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How Shrink Bundling Film Impacts Unit Load Stability

How Shrink Bundling Film Impacts Unit Load Stability

Shrink bundling, the process where manufacturers combine items into a bundle bound together with shrink film, is a common practice in packaging.  Shrink bundling is often used when functionality or unitization is a priority over appearance.  

We see shrink bundling used for product distribution where the items will be separated manually before going out on the store shelves. 

Shrink bundling is used in a variety of industries including more industrial verticals like building products and flooring as well as with retail products like health and beauty, and food and beverage.

The shrink bundle may include a corrugated tray or pad to support the pack. But more and more we’re hearing from customers who want to lose the tray so they can reduce packaging materials, lower costs, and improve sustainability.

We’re also hearing requests to downgauge the shrink film in an effort to save on film costs.

Why is Shrink Bundling Film So Important for Unit Load Integrity?

As we got into unit load TruMotion testing for customers at the Packaging Solution Center, one of the things we noticed early on was the important role that shrink bundling film plays in overall load stability.

When we tested unit loads containing bundled products, we observed movement in the interior of the bundled packages on both the TruMotion Transportation Simulator and on the TruMotion Acceleration Sled. Because these packages are often bundling bottles containing liquids, they are inherently a more dynamic load. We could see bottles begin to move and shift on the load testing equipment.

We realized that if we could make the bundled packs more rigid and more secure, we would see more success in maintaining the unit load integrity in transit conditions.

So as we hear from customers interested in exploring more commodity-level shrink films, we can test the performance of those films versus more high performance films with the Douglas Shrink Tunnel and the TruMotion testing equipment we have at the Solution Center. We’re able to quantify and confirm the overall improvement of pack rigidity based on different film variables.

If you’re thinking about switching up shrink films for your multi-packs, or removing the corrugated trays or pads from those packs, make sure you come see us at the Packaging Solution Center so you can make smart changes with confirmed test results. Because the last thing you want is to make a change that maybe reduces material costs, but that causes product damage and increases total cost, time, and resources.

Be sure your shrink bundled multipacks are Fit2Ship. Schedule an appointment with us today.

How to Eliminate Strapping

How to Eliminate Strapping

We’ve talked a lot in our Packaging Insights series about sustainability and the goal to reduce the amount of materials used in packaging.  Companies are looking to lower costs, reduce waste, and improve efficiency.

To help achieve this goal, we’ve worked with many customers who are looking to eliminate strapping. 

We typically see strapping used in combination with stretch wrapping to secure loads.  So, if you’re going to eliminate strapping entirely, the stretch wrapping that was previously doing 50% of the work will now be doing 100% of the work to secure the unit load. It stands to reason, then, that the existing stretch film, equipment, and setup you have won’t be sufficient to handle this increased burden.

With the testing we’re doing at the Packaging Solution Center, we can look at the real life situation of eliminating your strapping and tell you exactly what it will take in terms of type of film, application of film, and equipment settings an the overall success you can expect.

Our mission is to give you a proven solution and implementation that will result in you having an even more secure unit load moving forward.

To learn more, schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center today.

Is Downgauging the Answer?

Is Downgauging the Answer?

As manufacturers look to reduce costs and improve the sustainability of their operations, they target their packaging operations to see where they can make changes. This applies to primary product packaging like pouches, cartons, and bottles as well as secondary packaging like stretch wrapping, shrink bundling, and strapping.

Early in this process industry-wide, manufacturers looked for opportunities to downgauge and move to thinner films. A lesser gauge meant less material cost and ultimately less waste once the packaging was used and done.

They found an opportunity for downgauging with stretch film and stretch wrapping. At Atlantic, we could help our customers achieve this by optimizing the stretch wrapping equipment and ensuring that the thinner film had the proper prestretch properties and was applied with the correct tension and wrap patterns to make it work.

And by “work,” we mean that the stretch wrapping with thinner film contained the load without allowing the products to shift or the film to puncture or break. Because the very purpose of stretch wrapping is to provide load containment and protect the products in the load, this was the ultimate goal as we moved to thinner films.

Fast forward a few years and what we’re seeing now is that the stretch wrapper maintenance and the ability to maintain the optimization set at the start of the downgauging is beginning to fall off. Customers who saw great success at the time of the change are now starting to see more failures and more issues arise.

That’s because this is not a “set it and forget it” kind of operation.

Maintaining the level of optimization and the complete solution that we’re providing through the testing and work at our Packaging Solution Center takes time, attention, and collaboration.

Once you achieve the goals of downgauging and reducing costs, you have to dedicate resources to continuing that improvement. And this won’t happen overnight. Equipment and parts deteriorate. Operators may come and go. And there are a lot of people who interact with the stretch wrappers who have the freedom to make adjustments to the equipment.

You need a plan to educate and train the workforce as well as a strategy for identifying any changes or developments that might negatively affect the performance. You also need proper preventative maintenance and tools for getting back on track if performance does slip over time.

So, is downgauging the answer to cutting costs and improving sustainability?

What we’ve shown here is that it’s part of the answer. The complete solution is complex, ongoing, and collaborative. To really achieve your goals, you need a long term commitment from different parts of your organization, including operators, management, and procurement. And you need a packaging partner equally as committed to your success.

Managing the Cost of Load Stability

Managing the Cost of Load Stability

When we talk about managing the costs of load stability, we’re talking about managing the aspects of pricing, effectiveness, and sustainability. These are all important factors in the equation of the load (See: The Balancing Act of Cost, Performance & Sustainability).

It’s always in accordance with smart business goals to keep material costs low. Now we have to find a way to do that while still delivering an effective product.  In this case, that means designing and implementing a stretch wrap solution that contains and protects the product without incurring any damage during transit or storage.  And, if we can do that by using the minimal amount of material, then we’re helping to hit sustainability goals as well.

By working toward these goals simultaneously, everyone in your organization – from executives to procurement and operations – is on board and confident that they’re getting the best possible solution at the best possible cost. Everybody wins. 

To learn more, schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center today and speak with our experts about your concerns.

Monitoring for Success

Monitoring for Success

When it comes to shipping products from the manufacturing facility out to the wholesaler or retailer, palletizing is one of the most impactful ways to create efficiency. Palletizing goods means you can move multiple cases as one unit, you can use forklifts rather than handle cases manually, and you can quickly load and unload trailers to turnaround deliveries.

Palletizing also provides better protection for the products in transit and in storage – as long as they are wrapped correctly.

Not All Stretch Wrapping Is Equal

When we first began working with stretch wrappers and stretch film many decades ago, we found that by providing the right technical service to keep the wrappers in good condition and by using high quality film, we could dramatically improve the performance of the stretch wrapping.

We could better protect the products, we could reduce overall material costs, and we could improve process efficiency.

But we also found that this performance can deteriorate over time due to a variety of factors. Equipment parts degrade and fall out of spec, for example, or new operators change settings when they have film breaks.

How to Maintain Performance

To help maintain the performance of the machine and the consistency of the film application over time, we developed the MUST Monitor. This device can be attached to any stretch wrapper and can monitor the performance of every load wrapped. The data from these loads are reported to both end-users and Atlantic engineers through the MUST Software. They are alerted when wrapping is out of spec and can troubleshoot to get back to optimum performance.

We released the first version of the MUST Monitor in 2008. At the time, we thought that this was the answer. This was the solution that would solve all the problems.

But what we’ve learned since 2008 is that the monitoring piece is a single factor in a much more complex equation.

The Managed System Approach

Today, Atlantic takes a managed system approach to stretch wrapping. We start at the beginning with a study of your operation – what products are you wrapping, how are they being stacked, what equipment are you using and how is it set up? Are you having any product damage?

We look at all of this in an effort to understand the problems you’re trying to solve and the areas where you can benefit from improvement.

From there, we can take your loads into our testing facility at the Packaging Solution Center and come up with a proven recipe of equipment settings, film gauge, and film application for optimizing your stretch wrapping. We do the heavy lifting of taking this solution from the lab environment to your production environment and implementing it on your own equipment, adding new capabilities if necessary. Our engineers and technicians are the key to making our solution actually work in your operation.

And at that point, we install the MUST Monitor to make sure that this investment in optimizing your performance continues day after day.

Full Value

When we think back to how we started this process – with the MUST Monitor over a decade ago – it’s so interesting to reflect on how this has all evolved. The monitor was the innovation that gave us the tools and the data to really see how our solutions were working inside the customer plants.  At the time, we thought this was the answer.

But it turns out that the monitor by itself was only the beginning.

Without the knowledge and expertise our team brought to every customer, the monitor was just a piece of hardware. And the data we gathered taught us even more about stretch wrapping, informing the way we conducted the initial audit. We learned better questions to ask and how to spot the real problems we were solving. It changed how we formulated solutions and ultimately led to our investment in TruMotion testing equipment and the Packaging Solution Center. It challenged us to implement better solutions in your facilities.  And it continues to monitor performance so you can reap all these benefits of this hard work into the future.

Cube Efficiency

Cube Efficiency

The efficiency with which you move products from one location to another – from manufacturing to retail, for example –  plays a big part in sustainability, inventory management, and overall process efficiency. 

Your challenges are to load the trailer with as much product as possible so you’re not paying to move air or empty space. You’re striving for cube efficiency. But you also have to make sure the products are safe and secure all the way through the journey.  If a truck arrives at its destination with damaged products, you’re then dealing with returns, reworks, and excess waste, all of which cost extra time, extra labor, and extra money.  

A new trend we’re seeing with cube efficiency for lighter products, like towel and tissue, is to stack the loads higher and maximize the height capacity of the trailer (See: Cubing Out A Trailer … Vertically).  This trend brings with it a new set of challenges to protect the products. You now have a new center of gravity with these taller loads and a new way they are going to handle the energy during transit. 

At the Packaging Solution Center, we’re able to test these new load configurations, understand the dynamics of the unit load, and help you find a solution for both cube efficiency and product protection.

Schedule a tour today and bring us your challenges!