Haas Automation located in Oxnard, CA is the largest machine tool builder in North America. Serving manufacturing companies worldwide, the company produced 10,000 CNC (computer numerical control) machines in 2005. In order to compete with the lower labor costs of foreign manufacturers, Haas Automation turned to the automating process to help minimize their labor requirements. With the effort to remain competitive and keep up with their high-volume production demands; without increasing labor costs, the company realized their internal packaging/shipping operation needed to be streamlined as well. The solution to minimizing their labor costs: Yellow Jacket LLP orbital stretch-wrap technology.
Established in 1983, Haas Automation, Inc. is an international organization with distribution locations worldwide, but all of their machine tools are manufactured in USA. The company manufactures an extensive line of CNC machine tools, including vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers, and rotary tables. Haas Automation’s Oxnard, CA location occupies a 1,000,000 square foot facility, employing more than 200 engineers that work to accomplish their goal of “perfection” in machine tool manufacturing. With such a large-scale operation, the internal process of moving parts/sub-assemblies/assemblies to all the different areas in the plant, including manufacturing, assembly, and inventory is a crucial element of their operation.
The Challenge… A Slow, Labor Intensive & Inconsistent “Wrap to Ship” Method
On average, Haas Automation was preparing 200-250 pallets a day for internal preparation and transportation. Joe McKenna, Machine Shop Manager at Haas Automation, explains, “We move a lot of parts to and from our machine shop to our assembly line, inventory warehouse, and to other out-of-house processes. So, throughout the day we constantly have trucks coming and going, loading and unloading pallets of parts. And we were plastic wrapping the parts by hand. It was a very slow process, very labor intensive, and an old-fashioned method of doing it.” Pallet preparation by hand-wrapping was a lengthy process that required two men to hand off the stretch-wrap under and over the pallet to secure the load.
The company also felt their internal packaging/shipping operation needed to improve on the quality side. Hand-wrapping lacked consistent quality concerning the strength and durability of the plastic wrapped pallets. Haas Automation wanted to make sure their parts were safe and secure to eliminate any damage. McKenna states, “Not only does the film secure the part when shipping the pallets around, but it also protects the parts from weather conditions. Even if it is not raining, we are close to the coast and the humid, salt-filled air will cause parts to quickly rust just from the moisture in the air. So stretch-wrapping our parts on the pallet protects them from the moisture as well, and we needed to find a better way to ensure consistent quality.” A securely wrapped pallet is very important because parts may often be stored outside for a couple of days, or stored in inventory for several weeks.
The Solution…Yellow Jacket Orbital Stretch-Wrap Machine
While searching for an innovative solution to replace their “old-fashioned method,” they discovered a new technology suited to solve their problems: orbital stretch-wrap technology from Yellow Jacket. Haas Automation purchased an 87” Semi-Automatic Yellow Jacket 110 Orbital Stretch-Wrap Machine to help them secure standard, oversized, or odd shaped loads. Operators can control the Yellow Jacket machine from the seat of the forklift, moving a horizontally positioned stretch-wrap dispenser around and under loads quickly to secure parts to the pallets.
The Yellow Jacket 110 orbital stretch-wrap technology provided a way to minimize labor costs, maintain consistent quality, and eliminate damage issues. The Yellow Jacket 110 enabled Haas Automation to effectively streamline their pallet preparation process from a 2 person/5 minute job to a single person/1 minute job. Haas Automation quickly realized their return-on-investment, McKenna clarifies, “We calculated that the Yellow Jacket saves us the work of a half of a person, or a yearly savings of $20,000. This machine is a great return-on-investment, easily paying for itself within 2 years.”
Automation at Its Best…Automatic Tension Control Makes the Difference
As a company that pushes high-volume production schedules, Haas Automation found success in streamlining their pallet preparation process to minimize labor cost, but other problems and issues were solved along the way. McKenna states, “Our labor savings is just the minimum, there is also improved quality. We are protecting our parts in a better fashion. The Yellow Jacket 110 is automation, and that is the way we wanted to go.”
McKenna continued to explain, that the automatic tension control on the Yellow Jacket 110 really makes the difference in better securing the load. The machine secures the load right on the forks of the forklift, locking the load to the pallet and providing secure, safe and superior pack-to-ship performance, “doing a much better job than wrapping by hand. A machine is much more consistent with the tension, if you are doing it by hand you are relying on the person. This machine has automatic tension control and is going to package your product in a much more consistent and professional manner,” states Mckenna.
Complete Capabilities…Handling Heavy Parts & Pre-painted Components
As a machine tool manufacturer, Haas Automation produces heavy parts and pre-painted components. The Yellow Jacket 110 provides a way to securely wrap large products on pallets, while also protecting them from damage that often occurs during transportation. “We wrap parts up to 500 lbs pounds on a pallet with the stretch-wrap and it holds it very stable. It is amazing how strong it is with the correct tension and amount of revolutions. We often transport our parts 60-70 miles to outside vendors in an open flat bed truck and we don’t have a problem with the parts breaking lose...the Yellow Jacket 110 wraps the pallets very secure,” McKenna states.
Not only did Haas Automation need the capability to safely secure heavy parts, but many of their products have pre-painted components that need extra attention to protect them from being scratched or damaged. McKenna explains, “A lot of our components are painted and the film helps protect them. Traditional metal or plastic banding or straps often left a mark on the parts and did not protect the entire part from getting scratched.” Haas Automation was looking for a way to protect their parts, and the Yellow Jacket 110 provided a superior solution to prevent damage.
Simplicity, Support, and Service
When it comes to ease of operation, the Yellow Jacket 110 passes the test. Haas Automation wanted to avoid complicated machinery and keep their material handling operation simple and efficient. McKenna explains, “The Yellow Jacket 110 is extremely easy to operate, it is a simple design, and we like things that way…‘the simpler the better’ concept.” Haas Automation not only enjoys the ease of operation of their Yellow Jacket 110, but also the service and continual support from Yellow Jacket’s staff and personnel makes a big difference. McKenna notes, “Yellow Jacket provided excellent training and excellent support to show us how to operate and maintain the machine; they really eased our mind. They worked with us to meet our exact needs, answered all of our questions, and came out here to train us right away. There was clear communication from the initial quoting, Yellow Jacket is very customer-oriented. They stand behind their product, and it works well.”
The company is now looking into purchasing another Yellow Jacket for their shipping department. McKenna said, “I showed the machine to the shipping department manager and he showed some interest. So there is a good possibility we will have a Yellow Jacket machine in that type of application, for wrapping parts to ship direct to our customers. Products are already shipped in cardboard boxes, but it seems to be more secure and more professional to stretch-wrap the boxes.”
Learn how the Yellow Jacket 110® stretch-wrap equipment might improve your operations. Call 800-387-5001 (marketing: ext. 109; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).