Food Engineering

Stretchwrappers Keep Dairy Line Moovin

March 28, 2003
Smith Dairy, operated by Fred Meyer, America’s fifth largest grocery chain, no longer cries over spilled milk. Founded in 1948, the company uses five dairies to meet the high consumer demand for milk.

At the dairy’s Phoenix facility, where production expanded to 216,000 gallons of milk a day, there is no room for error. This includes the dairy’s packaging operation. But as production increased, stretchwrappers used to secure plastic milk bottles to pallets could not keep up. “Turntables twisted the pallet load, causing milk waste,” says George Clark, dairy manager. “We needed a stabilizing solution.”

He found the answer at a sister plant in Riverside, CA. This plant has used three rotary tower stretchwrappers manufactured by Orion Packaging Systems since being built five years ago. Orion MA-44 conveyorized tower wrappers help operations move along at peak efficiency. With reports of no lost time because of the these stretchwrappers, Clark purchased two MA-44s for his location.

Instead of wrapping pallets by spinning them on a turntable, pallets remain stationary while an overhead-mounted rotary wrapping arm revolves around the pallet, enclosing the load from top to bottom. It wraps loads up to 80 inches in height weighing as much as 4,000 pounds.

One hurdle was making sure each stretchwrapper would fit into production lines without disrupting flow. Orion engineers modified each unit to fit inside a 37-inch deep pit built for the dairy’s original stretchwrappers. At Smith, conveyor lines are at floor height, running from palletizers to the old stretchwrapper pits. Orion accounted for the pits, using computer-aided drafting and built stretchwrappers especially for Smith Dairy.

Clark notes three other benefits from the stretchwrappers. “We save wrap because of Orion’s MultiStretch powered pre-stretch film delivery,” Clark says. The MA-44s stretch film 450 percent, saving the dairy as much as 30 percent in the amount of wrap it uses.

Non-propriety parts make the units easy to maintain. Simplicity in keeping plant cleanliness standards is a third advantage. The machines’ freestanding, four-leg design allows easy access to all components.

“Packaging is no longer a concern,” concludes Clark. “We benefit from stretchwrap savings, and we love the absence of downtime.”

Orion Packaging Systems, 2270 Industrial, Montreal, ON, PQ H7S 1P9 CANADA. Tel.: 514-667-9769