How Automated Stretch Wrappers Can Reduce Packaging Costs and Improve Your Business

Date of post: November 09, 2020   By: Keith Gordon

Do you feel you’re always cutting it a little too close to the shipping deadline? Do employees complain there’s not enough time in the day? If you’re manually stretch wrapping your pallet loads, you may be costing your organization more than you think. The truth is manually wrapping loads is costing you time and money compared to the savings you could experience when you automate your end-of-the-line packaging process. Let’s explore a few of the ways you could improve production and worker safety, reduce costs, and improve the customer relationship with semi-automated or fully automated stretch wrappers.  

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6 Ways Automated Stretch Wrappers Can Cut Costs and Increase Productivity

Material Cost Savings

High-performance machines can pre-stretch the stretch film material by 250% or more. This means that for every foot of stretch film you would normally use to hand wrap a package, you can cover three-and-a-half times that amount with a stretch wrap machine. The material savings alone help justify the use of a stretch wrap machine over hand wrapping. In fact, most users have told us their stretch wrap machines have paid for themselves over the course of one to two years due to the reduction in material costs, while some have reported a return on investment in as little as a few months.  

To quantify these potential savings, let’s consider this example: If you were to start with a 20” x 6,000 ft roll of film and hand wrap a load, you wouldn’t achieve any stretch. That roll would remain 6,000 ft of film. If you used a machine to stretch wrap a load, the 6,000 ft roll would result in 21,000 ft of film.  

Now, let’s talk dollars and cents. If your 20” x 6,000 ft roll of stretch film costs $50 per roll and you hand wrap a standard size pallet with 10 revolutions of film — that load cost you $1.47 to wrap. If you attained 250% pre-stretch on that same roll, that load would cost you $.42 to wrap — a savings of $1.05 per load. Wrap 500 loads per week and that’s an annual savings of $27,300! Those savings can quickly justify the cost of a semi-automatic wrapper in just a few months.

Related: How to Choose High-Quality Stretch Film for Your Packaging Application

Labor Cost Savings

Another example of cost savings is the reduced labor rates from automating your stretch wrap process. Manual wrapping involves 100 percent direct labor, is time-consuming, and leaves room for human error. To reduce direct labor hours and costs, one solution may be to install semi-automatic wrapping machines. Workers would attach the stretch wrap to the pallet load, start the machine, and then cut the film tail at the end of the process. This would also allow the workers to focus on other tasks during the wrapping process.  

To achieve the lowest direct labor hours and costs, you can choose fully automatic wrapping equipment that requires no direct handling or manual labor. A conveyor system delivers the load to the automatic wrapping system which then wraps and cuts the load, weighs down the film tail, and transports the wrapped load to the staging area for pickup.

Enhanced Productivity Gains

Less productivity means less profitability. Automatic stretch wrapping machines enable workers to spend less time on manual and time-consuming repetitive tasks and more time on work that has a positive impact on the business. Not only can automating your packaging operations reduce labor hours, but it can improve efficiency throughout all of your processes.

Better Pallet Load Containment

Hand wrapping your palletized loads doesn’t offer the same tension and protection as an automated wrapping machine. Workers are unable to apply the consistent stretch force that a load requires during the shipping, transport, and storage phases, resulting in unbalanced loads that impact a load’s stability. Pallet loads that are unbalanced or have uneven weight distribution can result in a load tipping over, falling off of a skid, or collapsing during transport or storage. Unbalanced loads are also more susceptible to damage from shock, vibrations, or shifting in transit.

Improved Worker Safety

Manual pallet wrapping techniques are not only time consuming, but they can also be dangerous. When employees must handle large, heavy, or bulky items during manual wrapping, they are more apt to injure themselves in the process. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that workers often suffer more musculoskeletal disorders from bending, lifting, and twisting as well as cuts and lacerations when hand wrapping pallets (OSHA).

Improved Customer Relationships

No matter what operational changes you make, the number one indicator of your company’s success is the customer relationship. If your customers trust you to deliver the goods on time and as described, you’re already ahead of the competition. Automation can help solidify that trust. By fully automating the stretch wrapping process, you’ll experience a decrease in damaged goods during shipping. The product will arrive on your customer’s doorstep in the condition that was promised. A fully automatic stretch wrap machine also provides a level of quality and consistency that will improve customer satisfaction and ultimately, your reputation. The result? A better-wrapped pallet load leads to increased repeat business, better customer retention and opportunities for new business.

Manually wrapping your pallet loads may seem cost-effective at first, but hidden costs soon emerge. The costs associated with worker fatigue and injury, increased product replacement costs, lost productivity and damaged customer relationships can far outweigh the cost of automating your packaging process.

Learn more about industrial packaging solutions that may be right for your business.

LINC Systems is proud to carry a variety of industrial packaging products from top-rated brands like Wulftec, ABStretch, MS Plastics and IPG. To learn more about how stretch wrapping machines can improve your packaging applications and save you money, contact us today by calling 800-513-9918 or visit

Keith Gordon is a packaging sales representative for LINC Systems.

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