High volume, high speed stretch wrappers

Food manufacturers looking for pallet wrappers that deliver speed, reliability, economy and safety need look no further than the Octopus Ring Pallet Wrapper from Signode.

The last step of many food manufacturing processes, pallet wrapping helps ensure products are not only secure and ready for shipping but also that they arrive at their final destination in good condition.

Businesses which use pallet wrappers want the process to be completed with a minimum of fuss and without putting staff in physical danger. In summary, they are looking for machines that are reliable, accurate, fast and safe.

Haloila, a member of the Signode Industrial Group, has been manufacturing the Octopus automatic rotary ring stretch wrapper for over 30 years. With over 6,000 units installed world-wide, these high speed systems are capable of wrapping up to 135 pallets an hour.

“Businesses which use the Octopus want to achieve a higher level of reliability, whether to cope with their current demand, or due to increased production necessitating a faster solution,” Andre de Wet from Signode (the exclusive suppliers of the Octopus range in Australia and New Zealand) told Food & Beverage Industry News.

Fully automatic, the machines employ the “Octopus ring method”, whereby the wrapping film reel is suspended from a ring and it revolves around the pallet. The ring is raised and lowered according to the wrapping program.

Because the pallet remains stationary throughout the process, the system can easily handle unstable or lightweight products. There are no centrifugal forces to cause stress or strain on the load or equipment.

As the ring can be accurately positioned in the vertical direction, wrapping can be started and finished at any height required. In addition, the Octopus provides optimal load containment while optimising film usage.

“We have a range of different Octopus machines, in various sizes to cover different sizes of operation,” said de Wet.

“We can spec a machine to particular needs, by modifying the ring diameter to match the ring size and different rotation speeds and/or dual film application to match required production output.”

Reliability

De Wet warns against businesses opting for cheap pallet wrappers. “If people are driven purely by price they will get what they pay for,” he said. “Very often we go into a facility and see that the company has invested in a machine that is not delivering – at some point in time someone has convinced them that the cheaper alternative will do the job when actually it doesn’t.”

Reliable pallet wrapping is important because it sits at the end of the production line. “If it fails, if this area stops, or is slow, everything behind it is limited. Because if you can’t get it out, there’s no point in producing it,” he said.

Features of the Octopus Ring Pallet Wrapper include a load stabiliser to ensure unstable loads remain intact throughout the wrapping operation and an integrated top sheet dispenser which provides automatic weather-proofing without taking up floor space.

Optional add-ons include the “Logowrap System” which automatically inserts printed stretch film to a pallet load during the normal wrapping cycle and the “Octomax” performance monitoring system which is designed to reduce film costs, eliminate downtime and simplify maintenance.

Safety and service

“Safety is a big thing in Australia. When I came here I was truly impressed by the attitude to it,” said de Wet. “Octopus includes multiple features, such as the RCS automatic reel change system, that keep the operator away from the machine during operation without hampering production.  We also have locking mechanisms that ensure safety during maintenance and easy access to motors by driving the ring down to a comfortable working height.”

As part of the installation process, Signode provides training for operators and in-house maintenance staff. This includes direction in the safe use and proper care for the equipment.

De Wet pointed out that service is an important part of the equation. “The fact that we have a local presence across Australia and New Zealand also assures that we fully understand the customer’s requirements when setting up the machine’s specifications,” he said.

Another recent development in this is “Octoface”, a solution that allows the company’s experts to interact with an Octopus machine anywhere in the world over a secure Ethernet connection.

“The way the world deals with data and interacts with equipment has changed significantly in recent years,” said de Wet. “Octoface allows our customers to monitor their machines wherever they may be located, allowing access to useful information about the wrapper’s efficiencies and production rates.”

Fully automatic, the machines employ the "Octopus ring method", whereby the wrapping film reel is suspended from a ring and it revolves around the pallet.
Fully automatic, the machines employ the “Octopus ring method”, whereby the wrapping film reel is suspended from a ring and it revolves around the pallet.

 

 

 

Accuracy

Increasingly, food and beverage products are being delivered to retailers in “shelf ready” packaging. Spices, sauces, potato chips and so forth are packed by the manufacturer in branded cartons which are opened by supermarket staff, then placed directly on shelves for display.

“We just completed an install for a company in the food industry where the problem was damage to cartons,” said de Wet.

“The problem was that when the stretch wrapper was applying the film to the pallet, it was applying it too tightly and was corrupting the edges of the carton. They couldn’t find a happy medium between relaxing the film pressure, and still maintaining a safe product/secure pallet.”

Octopus machines were able to solve the problem by changing both prestretch of the film and lay on force. By getting both variables right, they were able to keep a stable pallet without damaging the cartons.

“What’s special about our machine is we can control that lay on force within a load, so we can start high and reduce and increase within one single pallet wrap. Our prestretch is very accurate,” said de Wet.

ICA keeps the Coopers flowing

Recently, Industrial Conveying (Aust) completed a project for glass bottle manufacturer Orora Glass. Warehouse manager Darren Boswell said ICA was the obvious choice when faced with a logistics and materials handling problem.

“Our client, Coopers Brewery, installed a system to automate the removal of packaging from the pallets with a robot that cuts the straps. This presented us with a problem because Coopers then required the pallets to be delivered without the stretch wrap that supports the straps.” 

Boswell explained that Orora’s trailers were not engineered to deliver the quantity of bottles required by Coopers without that stretch wrap in place. As a result, the pallets – each containing 4400 glass bottles – were collapsing in transit. The cost of both clean up and replacement was significant.

After purchasing new trailers engineered to support the load, Orora found the loading docks needed to be modified to fit the trailer dimensions. Without these modifications, the loading and unloading of the trailers added 40 minutes of manual handling time to each load.

“We engaged ICA to go onsite and look at the problem. Not only were they the OEM for the docks, but having worked with them before we were confident in their expertise.”

ICA has a long history in the beverage industry, with many clients now using roll-on roll off docks to automate the loading and unloading of pallets. This optimises efficiency by reducing the time required to complete the task from 40 minutes to as little as five minutes. It also enables staff to be redeployed to other areas of the business, maximising productivity.

ICA General Manager Bruce Granger said the idea is to automate docks so virtually no manual handling is involved.
 
"The less handling, the better the return per truck trip.  When you take into consideration that most depots have the capacity to load and unload on a 24/7 basis, over the course of each financial year our clients see very significant returns.”

As well as the financial benefits of modifying the docks to fit the trailers, Boswell said there were three key performance indicators used to quantify the success of the project: fast turnaround time, minimal disruption to deliveries and a willingness to work around the client. 

“Knowing that ICA is an Australian company with a network of local suppliers gave us the confidence that we could get this done with minimal fuss. ICA sent its team to South Australia on the weekends to complete the work in between deliveries. The process was faultless from concept to completion.”