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Equipment brews benefits for Anheuser-Busch (sidebar)

Putting the wraps on A-B's lines
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Fifteen stretch wrappers secure pallet loads from 15 palletizers at the Houston brewery. All but one of the stretch wrappers were supplied by Orion Packaging Systems (Memphis TN) within the last two years. In the past year Anheuser-Busch also added two new Model 924 palletizers from Alvey (St. Louis MO).

Each wrapper is installed at the discharge of each palletizer. Because there are more stretch wrapper/palletizer combinations than filling lines the extra downstream equipment is used to provide back-up. The new machines rated to produce up to 90 loads/hr usually operate in the 55 to 70 loads/hr range according to Houston assistant plant manager Dan Alonso.

Houston operations manager Gary McKinney says "We had used an Orion machine here and still do for partial loads. That wrapper proved to be a very reliable piece of equipment. We did look at the different machines used at our other plants before making a final decision when we were looking to buy additional wrappers for our plant."

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The older unit Model MA-33 was purchased in late '90. The 14 newer machines are designated Model MA-44. These are automatic conveyorized rotary tower systems that are positioned a mere 12' apart from one another to save space at the Houston facility. The bays for all 14 were installed on slight angles to allow easier entrance by forklifts eliminating the need for operators to make more difficult 90° turns.

After palletizing pallets are conveyed to the infeed conveyor of each MA-44. The load is conveyed into the machine where it stops and remains stationary as it's wrapped. The tower is equipped with a film delivery system that revolves around the load. The wrapping begins at the bottom of the load moves to the top where several wraps are applied then back down. Several wraps are also applied at the bottom before a heated knife cuts off the film. Wrapped pallets are then delivered to a warehouse area prior to distribution by truck or rail.

"Before we selected the stretch wrappers we evaluated costs to operate the quality of the equipment operational costs and so on" recalls Alonso. "We liked the economic value the Orion wrappers offered."

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