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Pavestone and Muller collaborate to increase productivity and minimize costs associated with stretch wrapping loads

It’s not surprising that the concrete industry is tough.  From heavy loads and dust to extreme temperatures, the equipment required to run it must be as tenacious as the products.  Pavestone Company, a leading hard scape manufacturer, is all too familiar with these harsh conditions.  As a supplier to the commercial, residential, contractor, and retail consumer markets, the company’s concrete pave stones and retaining wall units are dropped, pushed, and shipped all around the country.

With 20 regional manufacturing facilities and over 250 million dollars in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, Pavestone must continuously look to its suppliers to help maximize efficiency and maintain product integrity.  Recently, the company turned to its stretch wrapping partners when it encountered several distinct challenges: increasing equipment throughput and flexibility, preventing machine downtime, securing loads more effectively and increasing brand awareness.  It’s rare that one supply chain partner can quickly implement a single solution – let alone four. 

Enter Muller.  The manufacturer of both stretch wrap equipment and film is uniquely positioned to provide diverse solutions to its customers’ daily challenges.  Pavestone’s hurdles were overcome with one multi-tasking system – Muller’s OctopusTM BP system, which includes the renowned Octopus 303 rotary ring stretch wrapping machines with Tail Tucker and Logo WrapTM enhancements.

“The harsh environment of our business necessitates that we constantly search for the next generation of packaging machines and solutions,” says Richard Tree, Vice President of Western Operations, Pavestone Company.  “We were in need of a reliable partner, and Muller stepped up to the plate and delivered.”

These solutions, the true result of a collaborative effort between the two companies, give Pavestone the reassurance that its products reach customers in prime condition. The system further decreases equipment maintenance, minimizes costs and reduces waste.

Stepping Up to the Challenge

Like most industries today, retailers are increasingly driving innovation through enhanced efficiency and safety standards in the concrete segment.  One example was in the demand to switch from simple straps that hold pave stones together to stretch wrapping loads on a pallet.  The new delivery method ensured products could be supplied more safely.  As these standards were evolving, Pavestone entered an aggressive growth phase, making it difficult for traditional stretch wrapping equipment to maintain performance.

Take the company’s San Marcos, Texas location, for example.  Three product lines exit through a single conveyer, meaning the stretch wrapper at the end of the line must have significant throughput.

“We knew we needed a high-performance machine to minimize downtime on that busy line,” says Tree.  “We tried several stretch wrap machines, but it was Muller’s higher speed Octopus that ultimately met the need.”

Across several other facilities nationwide, Pavestone has opted for Muller’s Octopus 303BP.  The cost-effective solution is adaptable to fit the needs of any size company – running up to 60 loads per hour depending on the application. The smaller footprint of this machine is ideal for the block and paver industry, and it can be easily installed over existing conveyers, reducing new machinery costs.  Like all Octopus machines, its simple design and high durability further ensures low maintenance.  In addition, the high performance pre-stretch design can save customers up to 25% in film usage over other wrapping machines.

Tucking Tails and Running Faster

A common issue with stretch wrapped pallets comes from the “tail” – a pesky piece of film left after the film is cut that can quickly become costly by unraveling the wrap completely and degrading the load. When tails come loose, they can also get caught in machines, causing downtime and requiring maintenance. Frequent load handling, severe storage conditions, irregularly shaped products on the pallet, transportation on open-bed trucks or stretch wrap film that has low cling properties are typically the culprits of loose tails.

“It’s devastating when an $85,000 piece of equipment goes down while preparing pallets for a million dollar client,” says Tree. “The maintenance, labor and plastic waste involved in having to get the machine repaired and re-wrapping the load also add up quickly.”

Until recently, there were few ways to secure the tail – securing it to the rest of the film with a brush, manually tucking it in or heat sealing it to the pallet.  Although heat sealing the film tail to the load is a better option than the others, pallets in the brick and paver industry are exposed to harsh storage conditions and left in inventory yards for weeks and months at a time. Thus, they require an even more reliable attachment. Muller’s Tail Tucker provides the solution.  Ensuring no more loose film tails, the Tail Tucker literally tucks the tail behind the last two full webs of film.  During the last ½ revolution in the cycle, the 20” web of film is formed into a rope.  As the ring frame moves to the top of the load, it pulls the rope behind the last two full webs of film and is released after it reaches the top.

“The Tail Tucker seems like a simple solution, but it allows our customers, like Pavestone, to produce durable pallets day after day,” says Mark Corder, Industry Manager for Block & Paver, Muller LCS.  “We understand how damaging downtime and maintenance costs can be for our customers, and that’s why we introduced this intuitive solution.”

“This automated system further enhances the integrity of our pallets,” adds Tree.  “The Octopus machine and Tail Tucker have eliminated our previously complex equipment configurations, reduced liability and minimized our total operating costs. We now save 4,586 pounds of plastic per year that used to get thrown away due to tails that got ripped off from a population of pallet bundles. The cost savings are not huge, but the social responsibility is significant in my view.”

When you consider that the customer can also eliminate re-wrapping loads, improve their pre-stretch and increase productivity, the material and labor savings can be substantial.

Built-in Billboard

Consumers are constantly bombarded by marketing messages, meaning companies have to hit multiple touch points before their brand is noticed.  Whether in a big-box store, on a job site or on the back of an open-bed truck, pallet loads are often visible to consumers but seldom differentiated.  Realizing a tremendous opportunity to increase awareness of its products, Pavestone desired to feature its company logo on pallets.  Pavestone first tried other equipment models with attachments for applying a company logo and even hand-applied bumper stickers, but with little luck.

“The original equipment we tried was finicky and not very reliable or cost-effective,” says Tree. “The bumper stickers were also not optimal because they degrade from environmental conditions and were hard to see.  It also added an extra step for our manufacturing team because they had to manually apply them to each and every load.”

When other methods failed to produce the desired result, Pavestone once again turned to  Muller to deliver a reliable, cost-effective solution. Because of its position to deliver both film and machinery, Muller responded with Logo Wrap- a new solution developed in collaboration with Pavestone to produce a custom film that featured the appropriate livery and could be automatically applied to the load.   

Similar to the Tail Tucker, the Logo Wrap is available as an enhancement on new machine orders or can be added as a retrofit to existing Octopus machines. It works by automatically applying the custom branded film as part of the normal wrapping process. Intermittent to the typical wrap cycle, the Logo Wrap film is applied at a defined location on the load. The Octopus machine switches from its standard stretch film to the Logo Wrap film where it is wrapped completely around the pallet, making the logo visible from all sides. Upon applying the Logo Wrap film, the machine returns to the normal wrap cycle and finishes wrapping the load. 

“Logo Wrap provides our customers with a cost-effective marketing outlet,” adds Corder.  “In addition to contact information or instructions for storage and transportation, we can now produce custom film that enhances both utility and visibility.”

Unlike hand-applied bumper stickers, Logo Wrap can also withstand the outdoor elements. From severe weather to dust, Pavestone can rest assured their loads are always identifiable and professional on job sites or on the back of its open- bed trucks.

“Because we ship on flatbed trucks, we identified a tremendous opportunity to reach important specifiers throughout the value chain,” explains Tree.  “Logo Wrap has turned our trucks into moving billboards.”

Conclusion

“Stretch wrapping loads is a requirement across numerous industries,” says Corder.  “At Muller, it’s imperative that we continually collaborate with our customers to understand their unique challenges and develop relevant solutions.  Our collaboration with Pavestone is a great example of how we’re driving functional innovation.”  

Over the last five years, Pavestone has installed the Octopus BP system across seven different facilities nationwide. The company plans to eventually replace the entirety of its existing stretch wrapping equipment with Muller’s innovative solution.

“I’m sure Muller would readily admit that at Pavestone, we have high standards,” concludes Tree.  “It’s through our strategic partnerships, like this one, that we’ve been able to achieve reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective solutions to our supply chain challenges.”