Capturing data and making it actionable is at the heart of most controls, Information Technology, and integrated automation initiatives out there today.
Canadian bottled water marketer Ice River Springs of Feversham, Ontario, has hit upon a great method for monitoring the performance of its stretch-wrapping machines and sharing the data in real time with whomever needs to see it. It’s called MUST, for Materials Usage Standard Tracking, and it was invented and patented by Atlantic Packaging. Since implementing it in all nine of its bottling facilities, the firm has seen a system-wide film savings of nearly 30%.
It’s all about eliminating the unknown in wrapping costs. It involves a main monitor installed to the exterior of the stretch wrapper controls cabinet that allows plant personnel to view stretch-wrapping operations data in real time as pallets are being wrapped. All of this data is sent via wireless transmitter signal to the radio receiver in the main panel.
The pallet wrap film used by Ice River Springs is a 71-ga material. “This is a step down from the 80-ga film we were using in the past,” says Ice River Springs corporate purchasing manager Shelley Orwin. The downgauging means the pallet wrap patterns become more crucial than ever. “With the MUST monitoring system, we are able to ensure consistent, proven patterns, making it much easier to have faith in the lighter gauge film.”
Operators can review average amounts of film used daily or hourly, number of wrap revolutions per pallet, total pounds of film used, total number of film breaks, total roll changes, and total number of pallets wrapped. These averages indicate how close to benchmarked wrapping the system is performing, what adjustments need to be made, and how film inventory needs to be managed.
All of the wrapping data captured by the MUST monitors can be viewed locally in the plant as well as on the Atlantic Packaging Web site. This data can be accessed at any time by those authorized to do so. In addition, email alerts can be sent out whenever wrapping falls out of spec. And 24-hour daily reports summarize the last day’s production and wrapping.
In addition to the film savings, pallet load failures have been mitigated and wrap cycle times have been reduced. Plus, Ice River Springs packaging machine maintenance personnel now have much greater understanding of and control over wrapper maintenance, thus slashing downtime.