How Much Film Is Enough? Are My Employees Using the Right Amount of Stretch Wrap?

How Much Film Is Enough? Are My Employees Using the Right Amount of Stretch Wrap?

By Michael Kralstein | Stretch Wrap

Jun 21

When it comes using stretch film and understanding how much stretch wrap is enough, it's vital to understand more isn't always better! At the same time, while modern stretch film formulations are designed to stretch — it's not always designed to stretch to the extent or for the reasons you imagine.

These two facts are vital and should always be on the forefront of your mind when deciding how much film is enough. The answer to the question "Are my employees using the right amount of stretch wrap?" is multifaceted and will vary based on your unique needs.

However, the following information is structured to provide further insight into the process of determining optimal film usage amounts. Continue reading to learn more.

What Attributes to Examine the Optimal Film Usage?

When determining how much film is enough, it's imperative to think about it on a load-by-load basis with strong regard to the type of stretch film being used. You should always recognize key film attributes, such as:

  • Puncture resistance
  • Film gauge
  • Tear resistance
  • Film formulation
  • Roll length
  • Price per pound

In addition to film attributes, you should also take into account load attributes, such as:

  • Configuration of the load (uneven or cube)
  • Weight of the load
  • Whether you need to lock the load to pallet
  • Inboard or outboard (product is smaller or bigger than the pallet respectively)
  • Containment force of the load (product of revolutions and wrap force or tension)

Step-by-Step Guide for Determining Film Usage

With the previously mentioned attributes in mind, the next step is to use industry best practices to determine how much film is enough on a load-by-load basis. Get started by:

  1. Establishing the load standards to maximize the likelihood of safe shipment. Review the:
    1. Load-to-pallet bond
    2. Containment force value
    3. No long or dragging film tails
  2. Selecting the best settings to ensure the optimum standards are achieved, such as:
    1. Film options (gauge, quality, and price)
    2. Machine adjustments (wrap force, pre-stretch percentage, bottom and top wrap counts, film delivery speed down and up, film overlap, etc.)
  3. Setting up a feedback loop that guarantees your standards are continually maintained

Winning the Great Balancing Act - Is a Thinner Film Better?

Are you choosing thinner film to achieve savings? The reality is thinner film doesn't always translate into savings. However, decreases in film thickness almost always will translate into a decrease in wrap force due to the increased number of film breaks.

Due to the complexity of finding film breaks, many operators simply get rid of them by minimizing wrap force until they stop. Consequently, additional layers of film are added to maintain and recover lost containment force, which leads to increases in film consumption.

Achieve the Optimal Containment Force

Every load doesn't have an optimal wrap pattern. Even so, the load does have an optimal containment force. For instance, if your load needs 15 pounds of containment force, the operator can achieve this in two different ways:

  • Use a thicker film and apply a few layers
  • Use a thin film and apply a lot of layers

As you can see, the end containment force can be identical, but the throughput rates and wrap patterns can vary significantly.

Get Better Economy with Pre-Stretch Film

The original stretch wrapper was designed with a core brake that slowed the rotating pallet down enough to stretch the film and compress the load. This original concept grew rapidly and evolved into the stretch film and stretch film machines we rely on today.

One of the most common methods of making the process more efficient is stretching or pre-stretching the film before it leaves the delivery system. Pre-stretch is the process of enhancing the yield of the film by elongating it. In a stretch wrap machine, pre-stretch is achieved when two rollers in the system turn at different speeds and stretches the film prior to application. Virtually all film semi-automatic stretch wrap machines will have a pre-stretch delivery system.

How Can Pre-Stretch Save Money?

Most of today's modern wrapping machines will pre-stretch film between a range of 150% up to 300%. This range offers a safe and effective blend of efficiency and economy. If your machine pre-stretches at 150%, it can transform a 6,000 foot of film into 9,000 feet.

A stretch wrap machine will help increase efficiency and alleviate some concerns over whether your employees are using too much stretch wrap. While a new truck may not pay for itself in three years, a stretch wrapper with built-in pre-stretch can pay for itself in film savings alone in less than two years.

Consider this — a customer wrapping 50 loads daily wastes approximately $35,000 in film over a period of five years if he isn't using a machine with pre-stretch.

Contact AAA Polymer for a Free Film Analysis

At AAA Polymer, we pride ourselves in helping our customers get the most from every roll. We bring several decades of experience evaluating our customers stretch wrap usage, goals, and needs to gain a comprehensive view. Then, our stretch film experts can suggest a better, more formidable solution to save you money and increase efficiency.

Contact the experts at AAA Polymer today for a free hand or machine stretch wrap film analysis.

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About the Author

Michael Kralstein started working in sales full time for AAA Polymer in February 2000. In 2006, he became the Sales Manager of our can liner division. He currently manages all aspects related to can liners.

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