Focus on Stretch Wrapping as Packagers Reduce Costs and Materials While Increasing Efficiency and Safety

The global stretch and shrink wrap market is expected to hit more than $20 billion by 2024.

Although there has been a recent shift toward more consolidation on the producer side, packaging companies are finding new and creative ways to solve problems with this seemingly conventional solution.

With smaller neighborhood players getting into the e-commerce and packaging game, as well as new operations in other countries around the world, the demand for modernization and reinvention in this segment is real and across the board.

While no means exhaustive, I’ve selected a few of the stories that have crossed my desk over the last few months that show progress and creativity in this space.

Crawford Packaging Updates Existing Equipment to Deliver Increased Productivity, Lower Costs and Reduced Materials

A poorly performing stretch wrap machine gets an upgrade.

In 2016, Crawford Provincial rebranded itself to Crawford Packaging (, and the company continues to grow and innovate, finishing construction on new office space in London and acquiring Celplast Packaging Systems and BVM USA this year. In one of the many case studies detailing its stretch wrap, shrink wrap, sealers and produce packaging knowledge on its website, Crawford Packaging tells the story of how one Canadian food processor found dramatic cost and material savings by making an upgrade to its existing equipment.

Initially using a thin-gauge stretch film on a stretch wrapper, the food processor’s original machine was slow and used a lot of material.

Crawford Packaging did an audit to uncover these are other inefficiencies in the company’s current process. The most critical finding being that the original film was far too thin to deliver the best results, meaning the processor was using an excessive amount of film to gain the correct load containment levels.

The first suggestion from Crawford packaging was to switch to a film, Guardian 90 stretch, that allowed for fewer top and bottom wraps and reduced the cycle time, and a reduction in total wraps from 22 to 13 per wrap cycle. Crawford Packaging also reduced the film usage per pallet from 9.4 oz of film to 6.3 oz.

After the audit and a few test runs, the food processor switched their existing stretch wrap to Guardian 90 stretch. This result has helped the company increase effectiveness and reduce the total amount of material they are using—as well as reduce material costs.

These changes also reduced The stretch wrapper cycle time by 60 seconds, making sure more pallets were wrapped per hour/per shift.

IPS Packaging Suggests Orbital Stretch Wrappers

High volume, odd-shaped loads are more securely palletized.

Unlike a manual stretch wrap method, orbital machines wrap the film around the pallet or product by rotating the film. Therefore, they can get higher throughput speeds relative to traditional stretch wrapping methods. This is because the palletized loads don’t need to be rotated at high speeds. Instead, the machine wraps around the pallet.

IPS Packaging recently worked with an appliance manufacturer to triple its pack-to-ship productivity. Before the orbital stretch wrapper, it took two workers 15 minutes to wrap a pallet. The machine reduced that to one person doing the same work in under five minutes.

Further, the orbital solution is safer because it eliminates the side-to-side motion that can lead to injury, and human bending and twisting are taken out of the wrapping process as the machine does all of this work instead.

As a result of IPS Packaging’s orbital stretch wrapper, the appliance manufacturer had damage-free shipments of odd-shaped loads prepared by fewer people and in a third-less time.

Craft Brewer Oskar Blues and Dow Collaborate on Printed Collation Shrink Packaging

Choosing collated shrink packaging resulted in business growth, sustainability benefits and strong shelf appeal.

This is a case study we covered earlier this year, but I like it because of its creativity and use of available materials and opportunity.

Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, collaborated with craft beer brewer Oskar Blues along with plastics converter Berry Global and Ampacet to produce the industry’s first printed collation shrink packaging in the United States for the brewer’s 24-can variety cases.

The shrink solution serves as secondary packaging that wraps corrugated trays, replacing previous shrink-wrapping that held two 12-pack cartons together. The collated shrink packaging continues to feature Oskar Blues’ branding and design, maintaining shelf appeal for consumers and has generated 40 percent cost savings, a 64 percent reduction in the use of secondary packaging materials usage and 73 percent fewer trucks delivering packaging materials.

After initial equipment investment, film costs less per unit packaged than traditional materials, reducing warehouse storage space and the need for raw materials.

Oskar Blues’ packaging shift comes at a time when demand for collation shrink continues to rise as brands seek more cost-effective, sustainable secondary packaging solutions. The rapidly-growing craft beer industry is a logical area for growth in collation shrink secondary packaging.

Do you have a fantastic example of how stretch wrapping helped streamline your business? We want to hear about it. Visit Facebook or LinkedIn to share your story with us.

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