One of the most reliable ways to improve production and accuracy in your warehouse or distribution center is to invest in top-of-the-line stretch wrap machines. But even though stretch wrappers can do a lot on their own, they can’t do everything themselves. They don’t know what kind of film to use, for example, and can’t clean or maintain themselves.
That’s where operators come in. Do you feel like your wrapping process isn’t as efficient as it could be? Here’s a six-step guide to effective stretch wrapping to help you get the most out of your machines.
Reasons To Use a Stretch Wrapper
Some businesses choose to hand wrap their loads. For smaller businesses, this method of wrapping can work fine. But for businesses that wrap more than 10 loads a day, hand wrapping is ineffective and can cost valuable time and money. Machine wrapping comes with numerous benefits over hand wrapping loads. It’s faster and more accurate, for instance. It can also:
- Reduce film costs by pre-stretching film
- Protect loads against damage by wrapping them with the right containment force
- Protect your employees from ergonomic injuries
There are countless reasons to swap to stretch wrap machines. Any business that switches from hand wrapping to machine wrapping should take the time to train their employees on how to use the new machines safely and efficiently. This comprehensive six-step guide to effective stretch wrapping can help with the latter.
Six Steps To Effective Stretch Wrapping
Can you really improve the effectiveness of your stretch wrappers with six simple steps? You sure can. Here’s what those six all-important steps are.
The Right Machine
The right machine can make all the difference. There’s more than one kind of stretch wrap machine and choosing the one best suited to your loads is the first step to effective stretch wrapping. Generally, stretch wrappers fall into one of two categories: semi-automatic or fully automatic.
Semi-automatic machines require an operator to attach film to the load, cut the film at the end of the wrap cycle, and perform other basic tasks such as adjusting settings and pressing buttons. This kind of machine is best for businesses with a lower output volume. Automatic machines require almost no human intervention. This makes them ideal for warehouses and distribution centers with a higher output volume.
On top of that, there are several configurations to choose from. Some of the most popular include turntable, rotary arm, horizontal, and portable. Turntables are good for loads of most sizes and shapes. They’re limited by the weight of the load since they sit on the spinning turntable; the load’s height will let the film carriage go as high as the machine mast allows. Rotary arms are designed to handle loads that are too heavy or light for turntables to wrap. Horizontals are ideal for large and irregularly shaped loads such as doors, windows, cabinets, carpet, and long pipes. Portable machines are great space and time-savers. They eliminate the need to take all loads to a set point in the warehouse.
Make sure to purchase your machine from a trusted manufacturer that offers warranties and support (comprehensive manuals, live chats, same-day or next-day part replacement, etc.).
Maintain Your Stretch Wrappers
An unmaintained stretch wrap machine is an unproductive stretch wrap machine. Maintaining your machines is crucial if you want them to operate at peak performance. To ensure your machines stay in good condition, you should regularly:
- Clean the entire machine (including sensors)
- Inspect the rotating mechanisms for film build-up
- Lubricate grease points (bearings, bushing, chains, etc.)
The Right Film
The kind of film you use is just as important as the kind of stretch wrapper you use. If you’re using a power pre-stretch machine, you’ll need machine film. If you have a core brake machine or a machine that doesn’t pre-stretch film, you can use hand film or machine film. You’ll also need to choose the right gauge (or thickness). Robopac’s TechLab allows you to send your products in for testing to better understand which film gauge you should be using.
It’s important to always choose a high-quality film. Low-quality films are less expensive, but that’s because they don’t run, wrap, or protect as well as high-quality wraps. The better the wrap, the better it protects your products against damage.
The Right Containment Force
What’s containment force? It’s what holds pallet loads together. Containment force is essential if you want to minimize damage to loads. You can measure containment force by multiplying the number of revolutions of film and wrap force tightness at multiple points across the load (top, middle, and bottom). To find the correct containment force for your load, look at recommendation charts or use tools available online.
Lock the Load
There are several ways to lock a load. Some recommend wrapping the load to the bottom of the pallet, but this can cause problems when the load is picked up by a pallet jack or a forklift. In order to pick up the load, these machines need to insert prongs into the bottom of the pallet. But if the load is wrapped to the bottom, the prongs will need to perforate the film to pick it up. This can compromise the containment force.
The best way to lock your loads to the pallet is to use the last bit of stretch wrap to create a cable or “rope” and then drive it below the top deck boards. This secures the load and ensures that pallet jacks and forklifts can pick up the load without piercing the film rope.
Check for Film Tails
Always take time to make sure the film tail (the final bit of stretch film at the end of the load) isn’t hanging down. Tuck it in or remove it before moving the load. Otherwise, the film tail can get caught on conveyors, forklifts, and other warehouse equipment, which can cause it to unravel or the load to collapse. This can damage or destroy the load. It can also break machines and be a hazard to workers.
Robopac USA is a leading stretch wrap machine manufacturer and the largest secondary packaging equipment company in the world. Whether you need stretch wrappers, palletizers, packers, or laser-guided vehicles for your warehouse or distribution center, we’ve got your back. Many of our machines have innovative R-Connect available. R-connect allows you to monitor and control your machines remotely for potential issues, film consumption, and efficiency. Shop with us today or contact one of our experts with any questions!