Overseeing 15 stretch-wrapping lift tables for Tracy, Calif.-based Basalite Concrete Products LLC, Special Projects Manager Fritz Anthes was ready for
Overseeing 15 stretch-wrapping lift tables for Tracy, Calif.-based Basalite Concrete Products LLC, Special Projects Manager Fritz Anthes was ready for a Îno-liftÌ alternative. Compliance with the Îwrap-to-palletÌ requirement of major home center accounts involved the use of lift tables to elevate pallets a few inches, allowing the wrapper’s film delivery head to place film below the pallet deck. To handle loads 3,500 lb. and up, especially on a 24/7 schedule during peak season, extensive machine maintenance was necessary Û a sizeable investment in addition to the initial equipment cost of $10,000 or more.
Thus, Anthes became an early convert to Lantech’s new Pallet-Grip system when establishing a new facility in Dixon, Calif. For less than 20 percent of a lift-table’s cost, the Pallet-Grip system offers reportedly maintenance-free technology that locks a load to a pallet with a ÎcableÌ of film formed on the bottom edge of the lowest wraps. Especially important is the fact that the Pallet-Grip cable extends just an inch or so below the deck of the pallet, Anthes observes, leaving the fork-truck through-holes open, so load containment is not compromised by forks ripping through the film.
A producer of packaged concrete and varieties of block, retaining wall stone, and pavers sold to major home centers and independent dealers, Basalite places a priority on premium packaging throughout its diverse operations. The Dixon plant joins a network of 11 west coast locations, including retail yards and aggregate properties, plus facilities sited from Denver to British Columbia.
The new plant includes two production lines for bagged product. One is among the first in the U.S. to use form/fill/seal packaging for dry mix concrete. Engineered by Premier Tech (Quebec), the form/fill/seal line can churn out 1,000-1,300 bags per hour, depending on size, using a 5.5-mil packaging material. This package improves housekeeping for our customers and protects the product from moisture absorption better than paper bags, Anthes explains. The other line, which uses conventional-seal paper packaging, runs at similar speed. Products range from 50-lb. bags of fence post mix to 94-lb. bags of Type S mortar. The bags are robotically palletized, then roller conveyed to the stretch wrappers.
In the course of planning Basalite’s Dixon facility, Anthes anticipated the lift-table dilemma: [It’s] costly on the front end, and no matter how well made, it’s going to be a maintenance issue in our environment. When he brought those concerns to xpedx, his machine and film supplier, the company introduced him to the (then-new) Pallet-Grip option for wrapping loads to pallets. The system attaches a load to the pallet with bottom wraps of film that have been twisted into a cable along the lower four to six inches of the web. The film cable is wrapped to the pallet with 50 percent higher wrap force as it is applied below the deck, while the remaining film web stays above the deck to secure the load.
Machines equipped with the system maintain a full 250 percent stretch, ensuring lowest operating cost and avoiding film penalty. A wrap force control on the machine is used to set force-to-pallet containment; and, the amount of film web twisted into cable also is subject to regulation.
Another feature of the two S1500 Lantech machines installed at the Dixon facility is mid-wrap top sheeting. The top-sheet dispenser permits high-throughput wrapping of 30-35 loads per hour with five-sided protection. We top-sheet during the winter months as a service to our customers, says Anthes, and applying it in the middle of the wrap cycle makes the load as close as you can get to waterproof.
The fully automatic top-sheet dispenser requires no operator intervention or heat-sealing. After one layer of stretch film has been applied to four sides of the load, the protective 2-mil. top sheet is added, then wrapping continues to trap the edges of the top sheet between layers of stretch film. The system automatically senses load height and positions the film head at the correct height before cutting it.
Securing the load with a final measure, Basalite elected to use Lantech’s optional hot-air sealing system that fuses the film tail to the load. Film tails can cause loads to snag, photoeyes to misread, or loads to unravel during shipping; and, sealing them is another value-added benefit for our customers, Anthes affirms.
The surface-seeking seal head is integrated with the machine’s cut/wipe arm. Eight independent nozzles individually find the load surface, accommodating up to two inches of irregularity, after which the nozzles direct hot air at the film tail. Wrap tension is maintained, since the film tail is sealed before cutting, Anthes notes. Basalite uses a minimum 75-gauge stretch film, as specified by its home-center customers.
The success of the Dixon plant’s wrap-to-pallet operation has prompted Basalite to introduce the Lantech system at other facilities. Pallet-Grip has been a great alternative to the lift tables. No complaints from our customers is a sure sign that they’re pleased, says Anthes. As a result, we’re adding a similarly equipped machine for our Carson City, Nev., plant. Û www.lantech.com