Company: MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc.
Headquarters: Jasper, Indiana
Since 1954, MasterBrand has manufactured a wide selection of cabinetry products for major builders, dealers and retailers including Home Depot and Lowes and more. Their impressive portfolio of family brands includes Aristokraft, Decorá, Diamond and Fieldstone Cabinetry, among many others. MasterBrand’s commitment to quality and integrity has made them the largest manufacturer in North America one of the most trusted cabinetmakers nationwide.
While manufacturing retail cabinetry, Masterbrand’s packaging process included five manual stretch wrappers in various facilities but the company was looking for a better, safer and more consistent way to wrap 2,000 pallets a day for shipment to their distribution partners. Ronnie Cullison, Manufacturing Technology Manager at MasterBrand reached out to LINC Systems for ideas on automating their packaging line. Packaging Sales Specialist, Jeff Waymoth recommended an automated stretch wrap solution that would improve safety, ergonomics and productivity in their packaging processes.
“We’ve had a relationship with LINC Systems for years,” said Cullison. “We’ve had previous success with them on other installations and everything went as planned. I thought, ‘These guys do packaging? Let’s see what they can do for our stretch wrapping.’”
By automating their pallet wrapping process, MasterBrand wanted to improve processes and resolve several key issues:
- Save time: Get rid of a burdensome stand-alone process
- Increase productivity: Wanted to automate due to increasing volume (2,000 pallets a day)
- Improve consistency: Struggled with inconsistent throughput of loads
- Improve health & safety: Manual process not ergonomically friendly to team members
- Prevent height violations: Needed a way to measure the height of each pallet
- Re-allocate staff: Retrain team members for more effective tasks
- Retain employees: Decrease employee turnover and retain industry knowledge
Once Waymoth reviewed their current stretch wrapping process and manufacturing needs, he recommended that MasterBrand install a single automated stretch wrap system that included lift tables at each end of the packaging line for more consistent wrapping at both the top and bottom of the pallet load. This solution would reduce manual interactions, improve worker safety and ergonomics and create a more secure load.
In 2019, MasterBrand agreed to those recommendations and installed a total of six stretch wrap systems in various manufacturing facilities across the U.S. MasterBrand added customized pallet load lift tables, sensors and chose the 30-inch stretch wrap option. Installations were performed in Jackson, Georgia (2 systems), Fairdale, Kentucky (1 system), Carlisle, Pennsylvania (1 system) and Colton, California (1 system).
Pictured above: Installation in Jackson, Georgia.
By automating the packaging line, MasterBrand was able to reduce the physical strain experienced by their workers, improving safety and ergonomics on the production floor. In addition to improving worker safety, MasterBrand was able to refocus and retrain employees to key positions that added value to the organization and allowed employees opportunity for advancement. “We were able to move team members out of those manual labor jobs and put them in open positions where they could be more effective. We know this reduces the risk of turnover and helps us retain important industry knowledge within our company.”
MasterBrand had experienced time savings and improved efficiency with the automated stretch wrapping system. “When we had standalone manual wrappers, we had to allocate labor hours to each wrapping machine,” said Cullison. “Team members had to tie the wrap off, stand there and watch or assist the stretch wrap process. As a result, we struggled with inconsistent throughput and higher labor hours.”
Now, a pallet is fully wrapped every 52 seconds, dramatically improving throughput rates.
MasterBrand had experienced improved consistency in their pallet loads, resulting in fewer height violations and better product quality in transport. One example of this is maintaining height limits. Standard height limits for many trailers are 104 inches. If a pallet load were to exceed that height limit, it would require us to remove stretch wrapping, resize the load and re-apply stretch wrap before transport. “We wanted a solution that would allow us to measure early in the process and avoid exceeding height limits in the first place.”
Cullison noted a main reason they selected the automated stretch wrap system was for the pallet load lift function. “Our customers require us to wrap the pallet contents to the pallet itself and this is has proven to be inconsistent using a manual machine. The pallet load lift allows us to pick up the pallet and apply the stretch wrap to the entire load, including the pallet, for a more secure final load.”
More consistent wrapping strategies also ensured a better pallet load during transport. Once shipped, pallet loads arrive at various distribution centers to then again handled by forklifts. Compared to manual wrapping, the automated system ensured a more durable load that could hold up to ongoing movement and storage.
MasterBrand justified the purchase of the six single automated stretch wrap systems with significant labor cost reductions. The savings created from automating their stretch wrap process resulted in a two-year return on investment in the amount of one million dollars.
Not all business needs are the same. MasterBrand used the first installation to identify challenges and make adjustments that best suit their plant needs before purchasing the remaining five systems. “LINC Systems has a great design process,” said Cullison. “We sat down with them to discuss our needs. They knew the size of our pallets, the dimensions, the type of products and the speed we needed to wrap loads. They built their machines to fit our business. It was a smooth process.”
“They installed the equipment without any disruption to our business,” added Cullison. “Their installation team worked around our schedules, around the clock and weekends. They were creative and resourceful at working through some unforeseen challenges, got the supplies they needed to arrive on time and installed.”
Cullison appreciated LINC System’s customer service aspect upon installation and thereafter. “The install crews are great. Our plant guys have their numbers and can call anytime to troubleshoot or ask questions.”
“Jeff is great at follow up, he’s consistent and he gets exactly what we need,” added Cullison. “He’s always checking on us. I really like working with these guys.”
“When you talk about manual jobs versus machines and automation, a lot of people think that you put in these machines and you get rid of people - not today's world. We take our team members and put them in jobs that add more value to our business. This approach enables us to reduce turnover, retrain staff and retain industry knowledge while keeping our team in the building.”
- Ronnie Cullison, MasterBrand Manufacturing Technology Manager
See the video of the automated stretch wrapping system in action:
For packaging, fastening and industrial supplies, LINC Systems is your total solution.
About LINC Systems
For over 35 years, LINC Systems has been serving the industrial manufacturing industry with fastening products, pneumatic tools, automated packaging solutions and industrial supplies. LINC Systems offers tool repair, equipment installation and safety training to help business work safely and productively.
Learn more at LINCsystems.com or call at 800-513-9918.