Stretch Wrap Machines: A Buyer’s Guide
Protecting your inventory during shipment is a critical step to ensure products get to their destination without any issues. Not only are shipping mistakes costly, but they can ruin your reputation.
Adding a stretch wrap machine to your warehouse floor increases the chance of keeping your shipments safe and can help inject more efficiency into your daily operations. Let’s explore stretch wrappers and learn all about how they can benefit your facility.
What Is a Stretch Wrapping Machine?
Stretch wrapping is critical to ensuring the products on a palletized load safely make it to their destination. The tension and protection from the stretch wrap keeps product tightly grouped together.
But you can’t haphazardly wrap a pallet and hope for the best. You need to wrap your loads properly, or else they might shift during transit. This can cause damage to goods, material handling equipment and even workers.
Adding a stretch wrapper to your warehouse can add consistency to your wrapping and keep goods and workers safe. It can also:
- Help cut costs on materials and human-hours
- Decrease time spent on shipment wrapping
- Add efficiency to your shipping process
Stretch wrappers can take care of the repetitive task of wrapping palletized loads. They differ in the ways they wrap loads and what steps are machine-driven, but the end result is always the same — better warehouse efficiency, shipment protection and safety.
Types of Stretch Wrappers
Stretch wrap machines come in a few different configurations. The main variable you’ll need to understand to find the right equipment for your warehouse is the types of loads you need to unitize.
This is why having material handling equipment experts on your side can streamline the purchasing process. On that front, East Coast Storage has your back. We can walk you through your options, take stock of your specific needs and connect you with the affordable equipment you need to get the jobs done.
To help you along your journey, let’s explore the two main types of stretch wrappers you’ll see on the market today.
As the name implies, semi-automatic stretch wrappers take care of most, but not all, of the wrapping task. Workers will still need to load and unload the pallet as well as manage the operation of the machine.
Within the category of semi-automatic stretch wrappers, two main types exist:
- Turntable stretch wrapper — This type of stretch wrapper utilizes a rotating turntable. The pallet spins while the machine applies the stretch wrap evenly across the load.
- Straddle stretch wrapper — Instead of a turntable, straddle stretch wrappers implement a moving arm and a predetermined wrap zone. The arm moves around the load instead of the pallet rotating.
Fully automatic stretch wrap systems usually include a conveyor system to streamline the loading and unloading process. The conveyor will move the pallet into a wrap zone where a robotic arm revolves around the load, wrapping it securely.
A fully automatic system can add extra efficiency to your daily warehouse operations but tend to be the most costly option for stretch wrapping. They work well with fairly uniform product. If your warehouse tends to deal with non-uniform palletized loads often, a semi-automatic wrapper gives your team more control over how the machine wraps loads.
Hand Stretch vs. Machine Wrapping
While you can wrap pallets by hand using a specific stretch wrap, it’s not the easiest and most efficient way to secure a load. Hand wrapping is reasonable in environments where only a handful of pallets need unitizing on an average workday.
If wrapping pallets is a critical step in your everyday operations, a machine wrapper is vital. Hand wrapping can get the job done, but with some serious downsides:
- Slow — You can only wrap a small number of pallets one at a time.
- Not as secure — Wrapping a pallet requires uniform tension to stay safe. A hard task for a human operator.
- Costly — Human error at this stage of the process means damaged goods and unhappy customers.
In almost every warehouse environment where stretch wrapping pallets is common, a semi-automatic or fully automatic system is key to optimizing daily operations. Just be sure to implement best practices when using stretch wrappers to keep your workers safe.
In almost every warehouse environment where stretch wrapping pallets is common, a semi-automatic or fully automatic system is key to optimizing daily operations.
What You Need to Know About Stretch Film
A good stretch wrap system combines both the stretch wrapper and the right stretch film. When choosing the correct film, you’ll be flush with choices.
Knowing which film to use will not only help keep your pallets secure but also your equipment safe.
Types of Stretch Film
When it comes to machine wrap, you’ll often see a few choices:
- Cast stretch film — Cast film uses a specific extrusion process to create an exceptionally transparent and sturdy wrap.
- Blown stretch film — Made by a process called blown film extrusion, blown film tends to be one of the most sturdy and strong film options.
- Pre-stretch — This type of film is pre-stretched, meaning it won’t require as much energy as other films to accomplish load containment.
Those are just a few film types you’ll see on the market. In reality, you’ll find many more options, including specialty films, films for hand wrapping and other types like no-cling.
Understanding Containment Force
Put simply; containment force is the hugging pressure that keeps a palletized load securely together. As you might imagine, it’s vital to understand this concept as it will mean the difference between a safely secured load and one that shifts during transit.
Another related measurement to consider is the gauge. Stretch films will come in different sizes and gauges. Standard gauges range from 60 to 150 gauge. Generally speaking, the higher the gauge, the more strength.
By understanding gauge and containment force, you can determine precisely what size film to use, and how many layers of film a pallet needs to stay secure.
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Finding the Right Film
With all of these variables in play, finding the right stretch film can feel challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The weight of your load
- How you arrange the load on the pallet
- The size and shape of the load
- Your specific stretch wrapper’s film requirements
- Type of stretch film
If you can, explore the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific machine. You can also connect with material handling experts, like our team here at East Coast Storage Equipment, to help guide the decision-making process.
Where to Source High-Quality Stretch Wrap Machines
If you’re on the hunt for affordable stretch wrap machines, East Coast Storage Equipment is here to help. We’re the number one name in affordable storage equipment like warehouse pallet racks, industrial metal shelving and, of course, stretch wrappers. We’re always ready to answer your questions and help you find the right equipment for your warehouse. Contact us today to get started.