When Whirlpool’s Supermatic plant in Monterrey, Mexico, began looking for a new way to package refrigerators, its primary objectives were to improve packaging quality and reduce costs.
The company looked into several alternatives before deciding on stretch hood technology. In this process, polyethylene (PE) stretch hood film is prestretched and placed gently over the product, then released. The elasticity of the film causes it to wrap the product tightly as it tries to return to its original, unstretched state. In this way, the film applies continuous elastic holding pressure, holding prepackaging components tightly together with the appliance.
Other Whirlpool plants had already implemented MSK ClearView packaging as a replacement for corrugated packaging. After a comparative analysis of different stretch hood suppliers, MSK Covertech was the vendor of choice for the Supermatic project as well. According to Rene Orozco, production manager, a primary reason for choosing the supplier was flexibility. “MSK always shows flexibility, [and gives] us exactly what we need,” he says.
Packaging with the clear film results in a noteworthy reduction in damage return because of increased visibility of the product, according to Irfan Özdemir, general manager of MSK Covertech. Any party handling the product can see damage. Any damage to the product in the supply chain can be identified and reported immediately, which, Özdemir explains, means that all parties tend to take better care of the product overall.
Film packaging also provides marketing advantages. The film can be printed on, and its transparency allows the products to speak for themselves. “A better quality is perceived by our client,” says Orozco of Whirlpool. “And there is less space required in the packing area.”
The packaging material consists only of PE film rolls, which can weigh up to 2200 lb each. One film roll can wrap approximately 2000 products depending on film thickness and product dimensions.
Today, the Supermatic plant runs four MSK Tensiontech stretch hooder lines. The systems use different film sizes to cover the product spectrum. After identifying the products, the right film is chosen and prepared automatically. Depending on the height of the product, the required film length will be fed into the system and cut to the correct length. The film is then stretched biaxially to obtain a product-specific stretch rate. The system then applies the prestretched film to the product. The systems are capable of wrapping more than 150 products per hour, per machine.
The implementation of a graphically driven user interface is designed to make machine operation easier. The EMSY (electronic management system), developed by MSK, uses pictures, drawings, and visual representation of parameters and faults. It provides an online operation manual and a spareparts catalog. It can also be connected to external systems to exchange information such as labeling, scanning, weighing, production data, etc.
Whirlpool has also equipped plants in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, using Clear-View packaging to wrap refrigerators.
Thanks to Irfan Özdemir and MSK Covertech for providing this article.
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