Automatic Stretch Wrapping
Every day that a company continues to manually wrap its products with stretch film, it misses an opportunity to significantly reduce its costs and its carbon footprint. Often, consideration of automatic stretch wrapping is based solely on the cost of equipment. However, examining the true cost of the manual process reveals that automatic stretch wrapping is an investment that yields substantial economic and environmental returns.
Comparing the film and labor costs, throughput and environmental impact of manual wrapping and automatic stretch wrapping provides a framework for selecting a cost-effective, environmentally responsible stretch wrapping solution.
Stretch film, which is made from various formulations of linear low-density polyethylene resin, is produced using petroleum-based resin. Ever-rising oil costs directly impact the films price. In addition to the cost of the film, its production, transportation and disposal have economic and environmental consequences. Thus, the more film used the higher the cost for the user and the greater the carbon footprint.
In manual wrapping, employees typically cannot stretch the film greater than 10 to 20 percent. To ensure holding strength and unit stabilization, workers frequently over wrap, thus consuming more film than necessary.
Automatic stretch wrapping machines enable users to take advantage of stretch film's maximum strength characteristic. Since the film is engineered to be pre-stretched between 200 and 300 percent, not only does this mean that every foot of film covers two or three times the area of un-stretched film, but is also means stretch wrapping machines ensure high performance from the material. Greater stretching means lower usage and higher savings.
Along with the decreased cost resulting from less film used, companies require fewer deliveries of rolled film and benefit from reduction in the weight of loaded and stretch-wrapped pallets. Both factors contribute to reduced energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions.
Ideally, recycling stretch film would contribute to additional cost and energy savings. This has not proven to be a viable solution for most companies due to the expense. Thus, the use of less film by stretching it between 200 and 300 percent is today's best alternative.
Labor cost and limitations
While manual wrapping does not require the purchase, use and maintenance of a machine, it does rely on the hiring and retention of a work force. Additionally, the use of manual labor means variations in wrapping consistency. Since the process is tedious, time-consuming and physically demanding, employees are subject to injuries from tripping, falling, and repetitive motion.
Even the most skilled employee's performance has speed and tightness limitations, which jeopardizes productivity rates as well as load security and protection. Manually wrapped products have a high risk of being damaged during shipping and storage.
Automatic stretch wrapping equipment requires little operator involvement, freeing employees for other tasks. Since automatic equipment performs at exceptional rates, throughput is dramatically increased. Some machines can wrap up to 100 loads per hour, which far exceed manual wrapping rates. Comparative studies have shown that total footage of film used per pallet drop from 178.34 for manual wrapping to 57.11 for automatic machines. In addition, 28.04 manual pallet wraps per roll increased to 87.55 with automatic stretch wrapping.
Application specific solutions
To achieve optimal results, it is essential to select the most effective stretch wrapper for the specific application. With a variety of options available, companies can choose from turntable or rotary arm designs, which are available in automatic or semiautomatic versions, or inline automatic stretch wrappers, which are available with a cost of options that can be configured to the customers' requirements.
Turntable machines, offered in both low and high profile models, process pallets on the machine's turntable.
With rotary arm machines, which are ideal for unstable or very heavy loads, loads are wrapped on a conveyor or floor. They also offer placement options that provide operational flexibility.
An ideal solution for a 50 to 100 pallet per hour production rate is the inline automatic stretch wrapper, which is integrated into the production line.
As organizations have transitioned from manual to automatic stretch wrapping, they have seen the economic benefits on their balance sheets. For companies considering implementing automatic wrapping, there is an easy to use online tool that will automatically calculate and compare current costs with an automatic solution. (Go to www.wulftec.com and click on the "Calculate Your Savings"Ã‚Â link.)
By doing an actual cost comparison and understanding ramifications of film procurement, use and disposal, companies can make a well-informed decision in choosing an economically sound and environmentally responsible stretch wrapping solution.
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