Question from Gene:
What is the true cost of web breaks?
Thanks for submitting your question, Gene.
Normally, I would begin by establishing some context, then answer the question. But for your question, I think I will start with the answer, then expand with some detail. The simple answer is “more than you may realize”. And now for the detail:
Think of each operation in your plant as if it were a link in a chain and you are pulling product through from the beginning to end with that chain. If any operation fails, such as a web break, the chain is broken, and your plant’s total output is immediately impacted because you are no longer pulling product through. Now, let’s put some numbers to it. Assume you are wrapping a pallet every minute and when a web breaks, it takes 5 minutes, best case, for an operator to get off a forklift, go over to the wrapper, strip the film, and restart the wrapper. So, every web break takes the place of 5 wrapped pallets out the door. If you have three web breaks a shift, then 15 pallets worth of production has been lost on the shift, multiplied by 2 or 3 shifts per day, well, the numbers are significant. To make matters worse, in an operation running 24 hours a day, there is no place in the schedule to make up for the lost production. If that isn’t depressing enough, multiply that number by your selling price per pallet, and now you have the lost opportunity cost. Web breaks aren’t just a nuisance, there are real dollars lost. Notice, we haven’t even talked about the lost stretch film cost, mainly because it pales in comparison.
What typically happens when you have chronic web breaks is that the operator will decrease tension on the machine to prevent the web from breaking. But one bad thing is now being replaced by another because reduced tension translates to reduced load containment. So, you get the product out the door, which is a good thing, but when it is subjected to side forces during transportation, it arrives damaged, or is rejected by your customer, and the costs have now increased exponentially, not to mention loss of your customer’s confidence, which can be the costliest of all.
Let’s take a moment to explore why the film breaks during a wrap cycle. As the film is stretched, it becomes stiffer (which is needed for load containment), but it is also less puncture resistant. If you are applying the film with sufficient stretch to meet your load containment standards, sharp edges on the pallet or the corner of a corrugated tier sheet will immediately break the web. I can illustrate that with an experiment. The next time you open a taped box, cut tape on the top of the box, but leave the sides taped. Puncture the tape with a pen or some other pointed object, you will see nothing happens. Now lift the flap while puncturing the tape on the other side. Just like the stretch film, it will immediately break.
Well, we have learned the bad news about the cost of web breaks, we have learned what causes them, and what the operators do to eliminate them (which causes other problems down the line), it’s time for some good news!
Web breaks can be virtually eliminated, and we can do that without increasing your cost per pallet. Our Rapid Bander incorporates reinforcement bands or filaments into the full web, so we can stretch the film further, provide better load containment, reduce film usage, all without web breaks. Even if the film is punctured during the wrap cycle, it will only tear to the next band or filament and stop. Operators love it because it eliminates their number one issue wrapping pallets, you will love it because you get more product out the back door, management will love it because it will reduce losses from damage
during transportation, and your customer will love it because the product they ordered arrives safe. Honestly, there is no downside, it’s all in the science.
Thanks for asking,