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Building Materials Manufacturer Relies on Stretch Hood Technology

June 30, 2014

With its headquarters in Paderborn, located in the eastern half of North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, August Lücking GmbH & Co.KG is one of the leading producers of building materials in the country. In order to pack clay bricks – or backing bricks – efficiently, the company is replacing its aging shrink hood system with the Beumer stretch hood M. This multi-format packaging system can automatically change up to three different film formats as required. The building materials manufacturer therefore saves a considerable amount of time and also achieves much better load safety.
    August Lücking GmbH manufactures more than 600,000 cu ft of common bricks, 900,000 sq ft of precast floor slabs, and 150,000 sq ft of prefabricated walls every year. The portfolio also includes flights of stairs, balconies, and prefabricated parts for special applications. Established in 1899 in Paderborn, today the company employs 140 staff at its Warburg-Bonenburg plant.
    “Up to now, we have used a machine which covered the palletized stacks with a shrink hood in order to package our brick pallets,” explains Hubertus Becker, plant manager of the brickworks near Lücking. The bricks are available in various formats. Films with different labeling are used for different product lines; in addition, a different size film is used for smaller packs, in order to save film. “Previously, we always had to change the film roll for these different requirements. We carry run multiple shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. A roll change on the shrink hood system takes about 20 minutes. If we have to change a roll twice during a shift, we lose a considerable amount of time.”

Stretch Film Instead of Shrink Hood
The shrink hood system was already showing its age. “It was clear to us that we needed a new packaging system to enable us to pack the palletized stacks more efficiently,” Becker said. “The important thing for us was to drastically reduce the time needed for changing the rolls.”
August Lücking considered several options, including Beumer stretch hood technology. “Almost from our first meeting, it quickly became clear that a Beumer stretch hood M machine would be most suitable for this application,” says Christian Matzen, sales manager for packaging systems at Beumer. “Everything from the smallest to the largest pallet can be packed with this high-performance packaging machine. The special feature of the machine is that it can automatically change up to three film formats. We calculated that the building materials manufacturer would be able to save costs of around 20 to 30 percent per pallet compared with the old system as a result of this time-saving.” After visiting the technical center at Beumer, it was soon clear to Becker and his colleagues that this was the right machine. “As we usually need three different formats, we finally decided on the Beumer stretch hood M.”
    The acceptance tests of the packaging system were carried out internally at Beumer. “However, there were technical challenges when it came to the installation: Because of the tight space available, the Beumer stretch hood M had to be split in half, to fit it into the building. Once the stretch hood M was put back together, it was connected to the existing conveyors without any problems. This was important to us, as we did not want to replace them or make any modifications to them,” said Becker.

Automated Measuring and Pre-Sealing of Stretch Hood
When the bricks are delivered on the tunnel kiln car, a gripper places them onto pallets. A chain conveyor then transports them to the downstream packaging system. “Before the stretching process, the pallet loads to be packed are automatically centered on the way to the machine,” explains Matzen. At its destination, an ultrasonic sensor then measures the height of the pallet load. The machine control system calculates the amount of film required for the stretch hood. The film is gusseted tubing, which is fed from a film roll carriage at floor level to the top of the stretch hood M.
    The film is opened in order for the stretch units to be able to enter the film. Four individually driven motorized rollers pleat the film onto the four stretch units. Two sealing bars, located above the stretch units seal the film and a knife cuts the film above the seal to finish the film hood. The four stretch units then stretch film hood to allow it to be applied over the pallet load and the stretch units descend to apply the film hood over the pallet load.

Unitizing the Load and Pallet
The stretch units release the film under the bottom of the pallet in order to unitize the pallet and the load. This process is referred to as understretch and is an integral part of the stretch hood process as it adds vertical containment forces in addition to the horizontal containment forces. During film hood application sensors check and verify the hood position. “This understretch secures the load on the pallet in the vertical direction – this is not possible with the shrink hood process,” says Matzen.
The highly flexible properties of the film enable it to be drawn over the entire pallet load and then pulled together again for the understretch. This creates the stable, safer brick pallet load that has been a key goal of introducing the Beumer stretch hood M. “We offer significantly improved load safety with this system,” says Becker. “Unstable loads can easily topple and thus damage the bricks -- and create risks for personnel nearby.” The packaged bricks are then conveyed to the loading station and loaded onto trucks for delivery to customers.

Advantages of the Stretch Hood
The stretch hood M has the capacity to meet -- even exceed -- the company’s throughput requirements: The system has a maximum capacity of 110 pallets per hour, while the building materials manufacturer operates at 80 pallets per hour.
    The Beumer system also offers operational savings. “The stretch hood process has further advantages compared with the shrink hood process,” explains Matzen. “For example, companies using the stretch hood M can achieve energy savings up to 90 percent, as well as using 30 percent less film compared to shrink hood systems.”
Furthermore, only a small amount of heat is used with the packaging process to seal the film, and as a result no additional fire extinguishing system is required. This packaging solution protects the bricks against external contamination or degradation from five sides, keeping the palletized bricks clean and dry when stored outdoors. “We also now have greater transparency of our palletized bricks with the stretch film,” says Becker.
    “The collaboration with Beumer was excellent from the very start,” says the plant manager. “We especially value the round-the-clock service. This is of immense importance, particularly for a company which works 24 hours a day.”
    For more information on BEUMER Group GmbH & Co. KG, visit www.beumergroup.com

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