Semi-Automatic vs. Automatic Stretch Wrappers: Which Is Right for Your Packaging Line?

Semi-Automatic vs. Automatic Stretch Wrappers: Which Is Right for Your Packaging Line?

Stretch wrapping is an essential part of distribution and shipment processes across a range of industries. Securing loads and protecting them from the elements relies heavily upon quality stretch wrapping. While warehouses each have their own way of wrapping and preparing pallets for shipping, some methods are superior. 

Hand-wrapping, for example, is not an effective solution as it can lead to contaminating products or wrapping in such a way that products might get damaged in storage or transportation. It is far more effective to use semi-automatic or fully automatic stretch wrappers. Both have their advantages when it comes to efficiency and safety, and either may offer the ideal packaging solution for your enterprises. Either way, finding the right stretch wrapper for your pack line is essential. 

The Vital Role of Stretch Wrappers in Packaging

Stretch wrappers, also called pallet wrappers, are devices that wrap pallets in stretch film. Various industries use stretch wrappers to secure and protect goods for storage and transportation. Using a stretch wrapper helps ensure the stability and protection of the load by distributing weight effectively and keeping the product secured. Stretch wrap also helps protect items from dust and moisture. 

Stretch-wrapping machines can significantly improve operational efficiency in warehouses, especially compared to hand-wrapping.

The Mechanics of Stretch Wrapping Technology

Semi-automatic and automatic wrapping machines are remarkable in how smart and efficient they are. A semi-automatic stretch wrapper can secure pallet film around a load automatically according to an appropriate pre-selected program. However, a human operator must place the pallet on the turntable and secure the film onto the load before pushing the “Start” button. Semi-automatic stretch wrappers may be ideal if you only have a few hundred loads or less a day. 

Fully automatic wrappers are far more sophisticated. The operator places the pallets on an infeed conveyor and they are processed automatically through the wrap zone with no remote. An automatic stretch wrapper has a photo-eye, which it uses to assess the pallet’s size and determine the best wrapping program. The machine will also secure the film itself before it starts wrapping. If your operations depend on being able to wrap a large number of loads daily, a fully automatic stretch machine is your best bet.

Types of Stretch Wrappers

With a wide selection of stretch wrappers to choose from, it’s important to know some crucial differences when it comes to various models and their applications. There are also various types of semi-automatic and automatic stretch wrappers, and even within these categories, there are distinct stretch wrappers suited to different applications. 

A key difference in machines is rotary arm versus turntable stretch wrappers. Rotary stretch wrappers employ a rotating arm to do all the work wrapping the load, while the load remains stationary. Semi-automatic and automatic rotary arm stretch wrappers are available. Since the load is completely stationary, rotary arms stretch wrappers are an ideal option if you are working with unstable loads — whether they are too light, heavy or tall. 

An automatic rotary arm stretch wrapper like the Lantech SL model, which features advanced Load Guardian technology, also simplifies the setup process and helps secure heavy loads like oversized pallets and cabinets efficiently. 

With turntable stretch wrappers, the turntable rotates to spin the product for the film to wrap around the load. Automatic turntable stretch wrappers also cut and secure film, and allow you to configure settings, making each load secure while speeding up workflow. A Lantech Q Series stretch wrapper is an excellent choice if you would like to optimize your warehouse.

Finally, it is worth keeping in mind that if you have a specific application, you can customize the types of stretch film you use with your stretch wrapper. This includes post-consumer recycled content (PCR) stretch film like Malpack Loop stretch film that is puncture, tear and cling resistant as well as sustainable. You can get special types of film for UV protection, color coding and other applications.

Semi-Automatic and Automatic Stretch Wrapper Benefits

Depending on your business needs, a semi-automatic or fully automatic stretch wrapper could meet your needs. Both offer these undeniable advantages:

  • You can save time compared to wrapping pallets by hand, allowing employees to focus on other processes and boost their productivity where it is needed most.
  • Your operations also become more efficient as you can complete more tasks.
  • Semi-automatic and automatic stretch wrappers help you maintain consistency with your bulk packaging. You enjoy high-quality finishes throughout, and every item is packaged the same.
  • Stretch wrapping your products helps you keep your items protected from dirt, dust and moisture in storage and during transportation.
Semi-Automatic and Automatic Stretch Wrapper Benefits
  • You may use less stretch wrapping materials thanks to the consistency of the stretch wrappers. This may also help your business move toward sustainability as the precision of automatic or semi-automatic systems reduces material waste.

Semi-Automatic vs. Automatic Stretch Wrappers

Understanding when to use semi-automatic stretch wrappers versus their fully automated counterparts can help you meet your business’s demands. The key difference is that human operators are still quite involved in the process when using semi-automatic stretch wrappers. Some other factors you can consider to determine which stretch wrapper suits your specific business needs include:

  • Speed and efficiency: One of the greatest advantages of automatic pallet wrappers is their speed. If productivity and saving time are major factors for your operations, a fully automatic stretch wrapper is ideal.
  • Flexibility: If adaptability and customization are important for you, consider a semi-automatic that you can preload with various settings. Low-profile machines are also best for adaptability.
  • Quantity: The size of your operation is one of the most important deciding factors. Semi-automatic wrappers can work well for small to medium operations, while large-scale businesses will likely need fully automatic stretch wrappers to meet demand.
  • Safety enhancements: Though both stretch wrappers are safe to use under the guidance of qualified staff, fully automatic stretch wrappers are more remote, which can be safer.
  • Costs: One of the most noticeable advantages of semi-automatic stretch wrappers is that they are much more cost-effective initially. But for large operations, return on investment versus initial costs makes investing in a fully automatic pallet wrapper worth it.

Optimized Packaging With Viking Plastic Packaging, Inc.

Optimized Packaging With Viking Plastic Packaging, Inc.

Your packaging line and operations depend significantly on stretch wrappers for your goods. Whether you opt for a semi-automatic or fully automatic pallet wrapper, Stretch wrapping is a vital and effective way of securing them and protecting items for storage and transportation. Making your pallet wrapping operations as efficient and cost-effective as possible is critical to improving this part of your supply chain.

At Viking Plastic Packaging, Inc., we are committed to excellence in packaging solutions and believe in a proactive approach so you can build a streamlined and highly efficient packaging line. With Viking Plastic Packaging, Inc., you can seamlessly integrate industry-leading technology into your processes for effective automation and optimized operations.

We offer all your packaging solution essentials, including a diverse range of new and used equipment options, as well as packaging materials and other consumables to suit your industry needs. We also offer parts and services, including OEM-certified technical support. Additionally, when you purchase one of our machines, we offer training from our skilled technicians so your team is confident operating the machinery.

Reach out to us today for a personalized consultation from one of our packaging solution experts!