21 February 2017 //
by Matt Tresp
Switching to an automated shrink wrapping system can result in those making the decision to ask questions that run the gamut from the actual package design, to the energy bill, to maintenance and more.
Here’s a list of some frequently asked questions about upgrading to an automated packaging machine:
1. What enclosure options are available with shrink bundling?
Shrink bundling enclosure types vary depending on the application and goals of the package. The most common enclosure is a bull’s eye, created by wrapping two layers of film around the package and shrinking it down to create what looks like a “bull’s eye” on two sides of the package. This type of enclosure is good for unitizing multiple products when it’s acceptable to have openings on the sides.
Other popular enclosures are a total natural enclosure and total enclosure. A total natural enclosure is similar to a bull’s eye, except that the film closes together on the sides during the shrinking process. A total enclosure, with or without shrink, is created when film is sealed on all sides.
Single tight wrap, single tight band, double tight wrap, forming shoe total enclosure with shrink and forming shoe total enclosure without shrink are also available.
2. What type of film is used to create a final pack?
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) film is the most common film used to create distribution packs. Its flexibility and ability to achieve various enclosures not only hold a collation together, they also provide additional package protection, a dust/moisture barrier, tamper evidence and, in some cases, opportunities to add or enhance aesthetics.
3. What additional options are available with shrink bundling?
Alternative support options are available with shrink bundling when a product cannot sustain its own weight or when additional product support is needed. The most common solution in these instances is tray shrink, typically used for food products in bottles or jars. Trays can be preloaded or formed in the machine and can be low, medium, or high wall trays, depending on the application requirements.
Other options for products that require additional support include:
- Corrugate pads that help reduce overall corrugate material costs and accommodate tapered tubs to prevent rim wear.
- U-Boards that provide vertical support to products that otherwise could not withstand stacking without use of a case.
4. What are the benefits of using LDPE over corrugate?
LDPE film is a sustainable alternative to corrugate. In a study completed by Franklin Associates concerning the impact of plastics (including LDPE), plastics were shown to create fewer greenhouse gases than alternative packaging types, including corrugate. LDPE is also 100% recyclable and an efficient use of material as compared to corrugate shippers. Comparatively, it takes less LDPE to package products, which contributes to increased cost savings, material inventory reduction and lower transportation costs.
5. What does it cost to run a heat tunnel?
The cost of running a heat tunnel depends largely on the environment it’s in and the product being run through it. In general, most shrink tunnels made today incorporate features that minimize energy use and heat loss like silicone entrance and exit curtains, ceramic fiber insulation and dual tunnel hood/shell design.
6. Can we integrate ancillary equipment into the line without hiring an integrator?
Depending on your packaging goals, ancillary equipment can include a range of products and accessories that are part of your overall packaging line, such as infeed and exit conveyors, labelers, inspection systems, glue-dispensing units or palletizers. In many instances, the ancillary items are part of the overall design of your complete wrapping system or production line and hiring an integrator isn’t necessary. When exploring equipment options, it’s best to discuss your packaging goals with the manufacturer to understand their capabilities.
7. Can a shrink wrapping machine accommodate multiple product SKUs?
It’s not uncommon for some product manufacturers, such as personal care or food producers, to run multiple sizes of bottles or jars on one line. In fact, this is often an unseen benefit of a tailored equipment solution. Discussing your product line with an equipment manufacturer can help you determine the best way to manage changeovers, be that through tool-less, change parts, automated, scales, counters or set points. Depending on the complexity of the project, equipment can combine changeovers and setups. Other ways manufacturers can accommodate multiple product SKUs include multiple film cradles and automatic film splicing.
8. I can’t have any downtime on this line. How reliable is shrink bundling equipment?
When purchasing shrink bundling equipment, make sure the manufacturer is willing to stand behind its design and build. For example, EDL Packaging equipment comes with a performance guarantee that the machine will run as specified.
Another way to ensure equipment runs smoothly for years to come is to schedule and participate in installation and training programs offered by the manufacturer. Such programs help educate maintenance personnel so they are comfortable with performing general maintenance, and that they can perform work accurately and timely.
Recommended spare parts lists aid in keeping key high wear-and-tear parts in-house for quick maintenance. Should there be the need, remote troubleshooting can be added to pinpoint more technical issues and find a quick resolution.
Have more questions about upgrading your secondary packaging equipment? Contact us today to see how EDL can help.