Across the value chain, mills, fabricators and metal service centers remain focused on safety and productivity. The efficient transport and load containment of tubes, pipes, sheets, coils, and other standard and irregularly sized products is an on-going concern for companies of all sizes.
Steel or plastic strapping and stretch wrapping remain industry mainstays. Ranging from manual, semi-automatic and automatic application, companies take into account myriad limbs on their decision trees: current-use scenarios, on-site personnel, throughput requirements, and the nature of finish coats and product sensitivity.
Signode Industrial Group is a long-time manufacturer of equipment and consumables in both strapping and stretch wrapping. Its popular Yellow Jacket orbital stretch wrapper was originally introduced to fabricators to solve the unique challenges of securing oddly shaped, heavy loads directly to the pallet.
The horizontally positioned stretch wrap machine has a ring that moves around and under a load while it remains on the forklift, which optimizes the consistent application of stretch film much faster than in a manual application while achieving a better result. The machine secures complex fabrications, metal parts and loose assemblies on a pallet while concurrently reducing needed labor.
Here are a trio of reports from the field outlining the successes these companies experienced using the Yellow Jacket.
On the ball
Red Ball Oxygen Co. Inc., Shreveport, La., is the largest independent welding and industrial gas supplier in the Ark-La-Tex region. Most customers order multiple and varying-shaped and sized products. The company identified stretch wrapping as its best option to optimize pallet security.
In the past, the company hand wrapped pallets, requiring two employees per load. Since its adoption of a Yellow Jacket, only one person is required to wrap the same load in half the time.
“We have definitely saved time and money with the Yellow Jacket,” says Alex Kennedy, vice president, operations, Red Ball Oxygen. “More importantly though, it prolongs the good health of my employees.”
The hand application of heavy film rolls can cause back injuries, and employees can also injure their heads on loads or forklifts as they rotate around the pallet to manually wrap it. Because the Yellow Jacket is horizontally positioned, it reduces the potential for injury. The machine moves around and under a load while the load remains on the forklift, eliminating the typical ways in which employees can be injured during hand wrapping operations.
“Wrapping used to be the hardest part of the job, but now it’s the easiest,” says Herb Wright, warehouse manager, Red Ball Oxygen. “The Yellow Jacket simplified the job and made the process faster and easier.”
Searching for a new system to save time, money and man-hours led Waste Gas Fabricating Co. Inc., a custom metal products fabricator based in Fairless Hills, Pa., to choose a Yellow Jacket for its load containment needs.
The new stretch wrapper replaced the need to hand wrap more than 500 skids a week. Increased productivity and the ability to service customers more effectively were the immediate benefits. As with Red Ball Oxygen, a reduction in the potential for employee injury was also a big motivator when investing in the equipment.
Manual wrapping is a tedious process that can cause employee injuries. Lifting the 30-lb. to 50-lb. rolls of film every day and bending in awkward positions to apply the film can lead to back strains or pulled muscles. Waste Gas Fabricating, an OSHA “SHARP” certified company, knew the Yellow Jacket would eliminate employee injuries from hand wrapping and also help improve productivity.
“With the Yellow Jacket, we are now wrapping four skids in the time it took to wrap only one by hand,” says Kyle Cloman, president and CEO at Waste Gas Fabricating. “Coupled with the fact that the job can be done by one employee instead of two or three, we have already seen a return on this investment and paid for it in savings.”
Those savings also extend to consistent material use. With hand wrapping, there is the tendency to apply extra wraps to ensure stability, thereby increasing material costs.
In addition, employees naturally tire over the course of a shift. In the morning, when employees are fresh and well rested, they may be applying greater tension than later in the day as they grow tired and fatigued. The Yellow Jacket eliminated any inconsistencies from hand wrapping and helped Waste Gas considerably save on its film consumption.
“We continued to use the same stretch film as before, but the machine allowed us to cut our film waste by nearly 50 percent,” Cloman says.
Baker Tankhead Inc., based out of Fort Worth, Texas, faced production, labor time and cost issues during the shipping process for its tank heads. It switched from steel banding, a tedious process that frequently destroyed the wooden pallets, to stretch wrapping by hand, but this incurred decreased production and increased staffing.
Manual wrapping required three employees to wrap one pallet; one remained on the forklift while two others passed the film around the load. As soon as the company learned about the Yellow Jacket orbital stretch wrap technology, it purchased a machine, realizing production and labor savings.
Since then, the Yellow Jacket has helped Baker Tankhead securely wrap more tank heads, increasing production. The two extra employees previously needed to help wrap are now used in other capacities, such as preparing more daily shipments because the Yellow Jacket requires only one employee to wrap a load.
“We’re able to get more heads ready for daily shipping,” says John Asfar, technology manager at Baker Tankhead. “We don’t have to pull three people out of the make-ready department to palletize this one product. Only one employee is needed.”
Automated stretch wrap solutions have worked well and provided positive ROI for these three companies. Along the way, it’s resulted in the best option to keep employees safe and products safe and contained.