by incorporating Muller’s hand film and machine film into its supply chain operations. While film quality was critical to this expansion, it was the service, implementation and results that really sealed the deal.
Muller’s film can cost slightly more per roll than competitor’s film but the secret to beating the favored unit cost is simple; Muller proposed a long-term “partnership” and provided consistent and clear results.
Common practice to prevent damaged goods is to contain loads using stretch film. Whether by hand or machine, stretch wrapping pallet loads has been extremely effective for reducing product damage during transport.
The Challenge: To secure loads in ways that optimized the entire supply chain operation.
The grocery distributor understood this challenge and looked for ways to do just that. “Stretch film is often perceived as a basic consumable and judged solely on price per roll,” says the client. “We knew better and challenged our vendors to show us the true value and total cost of ownership.”
The first step to achieving greater total cost of ownership was understanding all the costs involved. For stretch wrapping processes, that means film consumption, labor and product integrity.
“Muller offers a quality product, we realized that right away. But more importantly, Muller provides superior service and backs up all its recommendations with real, quantifiable data. It takes the guessing game out of procurement,” says the client. “At the end of the day, determining optimal film product and application was key to our long-term savings and efficiencies.”
The distributor had data. They had answers. They had an SOP. But now the company had to implement it.
Muller representatives supported the distributor with on-site, round the clock service and support for the first week of initial delivery of film to each location. The partnership agreement with the distributor and Muller also ensures routine visits from Muller experts to any of the distributor’s DCs and requests for visits are completed in a timely fashion.
“How my product is received is just as important as the process it takes to get it there,” says the client. “Muller understands that and the result is that we are able to better serve our customers, ensure a consistent and secure pallet delivery while simultaneously saving money and reducing waste along the way. It’s really been a fantastic experience and a true partnership from start to finish.”
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