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Stretch Film 101

Stretch film, also known as stretch wrap, is a stretchable film made out of plastic resin that is used to secure packaged items to one another. Typically, stretch film is used to wrap multiple packed boxes together that are ready for shipping. To get a better idea of what stretch film is, and the many uses it offers for distribution and shipping in today’s fast-paced economy, let’s discuss the different kinds of stretch film and their different uses.

stretch film spools

Hand Vs Machine Film

Stretch film can be broken up into two categories: hand stretch film and machine stretch film. Stretch film can then be broken down again into blown film and cast film. Hand stretch film and machine stretch film both have pros and cons when it comes to their respective usage. Hand stretch film is stretch film that is meant to be stretched by human hands. It’s typically loaded onto a handheld dispenser to make hand wrapping efficient and more ergonomically friendly. Machine stretch film is stretch film that is meant to be loaded into a stretch wrap machine that will then wrap goods automatically. Though both of these applications have merit, machine stretch film is faster, cheaper, and safer to use than hand stretch film. However, machine stretch film obviously requires more upfront capital to purchase the machine itself, as well as ongoing maintenance. Typically, hand stretch film is used when your operation is only wrapping a small number of packages on a daily basis; machine stretch film is better suited for large scale operations and cumbersome loads. 

Blown Vs Cast Film

Blown stretch film and cast stretch film are manufactured differently, resulting in different application use. Blown stretch film cools very slowly, while cast stretch film cools very quickly. Blown stretch film will stretch less with less give to the goods they are holding, but has strong tear strength. Cast stretch film stretches more easily, giving more wrap per roll. It is also transparent, allowing you to inspect the goods being wrapped. Finally, cast film will unwarp fairly quietly on the factory floor, while blown film will make quite a bit of noise. Before purchasing stretch film, we can help you take all of these details into consideration and make the best purchase for your operation. 

What is the Importance of a Properly Wrapped Pallet?

Properly wrapping a pallet is critically important for protection and security throughout transit. When you wrap a pallet with stretch film, you are ensuring that the goods inside are staying safe and immobile. If products are allowed to move freely, damage rates will go through the roof. Stretch film will also help protect the product against dust and other contaminants. However, if your load isn’t wrapped properly, you could be in for some trouble – if the wrap is too tight or too loose, products can get crushed, move around too much, or even rip right through the stretch film itself. Safety also comes into play when talking about wrapping pallets. A human employee can very easily be injured during the wrapping process. Having someone wrap a pallet involves the exertion of physical force. Most of this process includes the worker using their back to make the wrap stretch properly. Continuous stretching can easily hurt a worker’s back. An improperly wrapped pallet could also lead to loose materials falling and either breaking or injuring a worker. These are only some of the reasons why it is important for pallets to be wrapped properly, but how are pallets actually supposed to be wrapped?

How Is a Pallet Properly Wrapped?

Properly wrapping a pallet depends on a number of factors, but it mostly comes down to choosing the right film and the right equipment to get the job done. To decide on what kind of film to use, you need to look at the product. Is your product small or large? Are a certain number of revolutions required to ensure that the wrap stays packaged properly? How fragile is your product? Are you going to need to see it after you wrap it for any reason? The type of load you are shipping ultimately determines the type of film you need to apply. For heavier loads that need to be wrapped many times, you will likely need blown film that is machine wrapped. For something lighter that you may not need to wrap as much, you might find cast film that is hand wrapped to be a good fit. The type of film you use will vary from job to job, but ultimately the aspects of the product being wrapped will determine how it can be wrapped to ensure maximum security and protection is provided. As far as hand and machine wrapping go, there are a number of machines that we represent to automate the entire stretch wrapping process.

How Can Stretch Wrapping Automation Help My Company?

To get an idea if load containment automation (also known as an automatic stretch wrapper, stretch wrap equipment, or a wrapper) is right for you, let’s first look at the most common automation equipment associated with stretch wrapping. The most common machine used in stretch wrapping is a stretch wrapper, and they come in many different forms. However, they all have the same core processes, which are to set up the stretch film before a pallet is wrapped, and then to cut it at the end of the wrapping cycle. The machine essentially works in a number of steps. First, a pallet is loaded onto a platform by a forklift, then the platform rotates, bringing the pallet along with it. While this is happening, stretch film is fed tightly around the load. Finally, once the pallet is thoroughly wrapped up, the machine will cut the film. This is the basic function of nearly every automatic stretch wrapper, and even something as simple as this process can save your business tons of time and money.

stretch film wrapped on pallet

How Much Can Stretch Wrap Automation Save Me?

Having a piece of automated stretch film equipment in your facility will certainly reduce your film and labor costs over time. Running an operation that packages large amounts of goods on a daily basis is all about saving time, space, and money wherever you can. For example, the average automated stretch wrapper can save two minutes of forklift drive labor per load. Though it may seem pricey to spend a good chunk of money on a stretch wrapper, or another piece of automation, it will ultimately pay for itself. First and foremost, automation eliminates the cost of having to pay one, or multiple employees, to perform the tedious and taxing job of wrapping pallets. Once you have a machine in place, it can be as simple as pushing a button to get the job done. Second, human error is virtually eliminated. Automation equipment will never mess up its assigned task – it’s designed to perform the exact same job hundreds of times without error. A human worker runs the risk of being inconsistent, but a machine does not. Equipment will ultimately save products from being damaged in transit or from improper stretch wrapping. Having a piece of automated equipment will ensure that your employees stay safe and healthy, reducing the threat of potential ongoing worker’s comp claims. Investing in a piece of equipment will save you time and money, and keep your employees safe.

How Do I Get Automated Equipment?

We at Morrisette specialize in assisting business owners with the decision to purchase high-end automation equipment for load containment that is built to do every job with extreme accuracy and efficiency. Whether you’re looking to automate the stretch wrapping process of your business, or you’re trying to maximize efficiencies in other parts of your operation, we have equipment that can save you time and money. After an on-site audit by our team of packaging experts and engineers, we will help figure out what works best for you through our collaborative approach to packaging success. If you have a business or operation that could use a change, especially during the current labor shortage we are all experiencing, we at Morrisette would love to assist!

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