When it comes to stretch wrapping equipment packagers and manufacturers alike concern themselves with specifications such as the number of loads that can be wrapped per hour the size of load the machine will handle its ability to prestretch film to minimize material usage and so forth. Yet the internal components that make such efficiencies possible often go unnoticed. That's not the case for Lantech the Louisville KY-based maker of a variety of stretch-wrapping machines. Recently the company switched to film carriage guide rollers provided by Efson (Wilmington NC) for its Q-Series and S-Series(TM) Straddle semi-automatic stretch wrappers. The rollers measure approximately 3" wide with a 2 3/4" diameter. The injection-molded fiberglass-reinforced nylon rollers are used to smoothly raise and lower the machine's film carriage. In the tower-like Q-Series for example the rollers are used in at least 10 model variations according to Bob Denley Lantech's director of mechanical engineering research & development. During the wrapping process the film carriage located on the machine's exterior moves up and down to deliver film to the pallet load which rotates on a nearby turntable. The movement of the film carriage is computer controlled using a variable-speed motor and high-torque belts. These components allow the carriage to ascend and descend along two structural steel posts located within the machine. Two rollers are positioned on each post directly across from one another. The entire component assembly makes for free rolling movement eliminating friction between the film carriage and posts during stretch wrapping. "These rollers replaced other rollers that we had used" explains Denley. "We made the switch for different reasons. Cost was one issue. Our manufacturing process was another. In the past we ordered components in batch quantities often with quarterly deliveries. Now we work on a just-in-time basis so component delivery is critical. We get deliveries on a weekly basis and operate via a partnering process with our vendors that's based on a system used by Toyota. We make commitments in terms of delivery volumes so the vendors can judge material expectations." Lantech is more than pleased with the performance of the new rollers. "By providing variable-speed control of the film carriage the top and bottom of every pallet load has the desired number of wrap layers strategically placed to contain and stabilize the load" says DeAnna Dessify Q-Series marketing manager. "The guide rollers allow the carriage to accurately follow computer program directions unhindered by friction. "We originally tried flat belt urethane rollers but surface contact between the rollers and the tube was not adequate to provide the needed carriage stability." Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene was also considered but deemed cost-prohibitive. "The injection-molded nylon guide rollers assure straight-line vertical travel of the stretch wrap film" Dessify notes. "Accurate vertical travel of the film as it serpentines around a rotating pallet load is crucial to securing and protecting the load. The friction-free roll carriage helps our machines attain high quality stable loads."