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Packaging: Refreshing solution handles mixed pallet loads

Beverage distributor uses an automated stretch wrapping machine and low-profile chain conveyor system to deliver securely wrapped loads.
By Lorie King Rogers, Associate Editor
August 12, 2011

As Arizona’s second largest beer distributor, Crescent Crown Distributing provides more than 16 million cases of beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages annually to stores, restaurants and bars in the greater Phoenix metro area. Knowing that success hinges on speed, Crescent Crown began designing its new 277,000-square-foot facility with an eye out for a stretch wrapping/conveyor solution that could maximize throughput levels of unstable and random mixed loads and minimize downtime caused by breakage.

The company had been using pallet jacks to move pallets onto a roller conveyor for transport to a stretch wrapping machine.  However, unsmooth conveyor movement meant pallets could shift or fall, causing jams that required the equipment to be shut down and the cases to being hand wrapped to maintain production schedules.

During the planning phase, Crescent Crown’s vice president of operations Richard Marchant explains that the company found that some manufacturers wanted them to change the system to match what the machines could do, but the systems supplier they chose (Orion, http://www.orionpackaging.com) looked at Crescent Crown’s specific needs and engineered a solution that fit the company’s application.

Taking into account specified load size, pass height, throughput requirements and available footprint, the materials handling solution includes a 7,500-pound capacity low-profile floor mounted chain conveyor with three rails, housing a triple strand chain that glides to move the pallets forward smoothly.

“Using a chain drive is unique,” says Marchant. “It has allowed Crescent Crown to improve its speed.  Each order selector is now moving 300 cases per hour, enabling the distribution center to process 25,000 cases in an eight-hour shift.”

The automatic wrapping system, which only requires human intervention to reload film, has significantly reduced labor costs.  And, because it uses 30-inch rolls of stretch film instead of 20-inch, the company has realized a 30% savings in material costs.

The new Crescent Crown facility is an efficient operation that accounts for 40% of the company’s business in Arizona, says Marchant.  “With the combination of the automatic stretch wrapper and low-profile chain conveyor, the return on investment was about 18 months, based on labor savings, speed, efficiency and reduced stretch wrap needs.  We’ve seen between 40% and 50% less breakage as pallets are transitioned smoothly into the wrap zone, which has led to one of the biggest savings—less machine downtime.”

About the Author

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Lorie King Rogers
Associate Editor

Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.


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