Casebook 2011: Stretch-wrap prototype passes its first test at Buffalo Rock Co.
Family owned Buffalo Rock Co., an Alabama-based Pepsi bottler, has the flexibility to make quick decisions. When given the opportunity to try-out an alpha model of a new stretch-wrapping machine (Lantech, 800-866-0322, http://www.lantech.com) in 2008, the company took the offer. After the new machine eliminated line stoppages and operator intervention, easily handled damaged film rolls, and increased overall film yield, Buffalo Rock knew it had made the right choice.
The key development in the new machine was a patented system that prevented film breakages. Far from being a source of trouble, the machine was so predictable that operators would often ignore the machine until it was time to reload it with the scuffed or partial rolls of film that usually caused stoppages on other stretch wrapping machines.
“The most important issue with any stretch wrapper is consistent output,” says George Garrison, general manager of manufacturing at Buffalo Rock. “Any stoppage requires immediate response from the operators. That’s just been a non-issue with this particular machine, and a first in our plant.”
With the new stretch wrapper, the plant has cut film costs while gaining valuable data. The machine is rated at 60 to 80 pallets per hour, but is available with a high-speed option for 80 to 100 pallets per hour. As it wraps, the machine monitors capacity versus true utilization, stoppages for starvation, blockage or film break, loads wrapped per hour, shift, day, week and month, and loads wrapped per roll of film. The control also reports how many pallets can be wrapped with the film remaining on the roll, allowing operators to budget their time efficiently for reloading. The machine easily consumes the film down to the roll core without any usual end-of-roll tears.