Pallet wrapping is an occupation that requires stamina, accuracy and resilience to the monotony of repetitive activities. Consequently, this is a bad job for humans. However it is a perfect one for a machine which doesn’t get tired or sick, always has a good stamina, can work at both low and high temperatures and doesn’t need holidays, salary or insurance. If you usually pack 60 pallets a month, you’d better take care of yourself and buy a manual dispenser. If wrapping 60 pallets is a one-day job for you, then a pallet stretch-wrapping machine can turn out to be the right choice.
Experts say that we are just witnessing the fourth industrial revolution. It has started with the development of the Internet and now it proceeds with rapid automation and robotics. The role of humans in Industry 4.0 will be limited to supervising and controlling a machine.
Even now you can buy a fully automated line which cannot only wrap a pallet but also can automate goods stacking, packing, palletising and storage. This solution is available only to big forwarding, trading and production companies due to the high costs. However, semi-automatic stretch wrappers which may result in quite tangible savings are within reach for most companies.
Rotating turntable, rotating arm and robot
There are two main types of technical solutions used in pallet wrappers. In the first type a pallet remains stationary while the arm with the film dispenser rotates around a load starting at the bottom of the load and gradually wrapping it to the top.
An alternative solution is a rotating turntable (platform): the pallet rotates around its own axis while a film dispenser moves from the bottom up along a stationary column.
The third solution is a robot, i.e. a self-propelled wrapping machine with a moveable dispenser. The machine moves to the chosen pallet and wraps it with the film.
Optimal film tension and costs
Regardless of the technical solution applied in a wrapper, the goal of its use is to optimise the entire packaging process. This may be achieved in the following areas:
- reduction in labour costs – a pallet wrapper enables labour costs to be reduced due to lower working hours and replacing human work with a machine;
- reduction in consumables – precise application of the film and the possibility of using pre-stretched film can result in film saving and thus consumables reduction;
- increasing the quality of wrapping – a pallet wrapper is more precise than a human – it can apply a properly stretched film not only more evenly and precisely, but usually quicker.
Even if the wrapper cost amounts to thousands or tens of thousands of zloty, the automation will bring about costs optimisation in the longer run.
Nevertheless, it is good to bear in mind that any form of wrapping automation should be preceded by precise pallet preparation. And pallet preparation means the optimal arrangement and packaging of goods on the pallet based on the results of the packaging planning algorithms. So, while investing in a wrapper, it is worth applying at the same time automation of the packaging and package arrangement of the goods on the pallet based on special algorithms. (“Tetris for professionals, or the benefits of packing with an algorithm”).