boat and shipping container

The Purpose of Stretch Wrapping

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    In the complex landscape of contemporary shipping and logistics, where the safe and efficient transportation of products is of the utmost importance, the stretch wrap machine emerges as a crucial solution that addresses the challenges of load stability and packaging precision.

    This automated marvel, also known as a stretch packaging machine, streamlines the process of securing products to pallets with precision and dependability.

    Stretch wrap machines offer a comprehensive solution to improve the safety, integrity, and presentation of products during transport by employing cutting-edge technology and innovative design. This article explores the concept and mechanics of stretch wrap machines, casting light on their importance as a shipping solution.

    A stretch wrap machine facilitates the task of securing palletized loads, thereby serving as a cornerstone in the packaging and transportation industry. The process entails placing the pallet of goods on the machine's platform or turntable, which then rotates while the machine dispenses and stretches the stretch wrap film around the load.

    The elasticity of the plastic film enables it to securely conform to the items, thereby creating a secure and stable unit that prevents shifting, toppling, and damage during transport.

    The automation of this process not only improves productivity, but also ensures uniform tension and coverage of the stretch wrap, resulting in a consistently secured cargo that complies with safety regulations and minimises the risk of product damage.

    Stretch wrap devices provide a number of benefits that make them indispensable for businesses involved in shipping and logistics. Reducing labour costs and manual packaging time is one of the most significant benefits.

    By automating the wrapping procedure, businesses are able to allocate their human resources to more value-added tasks, thereby increasing operational efficiency.

    Moreover, stretch wrap machines provide consistent tension and uniform wrapping, which is difficult to accomplish consistently with manual methods. This uniformity not only improves load stability, but also contributes to a professional and orderly presentation, which reflects favourably on the company's brand image.

    The Importance of Stretch Wrapping

    Stretch wrapping serves multiple purposes, primarily consolidating individual items into a single, transportable unit. This method of packaging not only makes transportation easier but also protects the goods from damage, ensuring they reach their final destination in their original condition.

    This, in turn, lowers costs associated with returns, administrative tasks, and unsatisfied customers.

    Stretch wrapping became a preferred method for unitising products for shipment in the 1970s and is commonly used in manufacturing, distribution, and storage sectors.

    Preparing the Load: The Initial Step

    Before initiating the stretch-wrapping process, it's essential to assemble the goods correctly on a pallet. Placement of items should neither exceed four inches inboard nor hang over the sides of the pallet. Also, the pallet should be in top-notch condition to ensure secure shipping.

    Load Anchoring Techniques

    Proper anchoring of the load to the pallet is critical to the stretch-wrapping process. While wrapping the pallet all the way to its base can seem like an effective method, it increases the risk of film tearing due to interactions with forklifts or pallet jacks. This approach preserves the integrity of the film and decreases the risk of load failure.

    Methods of Stretch Wrapping

    There are primarily three techniques used to stretch wrap a pallet load:

    Manual Stretch Wrapping: 

    This involves an operator wrapping the pallet load manually with stretch wrap film. Though it might seem straightforward, manual wrapping is physically demanding and prone to inconsistencies. It generally results in higher material costs due to inefficient film utilisation.

    Semi-Automatic Stretch Wrapping: 

    These machines are available in both turntable and straddle designs. While turntable models rotate the pallet load to apply the film, straddle models keep the load stationary and use a wrap arm that moves around it. Semi-automatic stretch wrappers are particularly useful for loads that are either too heavy, too light, or unstable.

    High-Speed Automatic Stretch Wrapping: 

    These machines, like their semi-automatic counterparts, automate the wrapping process but include additional features such as in-feed and exit conveyors to move pallets through the machine automatically.

    Various features can be added to semi-automatic machines to enhance their automation level, including automatic film cutting and clamping mechanisms and remote start lanyards for fork truck operators.

    Understanding the mechanics of stretch wrapping is crucial for optimising both the process and the final results. The right technique and equipment can ensure cost-effective, efficient, and secure wrapping, ultimately benefiting both businesses and consumers.

    Safety Protocols for Operating Pallet Wrapping Machines

    warehouse with workers and large wood pallets1

    Pallet wrapping machines are sophisticated pieces of industrial equipment that demand appropriate training for operators, including stringent safety measures. Abiding by certain fundamental guidelines can significantly mitigate the risks of injuries and other safety-related issues. The ensuing sections delineate key safety protocols.

    Mitigating Trip Hazards Around the Turntable

    Upon installation of a pallet wrapping machine, it's paramount to ascertain that the area underneath the machine's turntable is devoid of objects like electrical cables. Such items can act as potential trip hazards. An operator stumbling over such obstructions, especially while the machine is in operation, may incur grievous bodily harm.

    Identifying and Avoiding Pinch Points

    Firstly, one might wonder what a pinch point is. In the context of industrial machinery, a pinch point is a specific area where a person's body or appendages could be trapped or squeezed between moving or immobile components.

    Operators must remain attentive and ensure their fingertips are far removed from these pinch points. If possible, one should opt for a model of pallet wrapper designed without pinch points.

    Risk Assessment Questions for Pinch Points and Other Dangers

    Addressing a set of pertinent questions can help in avoiding pinch points and other hazards:

    1. Does the cargo sit comfortably on the turntable or protrude excessively? An acceptable amount of overhang is permissible but should be minimal.
    2. Is there ample clearance between the corner of the load and the mast? The mast is the tall, slender section of the machine bearing the control panel. Insufficient space between the load and the mast constitutes a safety risk.
    3. Would one feel at ease standing between the mast and the turntable during operation? If the answer is negative, it implies the need for load adjustment.
    4. Is it possible to load film into the roll carriage without inserting fingertips between the rollers?
    5. Is a safety cut-off switch included in the machine’s features? This feature is highly recommended for enhanced safety.

    Machines with Built-In Safety Mechanisms

    Certain pallet wrappers come with belt-driven, counterweighted roll carriages, which act as built-in safety mechanisms. If an obstruction is encountered, these machines will automatically power down, thereby protecting both the machine and the operator.

    Addressing Load Containment Issues

    Several variables can cause a load to become unstable, resulting in improperly wrapped pallets. Dislodged products during transportation or load shifting due to turbulence often require manual intervention for readjustment.

    To mitigate these issues, some manufacturers provide software options that enable customisation of the wrap pattern based on different cargo types. This not only ensures appropriate load containment but also enhances the repeatability of each wrapping cycle.

    Handling Wrapped Loads Safely in a Warehouse Environment

    Even after successful wrapping, pallet loads can still present safety hazards if improperly managed. Once a pallet has been wrapped, it should be secured with the right containment materials. However, if one inadvertently pierces the film using the forks of a forklift, the load stability will be compromised, necessitating rewrapping.

    By adhering to these safety guidelines, operators can significantly minimise risks and ensure a more secure and efficient working environment.

    What Is An Automatic Stretch Wrapper?

    An automated stretch wrapper is a machine that wraps a pallet cargo with stretch film according to predetermined parameters. After the wrapping cycle is complete, the machine cuts the stretch film precisely and attaches the tail to the cargo. This means that automatic wrappers can manage nearly every step of the wrapping application by themselves. 

    This procedure reduces the amount of time operators must spend operating a forklift, thereby improving both safety and productivity. In addition to this significant advantage, we will discuss several additional benefits of stretch wrappers below.

    Save Time and Energy

    An investment in a wrapping machine can save a considerable quantity of time for a business. Hand-wrapping pallets or boxes can be time-consuming, especially if your business has constant packaging requirements. The time and effort saved by an automated stretch wrapper can be invested in enhancing other business processes or completing a greater number of tasks.

    Enhance Consistency

    Your brand's packaging is likely the first thing that retailers and consumers see. A stretch wrapping system ensures the consistency and quality of your volume packaging. Automatic stretch wrappers package each pallet identically, whereas manual wrapping may fluctuate. This will result in enhanced protection and a more streamlined appearance for all products.

    Protect Your Products

    Numerous environmental factors, such as dust, moisture, and grime, can harm your products on the road. Stretch film securely wrapped around your containers will provide a layer of protection without obstructing product visibility.

    Reduced Costs

    Electric wrappers may require an initial investment, but cost savings is one of the greatest long-term advantages.

    Automatic stretch wrappers utilise a two-film thread roller system, with the second roller operating at a faster speed than the first in order to extend the film.

    This not only increases the tensile strength of the film, but also reduces its overall cost.

    A machine is also less likely to make errors than a manual process, reducing the likelihood that you will need to redo any work.

    Enhance Productivity

    Last but not least, automatic stretch closures enable your business to complete additional projects in less time. Simply placing the pallet on a conveyor will automatically initiate or stop the wrapping process. In the interim, your employees can work diligently on other duties.


    Stretch wrapping is an important way for the shipping and logistics business to secure palletized loads with precision and dependability.

    To do this, you put the pallet on a machine's base or turntable, which turns while the machine wraps the stretch wrap film around the load and stretches it.

    The flexibility of the plastic film lets it wrap around the things securely, making a safe and stable unit that won't move, fall over, or get damaged during transport.

    Stretch wrap devices have a lot of benefits, such as lowering labour costs and the time it takes to package things by hand, making operations more efficient, and making sure the wrapping is always tight and uniform.

    This unity not only makes the load more stable, but it also makes it look more professional and organised, which is good for a company's brand image.

    Understanding how stretch wrapping works is important for getting the best results and making the process go as smoothly as possible. Pallet wrapping tools must be run by people who have been trained well and who follow strict safety rules.

    Pallet wrapping machines can pose a number of safety risks, such as trip dangers around the turntable, pinch points, and problems with keeping the load in place. To reduce these risks, operators should make sure there are no electrical wires or other things in the area under the machine's turntable.

    To avoid pinch spots, operators should check how comfortable the load is, how much space there is between the load and the mast, and how easy it is to stand between the mast and the turntable.

    Some pallet wraps have built-in safety features, like belt-driven, counterweighted roll carriages that turn off by themselves if they hit something. Load containment problems can be fixed by making software choices that let wrap patterns be changed based on the type of cargo.

    close up shot of a forklift in action lifting

    Automated stretch wrappers are machines that wrap pallets with stretch film based on factors that have already been set. This saves operators time and energy. They also make things more consistent, protect goods from things in the environment, cut costs, and make people more productive.

    Automatic stretch wrappers use a method with two film thread rollers. This makes the film stronger and lowers the overall cost. They are less likely to make mistakes than processes that are done by hand, and they can finish more jobs in less time. By following these safety rules, workers can reduce risks and make sure they have a safe and productive place to work.

    Content Summary

    • Stretch wrap machines are integral to the modern shipping and logistics sector, providing stability and precision in packaging.
    • They work by rotating pallets while dispensing and stretching a plastic film around the goods.
    • One of the machine's key features is the elasticity of the film, which adapts to the shape of the items for a secure fit.
    • Automation in stretch wrapping not only increases efficiency but also ensures uniform tension, reducing the risk of damaged goods.
    • The automated system helps in cutting down labour costs and manual packaging time, allowing employees to focus on value-added tasks.
    • Uniform wrapping by machines enhances a company’s brand image, presenting goods in a professional and orderly manner.
    • Stretch wrapping originated in the 1970s and is a popular method in the manufacturing, distribution, and storage sectors.
    • Before initiating the process, the correct assembly of goods on the pallet is crucial.
    • Items should not hang over the pallet's sides or exceed four inches inboard.
    • Manual stretch wrapping is generally inconsistent and physically demanding.
    • Semi-automatic stretch wrapping machines offer turntable and straddle designs for various load conditions.
    • High-speed automatic machines come with additional features like in-feed and exit conveyors for improved automation.
    • Safety protocols are essential when operating these industrial machines, including specific training for operators.
    • Potential trip hazards like electrical cables should be removed from beneath the machine's turntable.
    • Pinch points in the machine could trap or squeeze an operator’s body parts.
    • Key risk assessment questions help operators avoid pinch points and other dangers.
    • Some machines come with safety mechanisms like belt-driven, counterweighted roll carriages.
    • In the event of an obstruction, these safety mechanisms shut the machine down automatically.
    • Load containment can be compromised by factors like dislodged products or turbulence during transport.
    • Customised wrap patterns, available from some manufacturers, help in ensuring proper load containment.
    • After wrapping, loads must be secured with appropriate containment materials.
    • Accidental puncture of the film by forklift forks can compromise load stability.
    • An automatic stretch wrapper manages almost every step of the wrapping process autonomously.
    • Automated systems reduce the time operators must spend operating a forklift, thus improving safety.
    • Automatic stretch wrappers can significantly save time for businesses with constant packaging needs.
    • They provide a consistent and quality appearance for volume packaging.
    • Stretch film offers protection against environmental factors like dust, moisture, and grime.
    • Though they require an initial investment, electric wrappers lead to long-term cost savings.
    • Automatic stretch wrappers use a two-film thread roller system to extend the film, increasing tensile strength and reducing cost.
    • Machines are less prone to errors than manual processes, reducing the need for rework.
    • The automatic system enables businesses to complete more projects in less time.
    • Automated wrappers start or stop the wrapping process upon the pallet's placement on a conveyor.
    • Automation allows employees to focus on other important duties.
    • A well-wrapped pallet lowers costs associated with returns, administrative tasks, and customer dissatisfaction.
    • Stretch wrapping serves to consolidate individual items into a single, transportable unit.
    • It not only simplifies transportation but also protects the goods from damage.
    • Proper load anchoring is critical and involves techniques that go beyond merely wrapping the film around the base.
    • Semi-automatic machines are useful for loads that are too heavy, too light, or unstable.
    • High-speed automatic machines can include features like automatic film cutting and clamping mechanisms.
    • Built-in safety mechanisms protect both the operator and the machine if an obstruction is encountered.
    • Some manufacturers offer software options to customise the wrap pattern according to the type of cargo.
    • Improperly managed wrapped loads in a warehouse can still present safety hazards.
    • Correctly using an automatic stretch wrapper enhances both safety and productivity.
    • Investing in a wrapping machine saves considerable time and effort, enhancing overall business processes.
    • The machine ensures uniformity in packaging, thereby protecting the brand image.
    • Environmental factors during transport can be effectively mitigated by securely wrapped stretch film.
    • Long-term cost savings are a significant advantage of using electric automatic stretch wrappers.
    • Automated stretch systems enable a higher level of productivity, allowing employees to concentrate on other important tasks.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Stretch Wrap is a thin, stretchable plastic film that is often made from polyethylene. It is used to lock and secure products onto a pallet. The stretch film is wrapped around the pallet, applying tension and enabling the film to extend its length, creating a force that allows it to be held in place. 

    Paper wrapping is not recommended; it can catch and tear off in mail processing equipment. Parcels (including fragile items) should be prepared to withstand normal mail processing and transportation. Contents can be padded with newspaper, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, tissue and ink-free packing paper.

    While there is no evidence to suggest that the newer, reformulated plastic wraps leach harmful compounds into food, keeping the wrap at least 1 inch from food surfaces will eliminate any potential risk.

    When you use the right stretch wrapping machine, it will ensure that your goods are securely wrapped to avoid any potential damage from dirt, dust, or moisture.

    If a car has high quality or factory paint job, car wrapping will do two things really well for it: cover it and protect it. There's no need to fear you might damage the paint. In fact, the vinyl will act as a barrier between the paint and weather exposure, rocks and other debris, and the normal wear of time.

    Scroll to Top