Shrink wrap is a bigger deal than many people realize. It has changed the world of packaging and protection since its inception in the mid-1970s. Some people have even made a business of shrink-wrapping objects as large as buildings and bridges.
For the business owner packaging thousands of products, auto shrink wrap machines can mean the difference between using labor hours on packaging products or developing the newest ideas in his or her industry.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about automatic machine advantages and how they can transform your packaging efficiency.
The plastic we call shrink wrap is a modern marvel of science. Many people dispute who invented shrink wrap, but we do know for sure it came about in the mid-1970s, making it a relatively recent invention. Shrink wrap is made of a polymer plus additives that can take on a particular shape when subjected to heat.
Most commonly shrink wrap rolls are made of the polymer polyolefin, but others such as PVC, polyethylene, polypropylene, and others exist as well. Extruders can develop shrink film to expand and contract in one direction or both directions.
The polymer consists of long, twisted atoms. Not any plastic works well as a shrink wrap because of these twisted atoms. Extruders will take molecules and extend them into a thin layer, making them perfect for wrapping around a product.
A machine or person will position the product within the material. The machine or person will apply a seal, then heat shrinks the film conforming it to the product. The type of film used determines how much it will shrink. For example, PVC shrink wrap film shrinks as much as 50 percent. Most automatic machines use centerfold polyolefin shrink film with a 30% shrink rate. Automatic bundling machines use polyethylene shrink film for packaging heavier products with less than a 15% shrink rate.
Shrink wrap machines come in a variety of sizes, allowing you the freedom to purchase a machine that works best for the products being wrapped. More extended machines are made to shrink thicker materials. High-speed bundling machines can be several feet in length to wrap heavy polyethylene shrink film.
All fully automatic shrink wrap machines should have an infeed conveyor and exit conveyor. Most machines require a minimum of 20 – 25 ft. of floor space with conveyors. Some high-speed automatic bundling machines are more than 70 feet long!
Advantage of Shrink Wrap Automation
Automatic Shrink wrap machines exist to increase production. The difference between moving from a semi-automatic shrink machine to a fully auto machine is thousands of products daily. A shrink combo system uses an L bar sealer and tunnel. An experienced user can effectively package 8 – 12 products per minute. This is the maximum output with a semi-auto shrink machine.
An automatic shrink wrap machine can package the same product at 25 – 40 products per minute. Some super auto machines can package even faster. The speed a machine can cycle is determined by the product size and height. Bigger products run slower than small products.
Companies can significantly multiply output with a fully auto machine. Using low-end numbers of 8 products per minute on a semi-auto shrink wrap machine, users can package 3,840 products per day. Using the lowest output numbers (25 ppm) for an automatic machine, the same two workers could package 12,000 products per day.
Output is the most crucial advantage of an automated machine. The increase in worker productivity will pay for the autonomous system within months.
As you begin your search, you will need to keep a variety of questions in mind. You do not want to pay an arm and a leg to discover you purchased a machine that won’t accommodate your needs.
1. Product You Will Shrink Wrap
What do you plan on wrapping? How many varieties of sizes will you have? Is there the possibility of a new larger product being introduced in the future?
2. Speed Needed
How fast do you need your products wrapped? Each machine should have a product per minute rating. The best way to be absolutely sure it will meet the speed requirements is with pre-purchase testing.
3. Your Current and Future Packaging System
What does your current packaging system look like, and what do you hope it will look like in five or ten years? Ask yourself what shrink wrap machine will integrate smoothly into your current system or which one you’re willing to purchase and move into the future.
Look at your workspace carefully before you make a purchase. Make sure the machine will fit into your current space. If you do not have the real estate, consider a smaller line or a smaller combo machine.
Purchase a Machine to Grow With
There is the possibility you may not be ready for a fully automatic machine. If production is less than 2,500 products daily, most semi-auto machines will suffice. At 2500 products per day and more, an automatic shrink wrap machine should be considered. Something that is taking two people most of the day to finish can be completed in two hours with an auto shrink wrap machine. If you have questions about automatic shrink wrap machines, call us at 1-800-441-5090.