With supermarkets and other retailers striving to cut back-of-store waste a British machinery manufacturer has perfected a small footprint machine alternative to “traditional” shrink tunnels for fast, economical wrapping of multipacks using lower weight films.
Skelmersdale-based TrakRap has brought the machine to commercial readiness in partnership with ITW Oripack, which is supplying the 7-9 micron pre-stretched oriented LLDPE film (similar to that used on pallet wrappers ) used in the wrapping process. Graham Downhill, TrakRap md, explains: “Traditional shrink tunnels used to wrap multipacks for their journey to store are typically 7-8 metres long, and consume substantial energy, coupled to which they typically use 30-50 micron film and create significant waste. In addition, while such occurrences are rare, they can pose safety risks should, for instance, a product being wrapped ignite inside the tunnel.
“We have designed the TrakWrap to use much lower gauge film. Using oriented LLDPE we can reduce film weights by over 60%, while the material’s self-clinging properties will typically reduce the film volume of waste wrap by 80%. Pack integrity is unaffected, product visibility is excellent and the film is easy to remove as well as being a cleaner, more recyclable material than heavier gauge shrink films. Energy use is also naturally far lower thanks to the much lower temperatures seen in the wrapping process..”
TrakRap successfully trialled a machine at a contract packer to Princes Soft Drinks throughout last year while, more recently, sponge manufacturer Spontex, in conjunction with AM Packaging in Swansea, has been wrapping multipacks of up to 20 of sponges at around 20 multipacks/min using the system.
Downhill, who says TrakRap is now looking to further extend the machine’s capabilities and flexibility, (for instance in the Spontex application modifications were necessary to accommodate the lightweight, pliable sponges,) explains its basic operation: “The multipacks come into the machine and gaps are created and held between them as they pass through the wrapping turret. The turret rotates in the vertical plane, with several film reels mounted on the rotating turret. As the packs leave the wrapping station a hot blade cutter separates each multipack and the clingfilm closes around its ends. While the seal is not as ‘hermetically’ tight as with a shrink tunnel it has integrity and is perfectly acceptable for transit packs which, after all, nobody but the shopfloor staff unwrapping the product is likely to see close-up.
“We reckon TrakRap’s environmental benefits, including the substantial energy, waste and film savings, the system’s small footprint, and its low temperature operation, which makes it suitable for use on frozen products – means we are on to a winner.”
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The TrakRap machine, described by its developer as “a material and energy-saving alternative” to “traditional” shrink tunnels for wrapping multipacks