Research by Copdock Mill, based in Ipswich, a supplier of high quality pet and animal feed to clients throughout the South East and Midlands, has proved that the installation of four Rotoplat 507 pallet wrappers, from Aetna Group UK, was an excellent investment.
Derrick Ladbrook, distribution manager for Copdock Mill takes up the story, "We handle 150 pallets a day on average and, with 5,000 lines at any one time, the number of different products per pallet can vary enormously. So we needed machines which would be reliable, flexible and, most importantly, easy to programme for soft, hard or a combination of products."
The company researched various suppliers, taking several different makers’ machines on trial, including the Rotoplat. Four key programming criteria were specified to reflect the product mix:
• gentle lay on force to protect soft items such as hay or straw
• a tighter wrap for heavier sacked items such as bird seed and bulk feed
• a wrap to provide high security for heavy or unstable items or mixtures of many different items on one pallet
• a short programme for low pallet loads
"Everything on the Rotoplats can be set on the keyboard and the programme locked," continued Mr Ladbrook. "Some other machines we tried used a potentiometer to adjust the tension and wrap cycles and this meant there was a risk that operators could alter the programming, causing delays and possibly unstable or insecure loads."
An added benefit of the Rotoplat investment has been a significant saving on wrapping material costs. The company purchased more than 19 tonnes in 2007/8 and this reduced to just over 12 tonnes in the year to November 2009, a 38 per cent cut in consumption of plastics. The company increased its turnover by 11 per cent year on year.
"Our primary concern is security and protection of the products," explained Mr Ladbrook. "We supply many premium brands to a wide variety of outlets and often the pallets can travel over 300 miles before delivery. Much of the feed is in paper sacks so weatherproofing is important too." Maximum load per pallet is 1.5 tonnes.
Operators from Copdock Mill were given training on the machines at Aetna Group UK’s facility near Bedford and this enables them to undertake basic routine maintenance as well as operating the wrappers safely and efficiently.
"The machines have proved very reliable," concludes Mr Ladbrook, "We have only had one breakdown all year and this was dealt with inside 24 hours."