Waving goodbye to hand-wrapping in 2022
As companies grow, systems in the distribution centre inevitably start to creak. At some point a strategic discussion around automation needs to happen. But the wider conversation – one which can seriously boost productivity and returns in the long run – should also be about optimisation.
In our experience distribution centres tend to follow relatively predictable changes to growth. However often this growth causes considerable headaches and less than ideal outcomes. Small miscalculations and ‘close enough’ systems can have massive impacts on overall productivity and profitability. This means optimisation of future throughput needs to be front and centre of all strategic decisions – and it should be considered as early as possible in the growth cycle.
Our team has analysed numerous distribution centre designs. After careful analysis and measurement, they know the figures behind every pick-up and put down.
When hand-wrapping becomes inefficient
For any small-scale distributer, wrapping pallets by hand is a starting point. However, the process is obviously quite labour-intensive so it can inflate distribution costs while also increasing the potential for product damage. The repetitive and physical nature of hand-wrapping pallets is tough on team members and small incidents or absences can create stressful bottlenecks in production and shipping schedules.
At this stage companies looking to improve health and safety conditions for their people (while reducing product damage and labour costs) will generally begin looking around for a semi-automated alternative.
Why semi-automation makes sense
As a company expands so does the throughput. When smaller operators need to increase throughput, they usually move from hand wrapping to a semi-automatic stretch wrapper. This is a logical first step to cope with growth. Semi-automation of the pallet wrapping process not only saves time but also reduces pallet film wastage.
How full automation can often be the only way forward
As the need for faster and more efficient wrapping intensifies, so does the appeal of full automation. Large-scale distribution centres are likely to consider adding a fully automated pallet wrapper, perhaps two, to their pick-stage-dispatch flow. These DCs will often step up to the Wulftec range of rotary-arm wrappers – equipment that allows stationary loads to be wrapped quickly and securely no matter the shape or weight.