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Fabricator Wraps Up a Packaging Solution
Time: 2011-08-30
For Detroit Tool Metal Products (DTMP), high-volume shipping and odd-shaped, odd-sized pallets were cumbersome challenges requiring a packaging method that was secure, cost effective, and efficient -- but that traditional heat shrink wrapping and banding could not provide. The Lebanon, MO manufacturer turned to the Yellow Jacket 87-M Orbital Stretch Wrap machine, which easily solved the shipping dilemmas while saving space and providing a safer work environment for employees.
DTMP, a leading supplier of stamped, fabricated, and fully assembled metal products, serves mainly the agriculture and trucking equipment industries. Along with stamping, fabricating, and assembling, DTMP also serves its customers through product design, finishing, quality assurance, and delivery. 
The company has over 40 presses capable of stamping 15 to 1,600 tons, with their largest bed press measuring 144 x 96 in. Laser, plasma, turret, and welding fabrication methods are used, along with dry painting and final assembly services to ensure that finished products can be used immediately. DTMP owns its own fleet of van trailers, flat bed trailers, and tractors to ensure flexibility and dependability in shipping.
Heat Shrink Wrapping Worsens Shipping Challenges
The variety of services that DTMP offers provides unique shipping challenges. Packaging methods must be able to accommodate the needs of both manufacturing and distribution facilities, at high volumes that can be around 500 skids a week. Before adopting the Yellow Jacket 87-M, DTMP used heat shrink wrap and banding to package their pallets – methods that were costly, time and space consuming, and dangerous.
“Most of our products here we had to band to the skid, which we found to be pretty ineffective because most of the products we ship are unusual sizes and shapes, so the bands wouldn’t hold them down quite as well as we’d like them to,” explains Scott Callahan, transportation manager at DTMP. “Our other alternative at that particular point was heat shrink wrapping the parts to the skid, which is time consuming and very expensive.”
To heat shrink wrap packages, DTMP used expensive 10 mils thick film that had to be put around the entire pallet and then shrunk down using propane-fueled heat guns. In addition to the cost of propane, the guns often broke, requiring time and money to fix. The method also was hard on workers, requiring repetitive bending and kneeling that was difficult for the company’s veteran shipping employees.  Workers also were at risk of being burned by the heat guns.
The operation also took up a lot of time and space. Callahan estimated that the process required up to 4 to 5 minutes per pallet. To increase efficiency, the company tried to wrap 20 to 30 pallets at once, which took up a great deal of floor space.
“It basically stopped anything else from happening,” Callahan explains.
In addition to heat shrink wrapping, the company also tried used bands and other horizontal wrappers, but these often did not secure odd-shaped and odd-sized pallets well enough.
“A lot of our parts that we ship are heavy, are odd shaped and just cannot be banded and secured with any kind of reliability, especially for long trips,” Callahan states.
The company began to look for a better solution to their packing problems.
“We were trying to find a method to be able to secure our freight before we shipped it, while at the same time reaping the rewards of cost savings, as well as the benefits of reducing the risk of injury,” Callahan says.  One of DTMP’s outside processors had a Yellow Jacket orbital stretch wrapper, so senior project engineer Clyde Majerus coordinated a trip for Callahan to check out the machine. “They were wrapping a fender product with it and it was one of those odd-shaped and difficult parts, and it was working,” Majerus states. “That was the clincher for us.”
One Machine Solves Many Problems
The Yellow Jacket 87-M was the answer to DTMP’s packing challenges. The company purchased two manual machines. One is used in the manufacturing facility and the other is used almost exclusively by the distribution center. Loads are wrapped to the pallet right on the forks of the forklift. A horizontally positioned stretch wrap dispenser moves around and under the loads as the Yellow Jacket is manually advanced across the length of the load.
The Yellow Jacket 87-M’s efficiency helps DTMP save time so they can effectively ship their high volumes of skids. They can now wrap a skid in half the time previously required, says Callahan. With 20 to 30 skids a day needing to be packed, the company now has 40 to 60 more minutes each day to do other things.
“It makes the operators feel more efficient, like they’re doing more work, because the fact of the matter is that they are,” Callahan said.
With the high volume of skids handled, the Yellow Jacket machines also are space savers because space is no longer needed to stage 20 to 30 pallets.
“I don’t have to burden the entire dock to do one job now,” Callahan adds.
Compared to heat shrink wrapping, the Yellow Jacket also saves DTMP money while doing the job just as effectively.
“Because it’s going completely around the pallet, it’s holding our sharp and unusual-shaped parts right onto the pallet very well," Majerus comments. Although the cost of the stretch film is about the same for both methods, the Yellow Jacket 87-M uses much less film than shrink wrapping, so the company easily made up for the cost of the machine. “We might have actually paid that machine off in less than a year’s time just in savings from the film alone,” Callahan claims. Majerus noted that their cost for film went down by more than $1.75 per pallet.
An additional benefit of the Orbital Stretch Wrapper is worker safety because it gets the wrapping process off of the floor and eliminates the repetitive bending and risk of burns from the heat guns. Callahan explained that a majority of employees in DTMP’s shipping department were 45-plus years old and had been with the company for over 20 years.
 “Our shipping department is probably the most tenured group of guys anywhere in this company. . .  So the continual bending and stooping needed to heat shrink wrap takes its toll,” Callahan noted. “It’s painful work that they do not have to do anymore,” Majerus added.
DTMP also found an unexpected benefit from using the Yellow Jacket in that it helps protect the pallets from inclement weather in case trailers leak during transportation or the pallets need to be stored outside. In one instance, a customer requested that DTMP wrap the pallets so they could be stored outside. With the Yellow Jacket, DTMP was able to fulfill the customer’s request.
The orbital stretch wrapper has worked so well, that the company is considering buying a third machine
“We were looking to find a more cost effective way of securing our skids…a way to do it that could also reduce the possibility of injury…and a way to try to save space while we did all this,” Callahan explains. “What the Yellow Jacket did for us was it offered us a very good way of securing our products to the skid while taking up less space and using less time to do so. And the Yellow Jacket secures the freight to the skid as well as heat shrink wrap and better than your traditional horizontal wrapper or banding would. It also is such a time savings compared to heat shrink wrapping a skid. The Yellow Jacket offered answers to just about all of the problems that we had without compromising how we shipped our parts.”
Source: www.ien.com