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Aetna automates wrapping for WB Group’s doors

WB Group manufactures an excellent product, and ensuring that the goods reach their destinations in the same pristine condition that they leave the factory floor is a priority. Consequently, utmost care has always been taken with the packaging that plays a vital role in achieving this aim.

The company, based in Chester le Street in County Durham, was founded in 1981 by Kevin Craggs; it started its life as a family concern, and remains so to this day run by his son, Tony. The company has grown exponentially since the early days, and now has seven factories on the same site manufacturing different components of the end products – high quality PVCu and composite doors, windows and door panels.

"Our products are much sought after in the north of England and Scotland," comments Tony Craggs. "WB Group’s 75 employees make to order, selling, manufacturing and delivering in excess of 200 doors per week, straight to domestic installers. We make all the infill and glass panels ourselves in other factories on the same industrial estate, which makes us flexible and self-sufficient, and releases us from dependence on other suppliers – for example, much of the glass used by other manufacturers is imported from China, from where journey time may be subject to outside forces. We also use our own transport, which gives us reliability and a tighter control of delivery times."

Wrapping the doors prior to delivery is essential to ensure that the goods reach their destinations in good condition. Until recently, WG Group was carrying out this operation by hand, by laying the door on a sheet of film on a bench, ‘flipping’ it on the film several times until it was totally covered, and shrink-wrapping the film with a heat gun. This two-man job was time consuming, awkward, and the use of heat guns always creates health and safety issues. It was time to modernise.

Not having first-hand knowledge of automated wrapping machines, the WB Group Management team undertook some intensive on-line research and identified the Aetna Group as a potential supplier of a suitable wrapper. This international company builds and sells a range of automatic and semi-automatic wrapping machines and has subsidiaries across Europe; its UK subsidiary is in Bedford.

Having been established in this country for over 20 years, Aetna has built a reputation as a market leader in the production of automatic wrapping machines for a wide range of applications – vertical and horizontal stretch wrapping machines, manual, semi-automatic and automatic shrink wrapping machines and five taping and case erector machines.

"Having identified a potential supplier, we wanted to see a machine in action before we made the final decision," Tony Craggs goes on to explain. "Happily, one of our industry contacts was already using an Aetna machine, and invited us along to see it put through its paces. After this, we were convinced."

C raggs contacted Aetna, and the Rotoplat DW507 machine was installed early in 2014. Initially it is being used to wrap only one product – the doors, and it has reduced the time for this procedure to a mere one minute. The intention is now to extend its use to WB Group’s other products in the near future.

"We chose to buy our wrapping machine from Aetna mainly as a result of recommendation, and I have been very impressed with the service we’ve had from them," Tony Craggs finishes by saying. "From ordering the machine to installation took only four weeks, and this included the Christmas holiday break. The process was simple from start to finish; it took a mere 3 hours to install and a further 3 hours of instruction for the operator to get to grips with the procedure. Although it’s too early to quantify specific financial benefits, the wrapping process has been speeded up and there is a distinct reduction in the amount of film used.

"We are looking to expand the use of automated wrapping to all our production; this may involve further investment, and we would have no hesitation in buying another machine from Aetna."

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