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Hensley Beverage Company Saves Time and Money with Efficient Stretch Wrap Process

Servicing 8000 accounts state-wide and wrapping nearly 1200 loads per day, Hensley Beverage Company is Arizona’s largest beverage distributor. With area restaurants, bars, retail and grocery stores dependent on deliveries of beverage products in excellent condition for thirsty customers, Hensley Beverage Company has to have a virtually seamless operation.  Opened in 1955, by Jim Hensley, the company started with 11 employees.  With 675 employees today and help from key partners, the company has grown significantly and perfected the distribution process.

Hensley Beverage Company has 4 facilities throughout Arizona with the hub of the Hensley Beverage Company operation in Phoenix. The company distributes exclusively for Anheuser Busch as well as a variety of beverage brands from craft beers, wines and spirits, to energy drinks, teas and everything in between. Therefore, Hensley Beverage Company must continuously look to its suppliers to help maximize efficiency and maintain product integrity.   

THE PACKAGING PUZZLE

With different products come different challenges. The manufacturer of both stretch wrap equipment and film is uniquely positioned to provide diverse solutions to its customers’ most unique packaging challenges.  For example, a common challenge; oddly shaped loads, ones encompassing several different products, sizes and packaging, require different film tension.

By applying just the right amount of tension at various points on the load, manufacturers can rest-assured that they are reducing product damage while simultaneously lowering film costs. Instead of operating with a singular tension setting, variable tension control allows 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). With the continuing changes in primary packaging design, it is crucial to have a system that offers flexibility and variability in order to optimize the stretch wrapping function.

Enter Muller LCS.  In 2008, Hensley Beverage Company purchased Muller’s Octopus 808 rotary ring stretch wrapping machine. The company further opted to retrofit the machine with Muller’s OctoMAX enhancement which comes standard with variable tension control.  “Over the last few years the economy has affected the way we do business.  To address new market demand for certain products, we have introduced several new beverage and product lines to our customers.  While it has been a smart business decision for the company, it came with unique packaging challenges,” says Joseph O’Connell, Phoenix Warehouse Manager of Hensley Beverage Company.  “Muller’s Octopus system has allowed us to package any load, regardless of shape, more efficiently.”

The Octopus 808 wraps up to 120 loads per hour—which allows Hensley Beverage Company to wrap nearly 600 loads a day on this line alone.  In addition to the speed and effectiveness of the wraps, the Octopus 808 uses up to 25% less film than other systems on the market.

“Any time we can save on film and reduce waste, we are creating a more efficient supply chain,” says O’Connell.  The Octopus 808 runs about 10-12 hours a day without interruption at the Hensley Beverage Company facility.  “Other systems cannot handle this immense volume and be as efficient.”

The Octopus 808 has also helped Hensley Beverage Company save money on operating costs. Beyond the film and waste reduction, Hensley Beverage Company has estimated that the Octopus 808 machine has saved the company about 1.5 men a day.  With minimal downtime and variable tension, additional costs are also saved.  Hensley Beverage Company is able to apply just the right amount of film while significantly improving the consistency of the wrapped loads.

ONE STEP AHEAD

In 2009, the company integrated Muller’s OctoMAX system which utilizes proprietary hardware and software to monitor and measure equipment and film effectiveness, to the line. The system not only enables Hensley Beverage Company to maximize the performance of its machine by making sure the optimal settings, pre-stretch gears, number of wraps and amount of film, are set at all times, it also maximizes savings by monitoring the performance of film.  OctoMAX also includes an email notification function alerting Hensley Beverage Company to any issues immediately. This has been extremely beneficial in eliminating the line from backing up and improving productivity.  Beyond notification, Hensley Beverage Company has access to a secure web portal that can track historical trends, produce a variety of reports, and help diagnose the root cause of issues. Ultimately, that means Hensley Beverage Company can meet both growing costs constraints and sustainability goals by reducing waste and downtime. Available as a retrofit or an upgrade on new or existing machines, Hensley Beverage Company opted to upgrade its Octopus 808 with OctoMAX.

“Because the Octopus system is virtually unmanned, we rely on OctoMAX to help us stay abreast of any problems before they affect efficiency,” says O’Connell.  “In addition, Muller LCS has been an excellent partner for us, sometimes even calling us about a problem before we see it here at the facility as they monitor our system as well.”

Aside from system reporting and monitoring, Hensley Beverage Company also has a maintenance program with Muller LCS. Because the system is running 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week, Muller LCS comes on-site at least twice a year to make sure the system is working optimally.  At this time, Muller LCS also ensures no adjustments or add-ons need to be made based on any changes in the way Hensley Beverage Company does business. “Muller’s consistent maintenance program ensures we are doing everything we can to create an effective process and that nothing is missed,” says O’Connell.

Hensley Beverage Company also purchases all stretch wrap film from Muller LCS for all four distribution centers.  “Muller LCS is truly a one-stop shop for all our stretch wrap needs.  Muller’s film is of exceptional quality and reduces the chance of film breaks and other common stretch wrap material concerns,” says O’Connell.  “It is great having only one person to call.”  As a manufacturer of both stretch wrap films and equipment, Muller LCS is uniquely positioned to optimize load containment while minimizing film usage.

LEADING THE WAY

“Beverage distributors look at Hensley Beverage Company as a leader.  In terms of execution, Hensley Beverage Company knows how to run an efficient operation,” says Dan Schmidt, Business Development Manager, Muller LCS. “We have a tremendous working relationship with Hensley Beverage Company and understand how important it is for the company to not only deliver a pristine product but save on operating costs.”

“We feel like we never have to worry about Muller LCS or its equipment. They have become part of the Hensley Beverage Company team,” says O’Connell.

These solutions, the true result of a collaborative effort between the two companies, give Hensley Beverage Company distinct advantages to stay profitable and deliver quality product to its customers.