Packaging Corner: How to pick the right stretch wrapper

When applying stretch wrap to a unit load applying stretch wrap to a unit load, many facilities rely on manpower. But wrapping by hand has its downsides, increasing the risk of worker injury and inefficiently using stretch film, says Steve Fleming, director of sales at the Wulftec/M.J. Maillis Group.

By ·

When applying stretch wrap to a unit load, many facilities rely on manpower. But wrapping by hand has its downsides, increasing the risk of worker injury and inefficiently using stretch film, says Steve Fleming, director of sales at the Wulftec/M.J. Maillis Group.

“Based on film costs alone, a machine can be justified within two years for a facility currently hand wrapping as few as 10 loads a day,” Fleming adds. “Plus, there are ergonomic and sustainability benefits.”

In addition to removing the worker from the process, stretch wrapping machines use rollers that pre-stretch film by three to four times before applying it. The load is more consistently secured with up to 50% less film.

“Film is a petroleum product, and its cost has increased roughly 15% since January 1,” says Fleming. Using a return on investment calculator will help determine the potential savings from a switch.

Those cost savings, says Fleming, often prompt a machinery purchase. The two basic styles are turntable, which rotates the loads as a static applicator feeds the film, and rotary arm, that uses a carriage that revolves around the load to apply the film.

To pick the right stretch wrapper for your application, consider the following:

1. Load configuration. Unstable loads—mixed pallets or column-stacked (instead of interlocked) cases, for example—are not stable enough to be rotated on a turntable stretch wrapper. Facilities that wrap multiple types of stable and unstable loads would benefit from the versatility offered by a rotary arm model as well, even though they’re more expensive than turntables.

2. Load weight. Turntables have a top weight capacity from 3,000 to 5,000 pounds, says Fleming, so loads weighing that much or more will produce a lot of wear and tear on the turntable’s drive system. Alternately, loads under 500 pounds are often too light for a turntable wrapper without special modifications that hold the load securely from the top. In both cases, a rotary arm model might be better.

3. Process. Wrappers are either fully automatic (self-feeding loads) or semi-automatic (loads placed by pallet jack or lift truck). Also, says Fleming, do you wrap loads throughout the day, or all at once at the end of a shift? Your process will help you pick the right machine.

Read more Packaging Corner.


About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Is Your DC Ready for E-commerce Growth? Here’s How to Handle More SKUs and Inventory Turns
The rise of e-commerce and multi-channel fulfillment has caused distribution centers (DCs) to experience ever-growing numbers of stock-keeping units (SKUs) and more inventory turns, up to an average of nine in 2015.
Download Today!
From the August 2016 Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
5 Emerging Technologies Enabling Competitive Advantage for Distribution
Come hear about the latest in each-picking robotics, co-bots, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, sensors, drones and droids that are enabling competitive advantage for distribution.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
The data-driven lift truck
Now that manufacturers and distributors are using the data from their automated systems to drive...
Destination Maternity: Destination Automation
Running short of space in its old facility, Destination Maternity Corp. built a new, highly...

Hibbett Sports: Faster, Flexible and Efficient
A high-speed conveyor and sortation system at Hibbett Sports’ Alabama distribution center speeds...
Necessity is the mother of invention at Quiet Logistics
Faced with the loss of a robotic pick solution, Quiet Logistics invented its own robots. Are they...