Oversized products can be difficult to wrap securely for shipping. Just ask Surtech Industries. Surtech is a metal finishing subcontractor located in York, Pa., that provides polishing, powder coating, finishing, and packaging services for a variety of customers. Among the products it processes are long bar stock, tubular materials, flat metal sheets, and other polished metals that must be wrapped to protect their finish during shipping.
Wrapping these products was something of a challenge. "In the past, we had wands that we would put stretch wrap on and then hand wrap the products," explains Terry Spisak, the company's president. He says it was usually a two-man job that took about five minutes to complete.
Today, that's no longer the case. Wrapping has become much easier since Surtech purchased a semiautomatic Tab Wrapper Tornado, an orbital wrapping system from Reading, Pa.-based Tab Industries. The system automatically wraps protective stretch film horizontally 360 degrees around and under the pallet. (The horizontal wrapper works differently from most automatic stretch wrappers, which wrap vertically and usually don't wrap beneath the load.) The result is a fully unitized load that protects the product from weather as well as damage incurred in transportation and warehouse handling.
Part of the reason for Surtech's choice of wrapper was financial. "We looked at other stretch wrappers, but they were just too expensive," recalls Spisak. "The Tab Wrapper Tornado fit the need. It is a good cost-effective solution."
Surtech ordered the 100-inch model that accommodates a 60- by 60-inch skid and products up to 10 feet in length. (Tab Industries also offers a 40-inch model that handles 24- by 24-inch skids and an 80-inch model that accepts 48- by 48-inch skids in addition to custom-sized machines.)
The company also purchased an "automation" package that includes an automated cut-and-wrap device and a wireless remote that the forklift driver can operate from the truck. To wrap a load, the driver simply places it into the unit and presses the start button on the remote. Once the process is complete, the driver presses the stop button on the remote and drives away with the wrapped pallet.
Not having to leave the truck to wrap products has saved a great deal of time, not to mention labor (with the new unit, only one person is required for wrapping, instead of two). The process takes about a minute, compared with five minutes with manual wrapping.
Surtech has also saved on materials costs. That's partly because the Tab Wrapper Tornado wraps products more tightly than can be accomplished manually, which has cut down on the amount of wrapping material needed. It's also because metal banding is no longer required. Spisak says the company saw a return on its investment in the wrapper in just nine months based on the materials savings alone.
On top of that, the units are easy to maintain. Though semiautomatic, the wrappers are not complex machinery. They contain basic nonproprietary parts, making any needed repairs easy, according to Spisak.