Tuesday | 24 March, 2015 | 2:51 pm

Under wraps

Written by By Lynn Stanley

Plastic packaging is a force field against the elements for the metals market

March 2015 - In a bid to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, NASA first wants to shrink wrap an asteroid, wrangling the rock into a stable orbit around the moon for observation and study. The agency is also looking at the potential for shrink wrapping its unwieldy space suits to astronauts’ bodies to create a sleek, second skin capable of life support. For down-to-earth Buffalo Shrink Wrap, enclosing items in low-density polyethylene plastic is all in a day’s work.

“It’s a proven, step-by-step process that can be used to protect products that are any shape or size,” says President and Owner Bill Casilio. “When you self-weld the seams and heat the surface with a hand-held propane heat gun, the material shrinks drum tight.”

The company’s shrink wrap can help prevent damage from high winds and ultraviolet rays and guard against salt water, rain and snow, leading some customers to call it a packaging superhero.

Shrink wrap emerged in 1978 as a way to weatherize and prepare boats for temporary storage over the winter, explains Casilio. He nurtured the fledgling business from its infancy before deciding to take his knowledge and experience outside the marine industry and establish Buffalo Shrink Wrap in 1997.

The Clarence, New York, company has since provided shrink wrap, application equipment and supplies to the industrial and marine markets globally. Casilio got the idea to offer shrink wrapping to the metals market about 10 years ago. “Any metal, whether it’s being transported in its raw state or as a finished product, is susceptible to rust and corrosion,” he says. “You can completely contain this with shrink wrapping, keeping your products clean, dry and corrosion-free.”


A good defense

The packaging process offers ferrous surfaces six-sided protection with the option to add vents for air circulation as well as vapor corrosion inhibitors. The plastic wrap is also cost-efficient. “If raw material rusts, it’s an expensive proposition,” says Casilio. “Shrink wrapping is significantly less expensive than paying to have corrosion cleaned or rust removed from metal products.” 

Yet Casilio estimates that only 15 to 20 percent of machine tool manufacturers use shrink wrapping. The majority of companies cling to methods such as crating and tarping.

“Freight fees continue to rise,” Casilio notes. “Crating adds dimensional size and weight, which affects transportation costs as well as bridge and ship clearances. A wood crate can be significantly more expensive than the $1,000 to $2,000 a manufacturer might spend on shrink wrapping.”

Safety is another consideration—large machines have lifting points or trunnions that permit the equipment to be moved safely. Shrink wrapping makes those lifting points accessible for riggers, allowing them to securely chain or strap the equipment to the truck trailer bed without damaging it. Crating typically covers those access areas, making it more difficult to fasten down the load. 

“If a crated item falls off a trailer bed or tips over in a ship’s hold, the machine is likely going to sustain some damage,” he says.

Using tarpaulin remains the most popular method for covering equipment or raw material. Unlike shrink wrap, a tarp generally covers just the top and sides of a load, leaving cargo vulnerable to weather conditions and de-icing agents (like road salt) during the winter. Tarps also tend to flap in the wind, chafing products with painted surfaces.

“If a truck is moving a tarped load with an international destination, the tarp will be removed at port and the equipment left unprotected,” Casilio adds. “Once product is on board, it may be a month or more before that equipment reaches the customer. Without the proper protection it will be exposed to salt water, chemicals, dust, dirt and other substances. Salt is the most damaging. As soon as metal is exposed to salt, the corrosion process begins. You don’t want a half-million-dollar machine showing up at a manufacturer’s plant with damage to its surface and working components.” 

Compared to other protection methods, shrink wrap is the least expensive yet most effective material to cover cargo, from pallet-sized loads to very large machines. The material is also recyclable. 

Buffalo Shrink Wrap continues to put its protective wrap on a range of items but the company has also put the power of shrink wrap in the hands of its customers.

“It’s easy to learn, easy to use and the equipment and material needed to shrink wrap is very cost effective,” Casilio says. The company supplies shrink wrap in thicknesses of 6 mm, 7 mm, 9 mm, 10 mm and 12 mm and sheet sizes 10  to 50 feet wide. Orders placed with Buffalo Shrink Wrap are shipped the same day.

Airtight case

“We sold material and propane heat guns to a very large sign company last year and talked them through the process over the phone,” Casilio recalls. “They sent us pictures of their shrink wrapping job.” It’s a little bit like wrapping a Christmas gift except you self-weld the seams instead of using Scotch tape.

The attributes of shrink wrapping along with its ease of use weren’t lost on Koike Aronson Inc./Ransome. The Arcade, New York-based global manufacturer of metal cutting, welding and positioning equipment was having problems with moisture infiltrating its overseas shipping containers. 

“We were also spending a lot of time trying to seal the containers to make them airtight,” says Everett Wheeler, warehouse and transportation manager for Koike. The company has been shrink wrapping since 2000. 


“Bill came in and gave us a demonstration,” recalls Wheeler. “Buffalo Shrink Wrap became our savior.” A variety of welding positioners and cutting machines comprises the company’s core business along with portable cutting equipment. “We shrink wrap and live load,” explains Wheeler. “Shipping containers are brought to the plant by truck. We load and seal them. That way we eliminate the need for additional goods handling. The containers are then trucked to port. Shrink wrapping saves us a lot of time and we don’t have to worry about moisture getting into our electronics or bare metal.”

Koike also serves as a warehouse for its parent company’s portable equipment line. “We ship that product all over the world,” Wheeler says of the loads, some of which are as small as 48 by 40 by 48 inches. “We shrink wrap those products as well.”

The shipping department is currently working on a job that will run through September 2015. “We started the job in November 2014,” Wheeler says. “We shrink wrap 28 machines a month and we’re using approximately five 200-foot spools of plastic a month.”

A dollar saved

Training in shrink wrapping is a must for Koike employees working in the shipping and transportation department. “It’s an important part of our customer service,” Wheeler says. “Shrink wrapping eliminates any worries that a corroded product might show up at an end customer’s facility.”

The department also tries to guide customers in their choice of packaging options. Crating, open top container and flat rack are typically the shipping methods most customers consider. The cost of shrink wrapping over conventional packaging methods is dramatic, Wheeler says.

“We recently quoted crating costs versus shrink wrapping for out of gauge welding equipment being shipped to Saudi Arabia,” he says. “Crating costs came to $3,655. The cost to shrink wrap the equipment was $1,065. The equipment also required special handling at port so the savings for the customer was substantial.”

Koike sometimes has to meet customers’ unique requirements for anchoring equipment to a flatbed trailer. “We had a customer that didn’t want their machine strapped,” says Wheeler. “We shrink wrapped the machine and were able to get the customer’s sign-off from both a manufacturing and shipping perspective.”

The packaging method is starting to catch on with Koike distributors as well. “We have one distributor that will put a heat shrunk machine on his own trailer and deliver it to his customer with no additional tarping required,” Wheeler says. Since making the switch to shrink wrapping, Koike has not looked back.

“In 15 years I have not had one customer call and complain about moisture problems with an overseas shipment,” says Wheeler. For Koike, a manufacturer that prides itself on quality and customer service, that kind of success rate defies gravity. MM


Company Profiles





Camfil APC - Equipment


ATI Industrial Automation

4GL Solutions

Enmark Systems Inc. 

Camfil APC- Replacement Filters Lissmac Corp. NICKEL ALLOY Lantek Systems Inc.
Supermax Tools
Sandmeyer Steel Company SigmaTEK Systems LLC


Bayern Software


Richardson Metals, Inc.






Churchill Steel Plate
Steelmax Tools LLC




   Trilogy Machinery Inc. Sandmeyer Steel Company Heyco Metals



Sandmeyer Steel Company



Trilogy Machinery Inc.




Alliance Steel
Burghardt + Schmidt Group MC Machinery Systems Inc. Rolleri USA

North American Steel Alliance

      Texas Iron and Metal


      Texas Iron and Metal
Butech Bliss TRUMPF Inc.



Red Bud Industries


MC Machinery Systems Inc.

Sandmeyer Steel Company

The Bradbury Group EMH Crane



Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Hougen Manufacturing BLM Group


Steel Storage Systems


HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.
Concast Metal Products Co.
UFP IndustrialUFP Industrial Advanced Machine & Engineering  National Tube Supply

Copper and Brass Servicenter Association

Farmers Copper

Prudential Stainless & Alloys


Behringer Saws Inc.


Advanced Gauging Technologies Cosen Saws Barton International


DoALL Sawing Products Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Cincinnati Inc. HE&M Saw Omax Corp.
  LVD Strippit Savage Saws


  Scotchman Industries


Jarden Zinc Products
  Trilogy Machinery Inc. Admiral Steel  
    Alliance Steel  

TPMG2022 Brands