Specialty tube and bar shipper protects workers and improves productivity with stretch-wrap machine
January 2012- Approximately 80 percent of products shipped from Howco Metals, Houston, are stretch wrapped. The company processes and distributes specialty steels and has engineering, processing and distribution centers in 14 locations throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Norway, Singapore, China and the United Arab Emirates. It ships bar or tubular products in nickel alloys, duplex, stainless and low-alloy steels.
Howco Metals was using a turntable to wrap the parts to the pallet before shipping, but this process was hard on employees and time consuming. With the turntable, employees had to bend over and catch the film as it came around, pushing it down or pulling it to wrap the parts on the pallet.
“It was an issue to grab the plastic and have to adjust it from one position to the other,” says R.Q. Plemons, manager at Howco Metals. “I just thought that was unsafe. They could get themselves caught in it.”
Along with worker safety, Plemons was concerned about productivity. Most of the time, two people were needed to use the turntable for wrapping shipments, costing the company manpower and hours.
Safer and faster
Plemons was familiar with orbital stretch-wrap technology from Yellow Jacket, Douglasville, Ga., and purchased a Yellow Jacket machine for Howco Metals in March 2005. The Yellow Jacket Manual (87-M) orbital stretch-wrap machine wraps loads with a horizontally positioned stretch-wrap dispenser that moves around and under a load. The orbital stretch-wrap technology securely locks standard, odd-shaped, long and other load types to the pallet on the forklift, protecting materials against damage, moisture, dust and wind.
Plemons estimates the Yellow Jacket machine, when compared to the turntable, is 30 percent to 40 percent faster when wrapping. Occasionally, if there are a lot of parts to be wrapped, two people will be needed to operate the orbital stretch wrapping machine but usually only one person is needed.
After the original purchase, the company bought two more Yellow Jacket 87-M machines, featuring a new design that offers bigger pinchers than the older models, which wraps the film tight, and features casters instead of linear rails for easier movement. The overall machine is more rigid than the previous model, as well.
One of the two new stretch wrappers was acquired for a different department at the Houston facility, where the old turntable had been moved. As the loads became bigger, the same turntable problems came up. The second machine went to a company in Yorkstown, Texas, that had been bought by Howco Metals.
“We wanted to purchase another Yellow Jacket so we could do away with the same problems that we were having,” Plemons says.
The machine has met the company’s goals of increased productivity and safety. Howco Metals wraps an estimated 40 pallets per day, for approximately 59,760 pallets wrapped between March 2005 and March 2011. Increased customer satisfaction was an added benefit of the machine. In the past, if the wrap came loose, customers’ parts would get lost. “The customer likes the way things are wrapped now better than the way it was before,” Plemons says. “We don’t have as many failures.” MM