Rising fuel costs and related surcharges continue to increase trucking costs, so the last thing a shipping manager needs is additional fees for improperly reporting the weight of shipments. On top of that, strict adherence to truck arrival and loading schedules has shippers looking for ways to streamline shipment processing, while balancing the needs of producing safe, secure loads and keeping labor costs down.
That’s why a new integrated scale option for stretch wrappers has caught the attention of shipping managers across the country. The new EZ Weigh system from Lantech, Louisville, Ky., helps eliminate costly bill-of-lading (BOL) adjustments due to inaccurate weighing, and brings more efficient load preparation to customers’ warehouses and shipping docks, allowing them to meet increased demands during busy seasons without increasing labor costs. The patent-pending EZ Weigh option is integrated into the turntables of Lantech’s Q-Series semi-automatic stretch wrappers, making stretch wrapping and weighing a faster, more convenient one-step process.
An easier “weigh”
Customers shipping everything from fasteners to food items to rubber belting have reported faster processing and the elimination of weight disputes through implementation of the scale-equipped stretch wrapper. One customer even uses his EZ Weigh scale to settle weight disputes with his carriers.
“We are required by our carriers to provide correct weight for every shipment,” says Luke DeVries, shipping manager for Midwest Fastener Corp., Portage, Mich. “If we put an approximate weight on the bill of lading, there is a pretty good chance the shipping company will re-weigh it. If they catch you with an improper weight, especially if it’s heavier than stated, they’ll hit us with an extra fee.”
Midwest Fastener purchased a Q-300 stretch wrapper with the integrated scale in 2011. The company turns out between 30-50 shipments per day of a variety of screws, bolts and other fasteners, and shipment weights range from 100-3,000 pounds with typical pallet loads in the 750- to 1,000-pound range.
“We have 30,000 SKUs, and each order is different so each shipment is unique,” says DeVries. “We used to weigh with a forklift scale, but one bump can put the reading off by hundreds of pounds. If we get a freight claim from the carriers saying, ‘your weight was wrong,’ we can prove that our stretch wrapper’s scale is calibrated and our weights [are] accurate. The carriers weigh with a forklift scale, so now they defer to us for the accurate weight.”
The new Q-Series stretch wrapper with the EZ Weigh system also helped Midwest Fastener handle business growth without adding warehouse personnel.
“Our warehouse and shipping operations have increased about 30% over the past five years, and we’ve been able to handle it with the new stretch wrapper,” says DeVries. “The cost was well worth it, considering what we’ve saved in additional shipping fees and labor cost.”
The warehouse’s internal logistics also improved.
“I think the feature I like best is the low-profile turntable,” adds DeVries.
The EZ Weigh scale adds only 5/8 inches to the height of the turntable. The turntable’s new sloped-skirt design also resists forklift impacts.
“We have one forklift and one floor jack that raises a load about 6 inches. We could only use the forklift with the previous stretch wrapper because the turntable was too high. Now we can use the floor jack and deploy the forklift in other areas of the warehouse. That makes my life easier when we have a lot of activity in the warehouse,” says DeVries.
A better “weigh”
Jeff Fritz, warehouse manager for Bloomington, Minn.-based Food Market Merchandising, Inc. (FMMI) considers his company’s installation of a new Q-300 stretch wrapper and the EZ Weigh system to be an example of really good timing.
“This was our first stretch wrapper and not long after we purchased it, we got really busy. We added a second shift to meet the demand and having the new stretch wrapper really helped,” says Fritz. “We were wrapping by hand before, and using a forklift to move each wrapped pallet to a scale for weighing. We were very happy to get the new machine when we did.”
FMMI ships a wide variety of food and novelty products to grocery store chains, and daily shipments can range from 1-50 pallets per day.
“The stretch wrapper has given us the flexibility to handle our widely varying shipping needs,” says Fritz. “Based on our product mix, no two shipments are the same, and shipment weights will vary from 100-1,000 pounds per pallet. If our weights are off the carrier bills back the accurate weight, but at a non-discounted rate, so it definitely affects our shipping costs if we’re off.”
A faster “weigh”
Even though the distribution warehouse at CSI Calendering in Arlington, Texas, previously had a stretch wrapper, the company’s installation of a Q-300 with EZ Weigh integrated scale was a welcome addition.
“Our old machine was a dinosaur,” says Wayne Griggs, shipping and receiving manager. “The new stretch wrapper has made us more productive by eliminating the extra steps and moves needed to get pallets wrapped and weighed.”
CSI manufactures the reinforced rubber belting used on conveyor belts and in automobiles, among other applications. The company routinely ships between 60-70 500- to 1,000-pound pallets per day.
“Our business has been growing steadily over the past few years, but the last 2-3 months, things have really taken off,” says Griggs. “The new stretch wrapper has helped us keep up with the added shipping volume, and our pallets look better and are better protected. It also makes a lot of sense to have the scale right there.”
The technology behind EZ Weigh
The EZ Weigh’s unique patent-pending design separates the scale from the stretch wrapper’s frame and positions the load cells directly under the turntable, ensuring only objects placed on the turntable are weighed. Scales placed under the entire machine must account for varying machine weight or miscellaneous objects that may be sitting on the machine, often resulting in incorrect weights. The EZ Weigh scale has a 5,000-pound capacity, and all weighing components are NIST certified.
Shipping operations represent a significant percentage of overall business expenses, and carrier rate hikes and increasing fuel surcharges can have a dramatic effect on the bottom line, making it imperative for shippers to manage the aspects of shipping that are in their control, like providing accurate shipment weights.
“According to one of the leading 3PL providers, overcharges of 5-7% are the norm in freight shipping, and estimated or inaccurate weight is one of the main drivers of overcharges,” says Derek Jones, senior marketing product manager at Lantech. “Accurate weights also help in obtaining competitive bids from commercial carriers because providing the best information about your operation’s shipping volumes and pallet characteristics yields the best rates.”