The mid-seventies saw a dramatic increase in the use of stretch wrapping machines. Prior to the 1974 energy crisis, the most common method of combining product pallet loads was to use pallet shrink bags. Workers placed a bag on a pallet load and heated the bag to shrink it to the product. While this method is still used today, stretch film is a more common method.
The use of stretch wrappers increased once the industry changed and companies began moving to stretch film to combine pallet loads. Many companies that produced sufficient quantities had to decide on the benefits of using machines rather than hand wrapping.
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The shift from manual stretch film to machine stretch film can significantly reduce the cost of stretch wrapping materials. In the vast majority of cases, hand-wrapped workers do not get the maximum stretch potential of hand-stretched film. Some film materials stretch more than 100%. If the worker applying the film does not achieve the maximum stretch potential, the film is wasted.
A stretch wrap machine can be set to a specified stretch rate to obtain consistent stretching and winding every time. Getting the maximum stretch rate enables more pallets to be wrapped at a lower cost. Stretch wrappers also enable companies to reduce the size of stretch film and lower costs. Since each pallet load is packaged consistently; thinner films can often be used while still ensuring load stability.
Several issues are mentioned in the material cost reduction section that can also affect product loss. When workers using hand-stretched film do not reach the maximum stretch potential of the film, the load may shift during transport. If the maximum stretch potential is not reached, the film will continue to stretch during shipping and result in pallet tipping and product loss. Consistent rotation and stretch rates around the pallet load will ensure safe delivery of product time and time again.
Loading pallets onto the machine via pallet truck or forklift and simply pushing a button can significantly reduce labor costs and worker fatigue. Anyone familiar with hand-packing pallets knows that it is labor-intensive and can be difficult to ensure proper stretch rates are obtained on the back side.
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Stretch wrappers are more efficient than hand wrapping in two key areas. By allowing the machine to wrap pallet loads, workers are free to take care of other things and prepare the next pallet to be wrapped. This improves overall workplace efficiency.
Stretch wrappers are also much faster than manually wrapping pallets. Depending on the settings available on the stretch wrapper, the machine may be twice or twice as fast as manual wrapping.
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