With the advent of the shipping pallet as the prevailing transport medium for packaged industrial and consumer goods over the past 50 years, a range of end-of-line packaging solutions has been developed to ensure proper protection of palletised goods. Transport packaging for pallets plays a key role in the global economy, not only assuring load stability and environmental compliance, but also providing ready adaptability to regulatory requirements and to ever changing demands in increasingly complex supply chain models.
Film packaging methods for pallets began in the mid-1960s with the development of shrink films. The method was discovered unintentionally by a well-known chemical resins supplier, headquartered in Germany, in the exploration of non-shrinking polymers. Shrink wrapping was, until the discovery of stretch hooding, the only available film hooding method. A decade passed before a US-based crude oil refiner and chemical resins supplier discovered the ingredients for a stretchable film. Stretch wrapping is today the most widely known film packaging method. The consumption of stretch wrapping film in Europe alone is estimated to be 1.2 million metric tons per year.
A hybrid of the two aforementioned methods was discovered in 1987 – stretch hooding. The initial idea for stretch hooding came as a result of observations made by a Beumer engineer at an airport: luggage on pallets was secured by a flexible net. With this idea, Beumer developed stretch hooding technology in close cooperation with film producers and installed the first stretch hooding system in Belgium in 1988 – marking the first time that development of a new pallet packaging method had been driven by a machinery supplier. Today, more than 2,200 stretch hood systems are operating around the world in more than 20 industries – and counting.
The real growth of this pallet packaging method began about 10 years ago, following significant improvements in resin composition that made it possible for stretch hood film to accommodate virtually any product that can be handled on a pallet.
Creating and Sustaining Value
The end of a packaging line is just the beginning of a journey for a company’s product – a journey through complex distribution channels carried out via multiple modes of transportation. Filled with risk, this journey carries the potential for significant but avoidable costs and for unfavourable impacts to a business and to its customers. Palletising and pallet packaging play a critical role in safeguarding product for delivery to and use by customers. If these points are met, the efficiency of the packaging line can be considerably increased. Poorly formed pallet loads, for example, can increase transportation costs and time-to-market. Similarly, non-optimised pallet packaging leaves pallet load unstable, making them especially vulnerable to tipping, spillage and damage. The costs can erode margins, while reputational costs can cut into a company’s market share. With the quality of business outcomes tied so closely to end-of-line packaging, it is imperative that a business understands which technology is the most sustainable both in economical and ecological terms, for the intended use.
Easy on Environment and Budget
Beumer stretch hooding systems represent the state-of-the-art in pallet packaging. Featuring class-leading control technology, modular design, and optimised packaging film handling, the stretch hooding system offers an incomparable range of pallet packaging options across a broad range of pallet packaging challenges and requirements. The end-of-line systems enable better business results for users and theirs customers, contributing to better returns on invested capital.
The advantages of stretch hooding in comparison to stretch wrapping:
- The combination of vertical and horizontal film forces ensures increased load stability.
- The packaging solution protects the palletised goods from theft.
- Precise budgeting due to exact film consumption
- Printable film
- Up to 170 pallets per hour possible
- Well suited for AGV or automated high-rack systems
- Consistent packaging quality
- No rotational forces by rotations on the product
- Up to 10 times fewer film replacements increase system availability
- Clear, transparent film improves product presentation and brand recognition.
- Fewer returns due to improved packaging
- Less manual intervention for touching up the packaging
The advantages of stretch hooding in comparison to shrink wrapping:
- No heating of film – reduces the risk of fire
- Reduced film consumption by up to 30 % and energy savings by 90 % – this means less environmental impact
- Higher flexibility of handling various product sizes
- No sprinkler system or additional cooling system for ambient temperature required
- Increased load stability
- The packaging solution protects the palletised goods from theft.
- 4- or 5-sided protection against external impacts
- Sound pressure level < 75 db (A)
- Reduced maintenance
Leading companies such as Holcim, Henkel, Becton Dickinson, Bayer, Nestlé, Kühne, Knauf, PCI, Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Fiege Logistics, and Pfizer – to name a few – use this stretch hooding system to meet the increasing requirements for transport packaging. Accommodating a large variety of packaging film thicknesses, the stretch hooding system is ideal for even pressure-sensitive products. And, with low specific energy consumption and compatibility with recyclable packaging films, the stretch hood system is a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable approach to pallet packaging.
How the Stretch Hood Method Works
Pallet loads to be packaged are conveyed to and automatically centered just before entry into the stretch hooding process. Once conveyed into the stretch hooding system, the pallet load height is measured by an ultrasonic sensor. The machine’s control system then determines the exact amount of film to dispense in order to form a finished stretch hood. The stretch hood film is in the form of a tube, gusseted on two sides, which is continuously fed into the machine by a film releasing trestle located at ground level. The film enters the machine from above, through articulated sealing rails. The film is opened to the required dimensions and presented to the crimping bows. The crimping bows have a large radius. Four individual, motor-driven rollers – directed by the machine control – crimp the film on the crimping bows, then roll out the amount of film prescribed by the initial ultrasonic measurement. The two sealing rails close above the crimping bows where the gusset remains folded. Heat-sealing the film tube at this point forms the top hood. The top seal is cooled, and then the crimping bows move out diagonally, to a point just beyond the corners of the pallet load, and begin their descent towards the base of the pallet load. The fully sealed and weatherproof top hood comes to rest on top of the pallet load.
The motorised rollers – used first to crimp the film – now move into the position for transferring the film, while gripping the film throughout this movement. The motorized rollers – used first to gather the film – now move precisely to transition the film off of each stretch horn, while controlling the film throughout this movement. The hood is stretched over the entire pallet load to a point under the pallet – where the rollers and crimping bow release the film, in a coordinated action, to form the understretch. The understretch completely secures the load onto the pallet in the vertical axis, something that neither shrink nor stretch wrapping can do. The film’s properties are such that the film stretches over the entire pallet load and then snaps back into place at the understretch, thus providing a better seal. This enables a better securing of the load on the pallet.
Evaluation of Added Value – BCPS Simulation Software
Every product has unique handling characteristics, requiring careful analysis to determine pallet packaging requirements. In line with the Beumer Packaging Consulting Service (BPCS), BEUMER offers an advanced cost-benefit calculator that affords users the opportunity to evaluate the total value of different packaging methods to their business including, among other factors, the nature and extent of potential savings as well as the total cost per pallet. Moreover, the cost over the complete service life is calculated.
In the majority of industrial and consumer product applications, the stretch hood method offers the best possible protection for pallet loads. This includes water-tight pallet packaging on five sides by horizontal tension, providing unmatched load stability and helping to protect the value of products throughout the supply chain.
The Future of Stretch Hood Technology. Today.
Ongoing development of and improvements in stretch hood films and pallet packaging processes have culminated in the next generation of stretch hood technologies – developed in close, innovative collaboration with multiple end-users, film producers, and packaging associations. The new generation of the Beumer stretch hood®, the i series, has been featured at the Pack Expo International 2010, 31 October through 3 November, in Chicago, Illinois (US), followed by its presentation at Interpack 2011 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The new generation ensures improved sustainability through less film consumption and greater energy efficiency. The Beumer stretch hood® i can be easily maintained thanks to the "one-for-all" maintenance plan. The intuitive HMI (Human-Machine Interface) concept simplifies operator interaction and enables quick, repeatable work of film. Operating parameters can be changed as well. Thanks to the machine’s compact design, the space required can be reduced by 50 %. Individual appointments for product testing in test facilities in Germany, the US, and Thailand can be made at any time with Beumer.
As a leading provider of pallet unitisation solutions, the global Beumer team offers made-to-measure solutions that accommodate the widest possible range of primary and secondary packaging formats. At Beumer , we listen closely to our customers and together with them identify unmet needs that are essential to their success. We then meet those needs with a combination of unmatched insight and applied technology, providing best-to-business solutions especially adapted to the customers.
Sven Borghoff is Senior Sales & Business Development Manager for the Beumer Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG and globally responsible for establishing and executing growth strategies for transport packaging solutions within the Beumer Group. He has more than 15 years of professional experience within the industry and has extensive international experience through prior assignments in Europe, North America and Asia.
The Beumer Group is an international leader in the manufacture of intralogistics for conveying, loading, palletising, packaging, sortation and distribution technology. Together with Crisplant a/s and the Koch Holding a.s., the Beumer Group employs about 2,000 people and achieves an annual turnover of about 375 million EUR. With its subsidiaries and sales agencies, the Beumer Group is present in many industries the world over.
Beumer Stretch Hood® i: Improved sustainability through less film consumption and greater energy efficiency.
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