Retailer – Pallet Wrapping and Pallet Handling

Project Overview

We were approached by one of the large food & grocery retailers to discuss their distribution centre operations and see if we could provide an automated solution and improve their productivity.

Their existing operation was highly labour intensive involving the construction of mixed goods and produce pallets. These came in varying dimensions and could be up to two metres tall or as small as one metre on the half-sized Dusseldorf-type pallets.

Sector: Retailer - Food & Grocery

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The weight of the loads also varied immensely, together with the build quality, which was a crucial aspect they wanted to improve. We were therefore looking at a wrapping solution that could handle anything and everything. Another area they sought to improve was the load stability post wrapping, to enable secure transportation away from the site. In many instances, the self-wrapped pallets would fall over within the lorry and create a time-consuming headache for the operators to resolve.   

What we achieved…

After careful assessment of their operation and how it was functioning, we proposed a bespoke wrapping line that was able to accommodate a huge variation in pallet type and build quality.

We came up with a solution for a low-level conveyor line which was capable of being loaded and unloaded by operator-driven pallet trucks. With a large warehouse, the need to minimise transport time of the ‘operator picked’ loads from one location to another was obvious. Having established their requirements, we designed infeed and outfeed conveyors to be capable of accepting varied loads ranging from one standard pallet up to three full pallets simultaneously. The pallets would then proceed down the line individually for wrapping, before being accumulated at the outfeed for unloading in the required quantities.

The operation was then capable of efficiently creating outgoing lines at the despatch bays that were well-wrapped and ready for immediate loading.

Benefit 1

The company quickly realised the time and quality advantages of automatic wrapping. The pallets could be positioned on the infeed by ‘build and fetch’ operators, who were then free to return to the warehouse and start a new pallet.

Benefit 2

These operators had previously been responsible for hand wrapping each pallet. The operation of the line is automatic once pallets have been placed on it, meaning that operators are not required to stay with the machine.

The operators are then free to resume pallet building without the delay of having to wrap pallets by hand.

Benefit 3

Once the wrapped pallets proceeded to the outfeed conveyors, they could be immediately collected by either FLT drivers or PPT operators. Or they would wait for a resource to become available to collect them. This meant that either multiple or single pallets could be collected by individual operators. If the conveyor line reached capacity then the operation would pause, before automatically resuming when accumulated pallets were collected. This provided obvious economies of time and resources.         


“We realised many economies of scale and found staff to be happier and more efficient in their work. The problem of loads shifting during transportation was solved.

“Another consequence of the automatic wrapping line was the ability to reduce the overall quantity of film used as the ability to pre-stretch film was realised. This in itself represented a significant cost saving in time and resources.” 

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