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The Stretch Wrap Machine Advantage

An investment into a stretch wrap machine can be several thousands of dollars. The upfront cost of 5K-10K can often Extended Base Stretch Wrap Machinemake any business owners hesitant. The main question everyone asks is, what do I get for that cost? The actual dollar amount of a stretch wrap machine benefit is hard to figure exactly and will vary based on production levels, labor costs, and product costs. In this post, we are going to try and point out the advantages of a stretch wrap machine and how business owners can determine if the purchase of a machine is beneficial to the business.

The use of stretch wrap machines dramatically increased in mid-seventies. Prior to the energy crisis in 1974, the most common method of unitizing pallet loads of products used pallet shrink bags. Workers placed a bag over the pallet load and applied heat to the bag to shrink it to the products. Though this method is still used today, stretch film is by far a more common method. Once the energy crisis hit, companies realized higher energy costs and increasing shrink resin cost were too much compared to stretch film costs.

Once the industry changed and companies began to switch to stretch film for unitizing pallet loads, the use of stretch wrap machines increased. Many companies producing enough volume had to decide the benefits of using a machine opposed to hand wrapping. Below are benefits and factors to consider when weighing the cost of a stretch wrap machine.

Material Cost

The switch from hand stretch film to machine stretch film can dramatically reduce the cost of stretch wrap materials. The vast majority of the time workers wrapping by hand do not obtain the maximum stretch potential of a hand stretch film. Some film materials have over a 100% stretch rate. If workers applying the film do not reach the maximum stretch potential, the film is being wasted.

A stretch wrap machine can be set to a specified stretch rate and obtain a consistent stretch and wrap each time. Obtaining the maximum stretch rate enables more pallets to be wrapped at a reduced cost. Stretch wrap machines also enable companies to downgauge stretch film and reduce costs as well. Because of a consistent wrap to each pallet load; a thinner film can often be used while still ensuring load stability.

Reduced Product Loss

There were a couple of issues mentioned in the reduced material cost section that also affect product loss. When workers applying hand stretch film do not reach the maximum stretch potential of a film, loads can shift in transit. This is directly related to the memory of a stretch film. Once a good film reaches the maximum stretch potential the memory will cause it to form fit the load being wrapped. If the maximum stretch potential is not reached, the film will continue to stretch during transport and result in toppled pallets and product loss.

Another factor mentioned in the material cost section that is also directly related to product loss is the consistent wrap a machine offers over a hand wrapped film. Many hand wrapped pallet loads are not consistently wrapped the same which can result in product loss. Consistent revolutions and stretch rates around pallet loads will ensure safe delivery of products time after time.

Labor Costs and Worker Fatigue

The ability to load pallets onto a machine via pallet jack or forklift and simply press a button dramatically reduces labor costs and worker fatigue. Anyone familiar with hand wrapping a pallet knows that it is labor intensive and can be hard on the back to ensure the proper stretch rates are obtained.


A stretch wrap machine is more efficient than hand wrapping in two key areas. By allowing a machine to wrap pallet loads, workers are free to work on other things and prepare the next pallet to be wrapped. This increases overall workplace efficiency.

A stretch wrap machine is also much quicker than wrapping pallets by hand. Depending on the settings available on a stretch wrap machine, machines can be one or two times faster than wrapping by hand.

Ability to Wrap Larger Pallets

Any companies wrapping larger, taller pallets should consider the use of an extended mast or extended base stretch wrap machine. Pallet loads much over 5-7 ft. in height can be very difficult to safely wrap by hand. One of the only safe solutions to wrapping pallets that tall by hand is the Nelson Stretch film Dispenser. If not using that dispenser, tall pallet loads are near impossible to wrap safely.

The purchase of an extended mast stretch wrap machine is an upfront cost that can be quickly recovered when wrapping multiple tall pallet loads per day or week.

How to Determine if a Stretch Wrapper is Right For Your Location

As mentioned above, the exact dollar figure may be difficult to figure when determining the return on investment for a stretch wrap machine purchase. Below are some questions we suggest our customers consider before making a purchase.

How many pallet loads are being wrapped with stretch film per day, week, month, etc.?

Determining the number of pallet loads going out can be a quick indicator of whether or not to invest in a stretch wrap machine. Companies only wrapping a couple of pallets per week may want to consider staying with hand stretch film or purchasing a used machine.

What are the monthly film costs?

Determine monthly or annual film costs and figuring a 10% up to a 30% reduction in cost by switching to a stretch wrap machine is a safe figure to use. This is often one of the most tangible ways to determine ROI on the cost of a machine.

What is the monthly or annual cost of product loss?

The use of the proper film with proper machine settings can dramatically reduce product loss. If toppled and unwrapped pallets are consistently occurring a stretch wrap machine should resolve many of the issues.

Does wrapping pallets by hand slow down the amount of work production?

By observing the warehouse, supervisors can often determine if hand wrapping is slowing down production. Switching from a hand wrap to a machine can increase that production by a third or double it.

How many oblong or tall pallets are wrapped per day, week, month, etc.?

This can be addressed when determining the total amount of pallets wrapped per day, week, month, etc. If wrapping more than a few tall pallets per day, a stretch wrap machine with an extended mast can be a huge benefit to a location.

Hopefully understanding the benefits of switching to a stretch wrap machine and answering questions about each location will determine if a machine is needed. If the answer is yes, we would love to assist you with your purchase. We offer a variety of machines all in stock and available to ship within 48 hours of a completed order. If the answer is no, we would love for you to consider our hand stretch film selection. Call us at 1-800-441-5090 if you need any further assistance.


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