Increasing Martin Brower’s Packaging Productivity

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S-300XT Stretch Wrapper for more productivity and output

Martin Brower is the world’s largest distributor of products to the world’s largest restaurant company – McDonalds. Martin Brower employs over 3,900 people in 30 distribution centers in 6 countries. There are 7 DC’s in Canada and this case study reviews the challenges and solution brought to the Calgary facility, through cam| industrial supply.

The Calgary DC services 211 stores across Alberta and in parts of Saskatchewan and British Columbia, wrapping 325 skids on average each day. McDonalds is continually adding new store locations, resulting in a growing demand for Martin Brower’s services. The primary challenge is to maintain the high level of service, reliability, and cost control expected from McDonalds while accommodating the ongoing growth.

Through meetings with Martin Brower, three objectives were identified for their Calgary facility: 

  1. Increase plant productivity
  2. Increase plant output
  3. Decrease operating costs

Additionally, any capital investments proposed to address these objectives required a reasonable payback of less than two years. From a productivity and throughput perspective, a bottleneck in the system was identified at the shipping area where pallets of picked product where accumulating prior to final packaging / stretch wrapping.

The existing process of wrapping pallets was creating several issues:

  • Order Pickers and their equipment were being tied up during the wrapping process to monitor and assist the wrapping equipment. There are a limited number of pickers and equipment available to pick orders and throughput was being directly limited by this laborious process.
  • The accumulated pallets in the wrapping area were creating clutter and inefficiencies.
  • Customer service metrics were in jeopardy at times and overtime was sometimes required to meet customer needs.
  • Outgoing trucks were not being loaded as quickly as possible and at times trucks were waiting for access to docks.

The main causes for this bottleneck were:

  • Unstable pallet loads that could be toppled if not physically monitored and assisted during the wrapping process
  • The existing wrapping equipment did not allow for automatic film start and cut off and therefore required order pickers to leave their equipment to manually perform these tasks.
  • The existing machinery was not properly sized to accommodate the loads, further exacerbating the unstable nature of some of the loads.

It was also noted that the existing wrappers were not equipped with modern gear ratios for pre- stretch. Today’s high performance stretch film allows for much higher gear ratios and therefore far more yield in terms of pallets wrapped per roll. A significant opportunity existed to reduce the annual stretch film consumption, reducing costs and benefiting the environment.

The S-300XT pallet wrap machine by Lantech was selected for wrapping the pallets. It is specifically designed for heavy and unstable loads and is ideal for order pick load environments. The recommended system incorporates an Automatic cut and clamp system that allows operators to stay on their equipment and resume order picking sooner. As well, the new machines incorporate a 110” wrap height arm to accommodate the tall loads on the Martin Brower skids. The solution will reduce labor hours associated with wrapping pallets by 50 percent and therefore offered an appealing payback at just over 1 year.

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