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Stretch wrapper keeps its cool

Keeping cool in the summertime is a full-time job in Texas. Friedrich Air Conditioning, San Antonio, TX, provides assistance in this endeavor by manufacturing self-contained commercial air-conditioners (AC) for various types of installations, including temporary construction sites and standalone school buildings, to name a few. The unique air-conditioning units are taller than Shaquille O'Neal?more than 7 ft?and weigh up to 490 lb, providing a new packaging challenge for Friedrich.

The new air-conditioner line, the wall-mount series, was introduced in March, '00 and includes seven different models. Before this product introduction, Friedrich was packing smaller air-conditioning units in corrugated cases and did not own a stretch-wrapping machine. With help from distributor Pack-Mark, Inc., Friedrich bought an Orion FA-66 fully automatic, rotary turntable, conveyorized stretch-wrap system. The system features a 4,000-lb load weight capacity, a programmable logic controller (PLC) from Allen-Bradley, structural steel components and powered roller conveyors.

With all of the units in the wall-mount product line weighing more than 200 lb, Ralph Fuentes, manufacturing engineer for the assembly line at Friedrich, needed a stretch wrapper that could convey the large air-conditioners to the wrapping station in a reliable manner. Fuentes says, "The main attraction to the system was the relative ease with which the stretch wrapper conveyed the wall-mount units. The motorized, powered rollers on the conveyor are very sturdy, and I really like that the operator is not getting involved with moving these units in the stretch-wrapping area."

The air-conditioner, pictured at the top, measures 24 x 48 x 90 in. Orion customized the FA-66 with a 12-in. mast-height extension for wrapping the upper section of the tall units. Friedrich bought the machine in September, '01, but the stretch wrapper was not connected to infeed and outfeed conveyor lines at that time. In June, '02, the stretch wrapper was integrated with the infeed and outfeed conveyors.

Moving time
After the wall-mount air-conditioner unit undergoes final inspection (proper freon distribution within the unit), it is placed on a 25 x 48-in. wooden pallet. Due to the large size of the units, one resides on each pallet. From the inspection system, the air-conditioner rolls forward on a gravity-fed, metal-roller infeed conveyor to the first station on the packaging line, the corner-board application area. Here, an operator manually places double-wall, 200-lb corrugated corner boards around the four corners of the unit. Supplied by Gaylord Containers, the corner boards are affixed with tape to the 90-deg edges, providing protection during distribution.

The turntable rotates while the film carriage moves up and down the tower, creating the stretch-wrapping action.

The unit moves forward on the infeed conveyor?manually moved forward?after placement of the corner boards and approaches the FA-66's motorized conveyor system. At this point, the infeed conveyor rises approximately 14 in. to meet the stretch wrapper's conveyor. The infeed conveyor tilts downward, and the pallet slides forward. From there, the conveyor moves the pallet to the wrapping station.

At the stretch-wrapping station, the pallet is secured on the turntable. The film carriage, after being loaded with 70-ga polyethylene stretch film, moves vertically up and down a stainless-steel tower while the turntable rotates. The combination of these two actions creates the stretch wrapping action. The stretch film is supplied by AEP Industries. Friedrich's packaging line is able to stretch-wrap 20 to 30 units per day.

The FA-66 comes equipped with Orion's Insta-Thread™ film-delivery system. The system provides simple loading of film into the carriage by opening a hinge that guides the film tail through to the rollers. Also, the Insta-Thread system provides prestretching of film to 245 percent by using two textured rollers inside the delivery system to stretch the film, with one roller turning faster. This prestretching cuts film

After wrapping, the film's tail is cut using an impulse hot-wire. The pallet then moves to an outfeed conveyor.

usage costs. Friedrich uses 84 ft of film for each unit, PD is told.

After the pallet is wrapped, it moves past a sensor that provides logistical information on the pallet to the PLC. From there, the wrapped pallet then travels 35 ft on an outfeed conveyor. At the end of the conveyor, a forklift operator picks up the unit and places it in storage.

For this new product introduction, Friedrich needed this "lift" to keep up with the new demands placed on its packaging operations. While shopping around for a stretch-wrap system, Fuentes saw an Orion video of the FA-66 and knew immediately that the system was the one to purchase, PD is told. With this successful installation and operations running smoothly, Fuentes and Friedrich feel cool as a cucumber in the Texas heat.

More information is available:

Pallet stretch wrapper: Orion Packaging Systems, Inc., 800/333-6556. Circle No. 264.

Stretch wrapper distributor: Pack-Mark, Inc., 210/494-1375. Circle No. 265.

PLC: Allen-Bradley, 414/382-2000. Circle No. 266.

Corrugated corner boards: Gaylord Containers Corp., 210/225-2901. Circle No. 267.

Stretch film: AEP Industries, Inc.,800/999-2374. Circle No. 268.

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