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Learn more about Stretch Wrapping Equipment
After you stack finished cases on your pallet you are going to need to unitize the load. This means tying everything together into a single unit so the cases don’t fall off. There are a couple of ways of doing this including strapping, shrink wrapping, and stretch wrapping. An excellent source on all these methods and more is this this booklet, Unitizing Goods on Pallets and Slipsheets from the US Forest Service. It’s available free online.
Stretch wrapping is the most common, almost standard, method in the packaging industries. It has several advantages over other methods: It requires no heat as does shrink wrapping The film is cost effective and readily available from a number of sources. It is similar to the film you use at home to wrap food but a heavier gauge and designed for this purpose.
Once wrapped, the film provides a weather and water resistant barrier to protect the products. It can easily be done manually using a handheld mandrel for the film roll. It can even be done manually with just the film roll. This should be avoided as it is a serious ergonomic hazard. It is easily and economically automated including full automation for higher speed and capacity requirements.
Many plants use semi-automated wrappers and these are probably most common. This is a typical wrapper design available from many manufacturers. The pallet is driven onto the rotating platform with a pallet truck or fork lift and deposited. In this example, an operator ties the tag end of the film roll to the pallet. Other options include using tape or a label to adhere directly to the case. In some cases, the film is simply stuffed between cases. After tying the film, the operator starts the wrap cycle. The table rotates the pallet, pulling the film off the roll. The wrapper automatically regulates the film tension to assure a tight wrap without crushing the cases or damaging the film. As the pallet rotates the film roll moves up then down providing the proper film overlap.
The number of rotations and layers of film are determined by the wrapper machine program. After the cycle completes, the operator cuts the film and fastens the end with a label or by tucking it under one of the layers. The film’s natural self-clinginess prevents it from unraveling. When higher speeds are needed, fully automatic machines may be used. In this fully automatic machine, instead of rotating the pallet, the roll is mounted on an arm which rotates around the pallet. The principal is the same other than the rotating arm. An interesting pallet wrapper is this portable robotic system from Handle it.com Instead of the pallet being brought to the wrapper, the wrapper goes to the pallet.
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