Many manufacturers in 2021 saw increased demand, supply chain shortages, labor shortages, and let’s not forget the ever-present threat Coronavirus had on keeping your doors open. Whether you’ve jumped one or all of these hurdles, one thing is for sure… 2021 has left us all saying, ‘oh brother, what’s next!?’ 2022 as yet remains shrouded in mystery, so to quell your anticipatory anxiety, here are two DO’s and two DON’Ts that the experts at Best Packaging recommend to help you ‘baton the hatches’ to your end of line and prepare for whatever comes next.
Fall behind on Preventative Maintenance
When you’re constantly adapting to new circumstances, everyday maintenance tends to fall by the wayside. But that’s precisely when it is needed most! Failure to regularly clean, lube and exchange worn parts can escalate a minor breakdown to a total catastrophe. Consider boosting your PM plan with performance monitoring technology. By combining line counter data with hands-on technician experience, you’ll get the clearest insight to predict wear and tear issues.
Overspend on Disposables
Disposables like stretch film, tape, and corrugate are called such because they are intended to be used once and thrown away. When you spend more than you need on single-use materials, you are essentially just throwing your money away! This happens when case tapers require more than one pass, when stretch film is so thin that it requires additional wraps, or when your cases are thicker than necessary for your application. Getting the right thickness or tension is a delicate science best left to an expert. Find out where you could be saving money by having our team of production line designers (and an ASTM contributor!) audit your plant for inefficiencies.
Integration doesn’t JUST mean robots. Advancements in manufacturing technology have steadily been picking up steam over the past few years. The infrastructure is finally available to make Industry 4.0 technology not only feasible for the average manufacturer, but affordable too. Take a few baby steps into the vast realm of IIOT (Industrial Internet Of Things) by implementing sensor automation with PLC integration to your existing equipment.
Take Care of Your Team
At a time when labor is scarce and employee welfare is ever the subject of public scrutiny, consider what you could be doing to improve plant safety or reduce the strain on your machine operators and material handlers. For example, graduating to a semi-automatic packing system, like a Wexxar Bel 507 & 150 combo that features a tilted packing station for better ergonomics could increase your packages per minute and still keep your valued workforce comfortable while performing repetitive motions.
If you are interested in exploring any of the solutions we suggested above, we’d love to get in touch! Or, if you need something more specific, Best Packaging is happy to assess your current production line to create a more personalized recommendation for improvements to your system. Contact us for more info!
Using a generous amount of shrink-wrapping film might seem harmless or even the right thing to do. Better to overestimate, than underestimate when it comes to sizing, right? Wrong! Over time, you may experience shrinking profits as your materials costs increase. In fact, it’s better to simply get it right the first time.
Nailing down your shrink film measurements is easier than you might think. Finding the proper film width and length will depend on what type of film you are using. You will need to know a few facts and measurements before calculating your shrink film dimensions. In this article, all measurements are in inches.
- Orientation/flow through shrink tunnel (This will inform which side is your product length vs your width)
- Type of machine (this will dictate what type of film you need)
- Production/Conveyor Speed
- Product dimensions (always round up to the nearest inch)
- Width: parallel to the cut-off or cross seal
- Length: parallel to the fold of the film, in cases of centerfold film
- Height: In cases of products with uneven surfaces, the height should be considered from the bottom to the highest point of the package
The most common forms of shrink wrap film are tubing, centerfold film, and shrink wrap bags. Conveniently, there is a formula to calculate the proper measurements for each kind.
Centerfold: Combine the height and the width of the item, then add 2-3 inches of wiggle room. (3 for larger items only). The formula for this is H+W+2.
Tubing: Tubular shrink film is typically only used for oblong objects. To determine the width of your shrink film tube, multiply the circumference of your object by 1.15, then divide your total by 2. In other words, (CIR×1.15)÷2. As for the length of your shrink wrap tube, simply add 2-3 inches to the length of the object.
Shrink Bag: For most applications, bags are the most beginner-friendly solution to shrink wrapping. They are already sealed on 3 of the 4 sides, which makes packaging your item simpler. To find the right width for your shrink bag, follow this formula: (CIR×1.13)÷2. As with our previous examples, the length of your shrink bag should be the length of your object, plus 2-3 inches.
Every application is different and finding the right size film can be even more difficult when your item is an irregular shape. When in doubt, ask an expert. Every service technician at Best Packaging is trained in shrink wrapping procedure. During your next visit, ask a technician to take a look at your shrink wrapping line and your product to get a shrink film recommendation.
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Today, Best Packaging observes Manufacturing Day! MFG Day, as it’s known, is an industry wide campaign to highlight career paths in manufacturing. We feel it is important to educate the public on the role manufacturers play in our everyday lives. Consider the chair you may be sitting in, or the cup you may be drinking from… Did you know?
There are 4 general types of manufacturing processes…
Casting and Molding:
Generally speaking, this is the process of forming raw materials (typically liquids or powders) into a desired shape. In this process, the shape is determined by a mold, or an outer layer that the material is pushed against. Materials, often metals and plastics, are formed through the process of injection molding, blow molding, compression molding, or rotational molding.
Often times manufacturing involves the use of heavy duty machinery. If the fabrication of a finished good involves, cutting, drilling, grinding or otherwise removing parts from the whole using industrial equipment, this is considered machining.
Casting new shapes and using machines to take parts from a whole can only get you so far. Eventually the pieces need to be put together, and that’s where joining comes in. Some joining processes, like welding, require heat. Other common forms of joining include fastening (nails, screws, staples) or adhesive bonding.
Sheering and Forming:
Sheering, also known as die-cutting, is a two dimensional, reductive process with a specific shape in mind. Consider this like a highly sophisticated cookie cutter. Forming is the process of obtaining the required shape and size of a material by subjecting the raw material to stress, such as temperature changes, mechanical or electromagnetic force.
Using the processes outlined above, manufacturers typically have one of three end goals:
MTO (Made to Stock)
This is, essentially, any product you can go to a store and buy. Items are manufactured to maintain a certain level of inventory, without a specific end-user in mind.
MTA (Make to Assemble)
Manufacturers keep components on hand, but manufacturing of the finished good does not start until an order is placed. These items are made to fulfill a specific order, but since they use components from their stock, there is little to no room for customization.
MTO (Made to Order)
MTO manufacturers create items to customer specifications after they are ordered. For MTO products, many manufacturers may not be triggered to order certain components until after an order is placed.
Common Careers in Manufacturing
Assemblers and fabricators put together pieces of products and/or assemble finished products. They use their hands, as well as tools and machines. Most assemblers and fabricators work in manufacturing plants. Most of these positions require a high school diploma, but many employees can get on-the-job training.
Machinists and tool-and-die makers set up, maintain, and operate computer and mechanically-operated machines used to create parts for the manufacturing process. These positions require training, either in apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, or community or technical colleges. These employees also receive lots of on-the-job training.
Mechanical or Robotics Engineer
Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, or test various systems, including automation, intelligent systems, smart devices, or industrial systems control. Mechanical engineers design other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in robotics or mechanical engineering is needed.
Production managers oversee the day-to-day operations at manufacturing plants. They ensure that production stays on schedule, they hire and manage workers, and they fix any production problems. Many production managers will have a bachelor’s degree, typically in business or industrial engineering.
Quality Control Inspector
Quality control inspectors monitor quality standards for nearly all manufactured products, including foods, textiles, clothing, glassware, motor vehicles, electronic components, computers, and structural steel. Specific job duties vary across the wide range of industries in which these inspectors work. Typically a high school diploma or equivalent is required. Some rolls require Quality Control Certification as well.
Did you know there were approximately 592,000 manufacturing jobs in our home state of Illinois last year? Learn more about the local impact of this industry by visiting the National Association of Manufacturer’s webpage. https://www.nam.org/state-manufacturing-data/2020-illinois-manufacturing-facts/
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Monday morning. You go to flip the power switch to your stretch wrapper only to find it is DOA. Two service repairs for this machine in 6 months and it’s creeping up to the 10-year mark.
Is it time to pitch it and get a new one? Let us walk you through how to make this determination.
There are five key factors that should be considered about your fickle machine:
- Maintenance History
Understand that the information on these factors is best interpreted as a whole, as opposed to each specific element on its own.
Age: How old a stretch wrapper is, needs to be considered. As a general statement, as a piece of equipment ages, the cost of ownership will increase. Warranties typically expire within the first three years of ownership and after the first five years of use, it is not uncommon to start seeing major component failure/replacement. Additionally, the ongoing changes in technology can have an impact on the useful life of your equipment. Lastly, as a stretch wrapper ages, parts availability may become scarcer which will increase repair costs and increase downtime.
Environment: Based on what type of environment a stretch wrapper is required to work in does have a significant effect on its longevity. Work areas with caustic or extreme environments will need to be cycled out more frequently and will be more expensive to repair. It goes without saying but there is a big difference between a ten-year-old stretch wrapper that is working in a freezer vs. a stretch wrapper that is used in a distribution building. Film stretches much differently in a cold environment, changing how well a pallet is wrapped and how much film is used. Knowing what the life expectancy is of equipment in your specific environment is necessary when asking the repair vs. replace question.
Application: Arguably this category could fall under work environment, but the fundamental difference is the environment is “where” the stretch wrapper is being used whereas application is more the “how” it’s being used. For example, utilizing a pallet truck to load and unload tractor-trailers filled with maximum capacity pallets would have more wear and tear occur than using a pallet truck to transport light loads from one side of a facility to another over smooth concrete floors
Usage: Total hours of use on a stretch wrapper is like an odometer on a passenger car. The question that may come up with a car with high miles would be “should I replace my transmission on my 200,000-mile car or is it time to buy a new one”. The same thing could be said about stretch wrapper rotations. The problem is you must consider more than just the high miles, and this is where the application factor comes into play. As mentioned earlier, the whole of the factors is greater than the individual parts.
Maintenance History: The last factor that also needs to be considered is total maintenance history. It is critical to be aware of the maintenance history when asking the repair vs. replace question and has to do with more than just maintenance cost. You need to be aware of what type of maintenance has been done. Has the stretch wrapper been on an ongoing scheduled maintenance plan? Has this wrapper had a history of damage from forklifts? What major components have been repaired? Is there a history of intermittent issues? What have been the most common repairs? All these factors will help determine if it’s time to continue repairing or if it’s time for a replacement.
Making the decision to repair or replace is an important part of ensuring your end of line packaging equipment is operating at optimum cost and performance. Understanding all the elements that both make and drive overall cost of ownership will ensure that when the time comes you are making the best decision. The key to doing this effectively is not to look at each factor individually but how all of them come together in your specific operation. Understanding what exactly those factors are and the relationship between each will ensure you are making the best decision when the time comes to make the decision on whether to repair or replace.
Let Best Packaging help you by evaluating your stretch wrapper(s), or any other aging packaging equipment you have on your line. Contact us at 888-930-BEST for more details.
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When your end of line goes down, often times the unplanned downtime can cause a delay in production which leads to lost opportunities.
Fortunately for you, maintaining your equipment doesn’t always require a technician. Inspecting your equipment is like getting regular checkups at the doctor. They keep you healthy and give you (and the experts) a chance to catch anything serious before it becomes a major problem. That can save you thousands for your end of line.
Here are some tasks you can accomplish to make sure your equipment doesn’t fail on you.
- When the machines are not in-use, remove any dust, dirt, or debris that might cause jams and issues in the future.
- When the machines are running, listen for any unusual noises. If you hear the sound of metal grinding, your bearings could use some lubricating. Be sure to perform this monthly in order to make operations more efficient and more reliable
- Make sure you’re not forcing products into machines and aren’t packaging products that your equipment can’t handle. Sometimes Operators don’t want to have to purchase a separate machine for larger, heavier loads so they might be pressured to use a machine that doesn’t support those specifications. Doing so will eventually cost you more.
It’s easy to take PM plans for granted- until a problem arises. Hence, we can’t stress enough the importance of having your machines inspected in order to keep your line running smoothly.
Should your machines require a professional’s expertise, give us a call at 888-930-BEST. Either way, delaying preventive maintenance or obvious problems, or sounds will inevitably lead you to more expensive and time-consuming repairs down the road.
Looking for a fast and easy way to check your stretch levels on a pallet?
All you need is a business card and tape measure…
- Once a pallet has been wrapped, separate a layer of the stretch film from the load.
- Take a business card and hold it against the stretch film on the pallet.
- Grab the top edge of the film and place your hands apart, based on the length of the business card so that your hands are on both ends of the card.
- Pull the stretch film slowly. Measure the length of the stretched film using a tape measure before it rips apart.
- Once you have the distance between the film break, use the information below to determine the stretch level*.
5″ = 280% stretch
6″= 250% stretch
7″= 220% stretch
8″= 190% stretch
9″= 160% stretch
10″= 130% stretch
11″= 100% stretch
Why is this important?
- Figuring out how much stretch your films has can mean the difference between spending double for the same amount of film or saving money by consuming less film per pallet. According to your calculations, if you are stretching less than 200%, you should should have us check your machine and film.
- If you don’t know how much your machines are stretching the film or how much you are paying per load, give us a call. We can perform a machine audit and provide a report on your machine performance, film cost, and recommend solutions to bring your costs down. A small investment in testing could save you a lot! (888) 930-BEST
*Disclaimer: All calculations are an estimate and do not guarantee 100% accuracy. It is the responsibility of the customer to establish practical testing based on their applications. Best Packaging Inc. is not responsible for the consequences of any decisions or actions taken in reliance upon or as a result of the information provided by these calculations.
The success of your operation often relies on the quality of your service technicians to keep your business operating when production volumes are high. It’s important to consider the following points when choosing a service provider that will keep your machines running.
A qualified technician will be able to repair a variety of makes and models of various machines. Best Packaging, for example, employs only the most experienced and qualified technicians. Our techs have 30+ years of combined experience in the field troubleshooting and repairing end of line packaging equipment.
It’s much more cost effective to maintain than it is to repair. Postponing the maintenance of your equipment could result in a sudden breakdown, forcing you to pay for a more expensive repair. Furthermore, when machines are down this interrupts your ability to do business. A good service technician knows that regular maintenance can make a line last for years. Best Packaging understands the value in preserving your machines. We can create a proper maintenance schedule based on the condition of your equipment to keep you operating optimally. We’ll set up a schedule that best fits around your production and advise when your next PM service comes due. Be weary of companies that don’t offer this service.
A good technician takes the time to do things right and has the customer’s best interest in mind. At Best Packaging, customer satisfaction is our driving force. It is our goal is to provide you with the highest quality service that is going to make your machines more productive and efficient. We are also a leader in innovative designs and we can tailor solutions to meet your specific needs. We’re not attached to one brand, so we won’t force products on you that don’t fit your needs. In fact, our knowledge of numerous brands helps us come up with solutions not conceived by many manufacturers. Choosing the right service provider can help prevent costly repairs and can increase your equipment’s life expectancy.
At Best Packaging, we do more than just repairs. We offer programming and electrical services, as well as retrofits and upgrades to enhance your packaging line while decreasing costs. We service all types of equipment, including stretch wrappers, shrink wrap machines, case tape machines, banding machines, strapping machines, case erectors, and conveyors. If you’re in need of end of line packaging service, call (888) 930 BEST to speak with a tech today.
It may seem like a good decision to hold off on making a large investment, however future downtime could end up costing you more than you think. If you are experiencing any of this in your wrapping process, it may be a wise decision to make a stretch wrap machine purchase.
- You’re wrapping more than 20 pallets a day. It would probably be in your best interest to get a stretch wrap machine because of the manual labor that is involved with hand wrapping. A large amount of bending and twisting is required in making sure that the entire pallet is wrapped thoroughly. The amount of physical work involved takes a lot of energy that employees will need throughout the day. A stretch wrap machine would not only speed up the process, but also free up the employee to accomplish other tasks while the pallet is being wrapped.
- You’re experiencing load damage because of improper wrapping. In order for stretch film to work properly, it has to be stretched 70-80% of its ultimate stretch. Ultimate stretch is what helps to hold pallet loads in place. When wrapping pallets by hand, it is difficult to consistently reach the amount of required stretch which could potentially lead to products falling over and cost more money.
- Stretch film costs are becoming too high. It is quite uncommon for workers to reach maximum stretch potential. which results in a lot of money being wasted on excess stretch film. However, with a stretch wrap machine, you’re able to boost the stretch rate and eliminate unnecessary extra revolutions of film being applied which could reduce costs.
- You’re having issues with employee safety. An automatic stretch wrapper would keep a forklift operator on the forklift which is could be an important safety advantage. Not to mention, a poorly wrapped pallet can fall over, resulting in damaged goods or injury to a handler. A stretch wrap machine could ensure worker safety by properly wrapping loads in a timely manner.
- You encounter inconsistent output. An operator who wraps pallets with hand wrap stretch film is not able to wrap every load exactly the same way, time and time again. Whereas, a stretch wrap machine consistently wraps pallets in the same way each and every time producing a clean professional finished product. Thus, if you’re looking for your pallet loads to project a professional image, it’s best to consider a stretch wrap machine
Eliminating any one of these justifies purchasing a stretch wrap machine. Let Best Packaging speak with you about a possible purchase and help you decide the right stretch wrap machine for your application by calling us at (888) 930 BEST.