and actually gets tighter as it goes down because
it is being prestretched during application. The
stretch-wrap material is always trying to contract,
and the product is locked on.
How much space do we dedicate
to manual stretch-wrap operations?
The staging of pallets on the floor waiting to be
wrapped is a common sight in manufacturing facilities. In a fast-paced production environment, these
pallets can add up, particularly if the wrapping takes
about 15 minutes per pallet.
An automated stretch wrapper allows pallets to
be wrapped within a minute and placed on a truck
for delivery only minutes after that. Products are being moved through shipping at a pace that helps to
prevent a huge buildup of pallets on the floor, freeing up space for something else.
Some fabricators keep the automated stretch
wrappers in the area where pallets of products are
racked. The lift truck can remove the pallet from
the racking, drive to the nearby stretch-wrapping
equipment, complete the wrapping process, and
load it on the waiting truck at the nearby dock.
The equipment, which is about the same width of
traditional racking systems, needs to be only about
a foot away from the wall, so a lift truck can wrap a
4- by 4-foot pallet without interference.
Does our shipping department
struggle with wrapping awkward
or large loads?
Manual stretch wrapping of modest pallet loads
takes time. Trying to do the same with awkward and
large loads takes up even more time.
Automated stretch-wrapping equipment can be
designed to accommodate these large sizes. Standard equipment, with a wrapping area of 100 in. ID,
can handle loaded pallets as large as 5 by 5 ft. or 4
by 6 ft.
If that doesn’t work, custom machines can be fabricated, such as one with wrapping area of 154 in.
ID. At that size, the equipment has a split-frame con-
struction so that it can be delivered via the highway
system and fit under overpasses. It also has to be
assembled on-site, unlike standard equipment that
can be delivered and running in a matter of minutes.
Long loads aren’t really a problem as long as the
wrapping equipment is situated in a place that allows the entire load to traverse through the wrapping envelope (see Figure 2). Again, the lift truck
can back up slowly and the wrapping will continue
along the length of the pallet, no matter how long
Do our pallets require
total 360-degree coverage?
This can be addressed with automated material handling features (see Figure 3) attached to a
couple of stretch wrappers. For example, a lift truck
can deliver a pallet to the first wrapper, where it is
wrapped in one direction and dispatched to an exit
conveyor. From there the pallet goes to an indexing
table where it spins and is sent its way to the second
wrapping machine. Upon reaching the second unit,
the pallet is wrapped in the other direction. Once
completely enclosed in stretch wrap, the pallet is
sent down another conveyor for final shipping.
This type of system, and others with automated
material handling, can run entire shifts without human intervention. It’s just a matter of the pallet loads
and volume lending themselves to such a system.
Metal fabricators don’t have to live with packaging inefficiencies. Automation can make the application of stretch wrapping quick and easy, and it
provides complete coverage of the products on the
pallet to create a sturdy and safe package.
Tom Brizek is president and CEO, TAB Industries,
With the addition of automated material handling features such as conveyors and index tables, metal fabricators can automate packaging and reduce labor costs
An automated stretch wrapper can accommodate a long pallet as long as there’s enough room both in front and
behind the machinery. A lift truck driver can position the load within the wrapping area and slowly move backwards so that the entire pallet length is wrapped. When the end of the pallet is reached, the lift truck driver can
shut off the machinery with a remote control.
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