The Benefits Of Automation In Shrink Wrapping

Stuart Pritchard July 29, 2019

GLYN JOHNSON, Managing Director at Yorkshire Packaging Systems, discusses the trend for automation in the shrink wrapping industry…

Yorkshire Packaging Systems are the leading UK supplier of shrink wrapping equipment, with more than 40 years experience in the packaging industry.

Due to technological advancements, what was once a high-end shrink wrapping machine is now entry-level. For example, our semi-automatic models were amongst our most popular solutions and we were installing several every month, yet there are now fewer and fewer orders placed for these machines. Increasingly we are supplying fully automatic machines which run at faster speeds, with more options for configuration, all without the need for an operator at the infeed. Due to hi-tech advancements it is now possible for us to automate more applications than ever before and cater these machines to more customers.


The trend towards increased automation appears to correlate with the rising cost of labour in the UK

This trend towards increased automation appears to correlate with the rising cost of labour in the UK. Many businesses that approach us have concluded that an investment in automated machinery represents a short payback and improved ROI when compared with equivalent labour costs, as well as reliability without sickness or holidays.

Although you may expect increased technical sophistication to drive the prices of wrapping equipment up, in fact the opposite is true. As advancements are made, the products become more affordable and features that were once pricey optional extras become standard pieces of kit. This is significant because it has become feasible for small companies or even cottage industries to purchase fully automated shrink wrapping lines, making the demand for automation even greater.


YPS have launched the Flexo E-COM – a turnkey e-commerce solution using automation software at its very best

The pinnacle of automated shrink wrapping solutions is represented in our Hugo Beck Servo X continuous motion high speed side sealer, which can achieve impressive speeds of 8000 packs per hour without any need for an operator. The machine is software driven, with an HMI screen as standard for adjusting settings and interacting with the machine. It boasts remotely controlled diagnostic capabilities, which allows YPS engineers to dial into the machine and solve issues live time with minimal disruption. The Servo also collects and reports on production data for our customers, linking into their own warehouse systems if preferred. In terms of efficiency, which is critical for customers wrapping thousands of products every day, there is no match for our Servo X.

Tying into another burgeoning trend – sustainability and waste – the Servo X uses its advanced technology to cut plastic film waste by 15%. The film is held precisely and snugly around the product and despite the high speeds, there is no pulling motion on the film which can knock the products out of alignment and create waste film as a result. Furthermore, the Servo’s improved control systems allow the machine to cope with and detect the range of ultra-thin films now supplied at YPS – the gauge of which has reduced by 40% in the last decade. The implications of this are that the overall volumes of plastic are reduced whilst the same yield is delivered.


The Servo X uses its advanced technology to cut plastic film waste by 15%

One major driver of increased automation for wrapping requirements is the growing e-commerce sector. It’s no secret that it is changing the face of consumer purchasing, and so retailers have had to respond to the new considerations that this entails for their packaging – durability, enhanced protection for transportation and data security and accuracy. This trend to e-commerce has meant an evolution in our machinery, from just wrapping to multi-functional models that automate other steps in the packaging process.

As such, YPS have launched the Flexo E-COM – a turnkey e-commerce solution using automation software at its very best. The machine couples the bagging process with an integrated label application system to provide full data management for products. Our solution takes away the manual handling aspect of pick and collection, reducing labour costs by replacing in some cases up to eight people per line and negating the room for human error.

The brilliance is in the E-COM’s insistence on faultless data handling precision. The machine only works with one piece of data at any time. In alternative models on the market, the label application system would hold a whole sequential batch of data and dispense address labels one by one onto wrapped packages. One removed parcel on the conveyor would cause a stream of incorrectly labelled parcels to follow. The innovative YPS design instead works by feeding one product at a time into the shrink wrapper which has the print and apply system mounted inside. The system reads the product and prints one label using the one data record it holds. The product is then bagged by the wrapper and the system applies its printed label, destroys the data and waits for the next product before beginning again. This one-in, one-out, automated process eliminates errors and ensures absolute reliability and security as well as 100% compliance with data laws.