One of the questions we are often asked is: when is a good time to buy a wrapping machine?
The answer will surprise you. But the first thing we have to understand is the advantages of having a machine. The first advantage that everyone always looks at is the economic one. And it must be clear that it is much cheaper to wrap pallets with this equipment than manually and this is due to the performance of the product.
But there are many other advantages:
- Less injury to personnel. Wrapping pallets is a heavy and demanding task that can cause problems for workers’ lower back and hands. By having wrapping machines, these problems are eliminated and result in a better work environment, greater motivation, fewer absences due to disability, greater productivity, and therefore savings for the company.
- Uniformity of the load. Each person wraps the platform according to their criteria, which is often not correct. Machines can be programmed to have the exact number of turns and tension required; no more no less. A greater number of turns than necessary turns into material waste which is money misused. A smaller number of turns can cause accidents to personnel or damage to merchandise.
- Better aesthetics. Automatic films are made with more transparent and shiny resins. In addition, it is wrapped with less material which makes a better presentation. This is not only good aesthetically, but it also helps to better identify the contents of the loads and a better reading of bar codes.
- Longer rolls. This translates into less waste since there are fewer used rolls and therefore fewer beginnings and ends of them. This equates to less waste and less material damage.
- Less space. Automatic rolls have higher performance and much less storage space will be used. The square meters in the warehouses are expensive and this means savings for your company.
- Pallet wrapping staff can be dedicated to other activities.
- Best wrap:
a) The most important parts when wrapping a pallet are the top and bottom.
b) At the bottom, operators often do not wrap properly since they have to adopt a very uncomfortable position.
c) In the upper part, if they are very high platforms, for example, 2.6 meters high in some cases, they cannot be wrapped correctly. The staff does not reach this height and the film does not stretch and waste. This can also cause accidents during wrapping and transportation.
d) This bad packaging translates into a waste of material and expenses.
e) The risks of a bad wrapping are not only the damages that the merchandise may suffer but also the personnel in the operation and transport of the same.
So, we return to our original question, with what consumption do I justify the purchase of a computer?
As a reference point, we will take the price of manual stretch film at $ 30.00 per kg. This is a price for the purpose of the exercise, but remember that the higher the cost the faster you would justify the purchase of equipment.
We will look at three scenarios. In the first, the user uses 300 kg. per month, in the second 200 kg. per month and in the last 100 kg. per month.
Return on Investment of a Wrapping Machine
Typical savings when switching from manual to automatic operation are 40% or more. Considering the cost of the wrapping machine, you would recoup your equipment investment in 1.4 years. In other words, after this period the machine will have paid for itself, and then only the savings and benefits of having had this equipment remain.
Most financiers would say that a 25% annual ROI is an acceptably good one. If you agree with this, then when buying 100 kg. of stretch film per month, you are a candidate to acquire a team as can be seen in the table.
As we have said before, there are many machines, with many functions and many prices. You have to find the one that suits the needs of your product and production process.
Advantages of a Wrapping Machine
More and more companies choose to wrap their pallets with a Wrapping Machine. It is clear that the main benefit is economic: you save from 20% to 60% when going from a manual application to an automatic one.
In most industrialized countries 70% – 80% of pallets are wrapped by a wrapping machine. In Mexico, we have a bad idea that our labor is “cheap” and it is not justified, but the machine really pays for itself by using less material. But that’s a topic we’ve talked about many times.
This time we will talk about other benefits of using a wrapping machine:
- Best Wrap in the Most Important Area: one machine wraps perfectly well from bottom to top of the pallet. The most important part to wrap is precisely where the wooden pallet joins the load. And it is just the most difficult area to wrap by hand. And it is logical that this is the most delicate area: if the load and the pallet are not joined by the stretch film on the way there may be a serious accident.
- Wrapping the Highest Part: if your pallets are less than 1.60 meters high, you may not have much to worry about. But it is common to find companies that wrap pallets up to 2.60 meters high to take advantage of the height of the trailers in their deliveries. We see that they use sticks and other utensils made by staff to apply the film at this point. It is obvious that they are not wrapped properly, with zero tension and stretching of the film. A wrapping machine solves this problem of course.
- Application Force: a stretch film has to be stretched at least 150% for it to work properly. The personnel when wrapping manually rarely stretch the film more than 30%. This is not only a performance issue, it is also a cargo security issue. A wrapping machine stretches the film 200% or more if it has a motorized pre-stretcher. Note: for manual wrapping, the best film is the pre-stretched one that avoids this problem. More information by clicking here.
- Always Perfect Wrapping Patterns – Reality: No one counts laps when wrapping manually. Even people with the best intentions lose track of wrapping pallets and we can’t blame them – manual wrapping is heavy. To this must be added staff turnover, fatigue, etc. and it is very difficult to maintain an always constant wrapping pattern. On the other hand, with the wrapping machine it is always the same, always constant, always perfect.
- Control of the Amount of Film Applied: therefore, the amount of film used from person to person, from day to day, varies considerably with two serious problems: a) Using more stretch film than necessary causes a greater expense and b) Using less than necessary may have an accident in the transfer of the merchandise. This is also solved with a wrapping machine.
- Longer Length Rolls: Manual film typically comes in sizes 800 to 1,500 feet in length. The automatic film is typically 5,000 feet or more in length. By having longer rolls we will have less waste, less damage to rolls by hits, less theft, fewer cardboard centers (which is a problem to dispose of later), and less storage space.
- And we leave something very important for last …
- Happier Staff – Many people in the warehouse or docking area believe their job will be in jeopardy if wrapping machines are purchased. The reality is that unless the project is total automation of the shipping area (conveyors, palletizers, and 100% automatic wrappers) personnel will be required to place the pallet in the machine, start the wrapping cycle, cut the film and remove the pallet from the machine. The company wins by having a better-wrapped pallet, safer, and at a lower cost. And the staff gains by avoiding a very heavy physical activity. This translates to happier, more motivated employees with less absenteeism due to injuries.