Stretch wrapping pallets by hand is fast becoming an obsolete practice, simply because relying on manual labour to protect your products from freight damage is unrealistic and not costs effective.Advancements in automated stretch-wrapping machinery and wrapping techniques has seen many organisations benefit from savings on production time, labour and packaging costs, all factors that are well worth considering the switch from hand wrapping to an automated system.

1. Time Consuming and Higher Costs

If your packaging requirements involve high volume manufacturing, you probably already know that manual wrapping is not an efficient solution. If you are comparing palletising productivity and turnaround time, we found that it took an average of four minutes to hand to wrap a single pallet compared to a semi-automatic pallet wrapper, with a wrap time of just under two minutes. There is no doubt that significant productivity increases can be seen with automation of your end-of-line packaging.

While most people think the initial investment may be too large you will be glad to know that even with a small upgrade to a semi-automatic pallet wrapper, it is possible to see increases of 100% or more.

2. Less Freight Protection

Hand wrapping pallets does not provide your products with as much protection from freight damage compared to automated mechanical wrapping methods. An automated machine has proven to use less film and consistently provides uniform wrapping techniques on every pallet.

It is understandably not possible for manual labour to apply even pressure and apply constant stretch force to every pallet to ensure sufficient load containment. Unbalanced loads and human error often lead to duplicating loading checks resulting in lower productivity for your plant floor.

3. Increased Risk for Work-Related Injuries

With almost all manual labour practices that involve heavy loads, the potential for a work-related injury increase. The protection of your employees is also lessened with manual wrapping and with higher risks comes higher insurance rates.

4. Higher Film Waste

It is well documented that automated pallet wrapping machinery reduces the amount of film waste. We have seen an average reduction of up to 25-40% in film costs when upgrading to an automated system.

While most people will equate less film to sacrifice in load containment protection, the exact opposite is true. Automated pallet wrapping machines have the ability to pre-stretch each roll of film with much greater efficiency than manually wrapping, which maximises the amount of stretch that is achieved. Automated or semi-automated pallet wrappers can achieve up to 250% or more in film stretch compared to an average 25 to 40% stretch when wrapping a pallet by hand. This type of pre-stretch technology in automation can save quite a bit in film usage and in optimal cases it’s possible to see 66% in film savings.

5. Freight Damage

Hand wrapping pallets potentially increases the risk of freight damage as it is not always possible to wrap consistently and with the same amount of manual force. Shifting pallets and improper load containment can result in significant losses.

Shipping damage costs are not always quantifiable at the time of loss. Cost related to damaged products, labour and production, cost of the pallets, film and wrapping expenses all need to be accounted for. The cost of original shipping and re-shipping the damaged products back as well as shipping replacements all add to the overall freight damage costs.

Even if you have supplemental shipping insurance, automated pallet wrapping provides consistency and reliability in securing loads which can greatly reduce the risks of freight damage.

The number of times a pallet is wrapped, or the gauge of the stretch film used makes no difference to the protection of the load, what is important is the containment force. For this reason, every palletised shipment load has a calculation to determine the specific load containment and wrap force that should be applied to achieve a secure load.

It has become impractical to rely on manual labour to consistently achieve the proper load containment to eliminate load damage and it is unrealistic to try and achieve the same cost savings as a automated production line can realise.

The hesitation you may have regarding the initial capital investment of an automatic pallet wrapper will most certainly fade as the long-term financial savings and gains can be measured.

For more information, visit the Melbourne Packaging Supplies website.