Automation is a big step to take for any production line. Not only is it a significant capital investment, it is a substantial shift for employees and the way a business achieves its goals. If you are considering adding a conveyorized pallet wrapper to your floor, congratulations! It probably means your operations are doing well and you are looking for ways to find efficiencies as production increases.
Making the transition to increased automation is an exciting prospect, but should be done with careful consideration of all elements of your business operations. From adding a fully automatic stretch wrapper to your warehouse to incorporating a conveyorized pallet wrapper, there are many options out there. Conveyors will streamline processes, but they also occupy valuable floor space.
Let’s walk through the considerations you should ask yourself and staff before taking the leap into a conveyorized system.
A specialized conveyor system modified for hand pallet jack operations added automation to this pick and pack facility.
Evaluate the Process
Taking a look at the big picture – as well as all the little details along the way – is the essential first step in determining your present and future needs. If you’re a manager, meet with staff to get into the nitty gritty of how the production line works presently. Ask a lot of questions. There might be some steps employees take with each load that even the most attentive manager might not be fully aware of. If you’re considering changing the way they perform daily tasks by increasing automation, it’s vital to include employees in the process.
Start your evaluation at the beginning of the production line. How are the building blocks (the product) of each pallet brought into the warehouse/production area? How is each pallet built? Is the process the same every time, or does it change frequently?
Once the pallet is built, how it is readied for transport? Does it need to be moved to a designated wrapping area? How is it moved to the wrapping area, by pallet jack, forklift? How it is presently being wrapped: hand wrap, semi automatic stretch wrapper, automatic stretch wrapper or some other method? Are there multiple stretch wrapping machines, or only one? Is there standing time anywhere in the process (i.e. an employee waiting for a load to be wrapped)?
Once the pallet load is wrapped, how is it moved to a loading or staging area? Does your production line operate one shift or run around the clock? And so on.
You know your business better than anyone, so these questions are just a start. The bottom line is take a deep dive into your present processes. That’s how you’ll find efficiencies and challenges.
Caption: Watch a conveyorized Rotary Ring Automatic Stretch Wrapper in action for a beverage distribution center.
Think About Pace
When it comes to conveyors, one of the most important considerations is the pace of production. The goal is to have whatever additional automation brought into the system work seamlessly within your production line. Understanding the time it takes for each piece of the pallet building process gives you a general idea of how often a pallet would be introduced to the conveyor.
Some other areas to consider around production pace: How does this relate to other elements of production down the line? Will the conveyorized system be able to handle the pace of production? How many pallets should a conveyor be able to fit in order to match current (and future) production? Is the pace consistent or does it vary? Can you match the loading and offloading of the pallets on the conveyors or will a stack up result on either end?
Caption: The powerful and versatile Phoenix Rotary Ring Automatic stretch wrapper can fit into small space, even with conveyors. The model shown in the video is designed with two legs and takes up minimal floor space. Conveyors could be placed in different configurations to suit the space (including at a 90-degree angle for corners).
Target the Floor Space
Every inch of floor space is valuable commodity in any warehouse. It’s not only important to identify potential locations for a conveyorized system, but also one that works within your existing production line.
Keep in mind conveyors don’t have to be in a straight line. At Phoenix Wrappers, we’ve designed and installed custom conveyor systems to fit relatively small spaces. We’ve built conveyor systems to fit into unused corners of a warehouse and installed a wall mount rotary arm automatic stretch wrapper with conveyors to save space. There are options for increasing automation without taking over prime real estate in your warehouse.
Is There Enough Production?
One of the key justifications for increased automation and conveyors is meeting production demands. So, is there enough production to warrant a conveyorized system? Are your employees struggling to keep up with production goals? Are they working overtime to get everything completed? Is automation needed because your company is entering a new market or expanding a product line? This answer will be data driven, and should also consider future goals and production projections.
Caption: Our conveyors matched with a Phoenix Automatic Rotary Arm Stretch Wrapper can handle heavy loads, like these pallets of bricks.
When Are The Peak Times?
Altering a production system is a permanent change. Going back to “the way things were” is often difficult and costly. Before making the leap to automation, reflect on the highs and lows of your production output over the course of the year. Will a new element of automation handle the peak times? Will it still add efficiency to the production line during a slow time of year? If your production is more or less consistent all year long, consider the impact of potential growth over the next year and beyond. A conveyorized pallet wrapper is an investment in the future, which brings us to the last point for consideration.
Caption: The Phoenix Rotary Ring Automatic Stretch Wrapper with conveyors added efficiency to this customer’s warehouse. The video shows forklift operators placing and removing the pallets from the conveyors.
Projections for the Future
Introducing a conveyorized pallet wrapper into a production line is a decision that will impact your business for years to come. Don’t take it lightly. Look at your production numbers realistically and analyze this investment to be sure a conveyorized system is the right choice for your business. It might be wise to also consider the flexibility of a conveyorized pallet system – could it be added to if production calls for it down the line? As mentioned earlier, the addition of a fast and versatile non-conveyorized automatic stretch wrapper is another option that can also bring about efficiencies in the production line.
Ready to Move Forward?
If you’ve carefully considered the needs and implications of investing in a conveyorized pallet wrapper to your warehouse – and the conclusion is a conveyorized pallet wrapping system is a business necessity – Phoenix Wrappers offers a range of conveyorized pallet wrappers. If your business has special considerations, such as space or configuration, Phoenix works with customers to tailor a stretch wrapping system that meets the needs of the business.