‘We provide our customers with a problem-free wrapping process’

A problem-free wrapping process means: optimising pallet stability, selecting the right stretch film, achieving cost reductions. Many companies claim they do this, but in fact do not really do so in practice. Multiple engineers are working at AFP who ensure that these aspects are in fact realised. How does this work in actual practice? ‘We really occupy a niche in this area.’

This is how AFP’s technical engineers do their work: ‘We provide our customers with a problem-free wrapping process’

Complexity of the wrapping process

Not too long ago, Dominic Nielandt would not have thought he would have ended up in such an area of specialisation. ‘Three years ago I knew almost nothing about the wrapping process and the complexity of the subject matter,’ he laughs. For the past two years he has been working as a Sales Engineer at AFP and has specialised in the subject matter. ‘I have a technical background and I also completed an internal training programme here.’

In contrast to many other companies, AFP maintains two sales tracks: account managers and sales engineers. The sales engineers support the account managers. ‘We are fairly quickly exposed to the customer,’ says Dominic. ‘We map out the current situation: we check out the kind of wrapping machine and the kinds of pallets the customer uses, how stable the pallets are and the current film consumption rate. After this we test the film and check to make sure all the data is accurate.’

We do this because we regularly visit customers where the net weight registered on the pallet label, for example, does not match reality. AFP considers checking this information important, including the weight of the casings that are being used.

In-house technical knowledge

The engineers’ technical knowledge is used to map out the current situation. However, pallet stability is also tested. ‘We work together with an independent laboratory, which conducts acceleration tests,’ says Dominic. The reason for this is to simulate an emergency stop by a truck, for example. ‘Furthermore, we also use a method to measure the holding force of a pallet ourselves; in other words, the kilograms of pressure the film exerts on the load. This method was developed in accordance with the ASTM standard.’

Dominic knows that few customers know their machines really well. ‘The wrapping machines and the film are end-of-line products and are simply given less attention.’ Furthermore, most companies simply do not have the resources required to gather a great deal of knowledge about all of the different machines. From a technical perspective this is often not a problem, but you need specialists for the techniques used in the wrapping process. ‘There are very few people who understand these techniques,’ says Dominic. ‘We really occupy a niche in this area.’

The ultimate pallet wrapping with cost reductions

And with the right approach, it is precisely this aspect of the entire packaging process that can result in significant cost reductions. Then why doesn’t everyone use this approach? ‘It is fairly labour-intensive,’ Dominic explains. ‘We assess the technical condition of the wrappers and the film’s properties. This requires certain settings. We load this information into a recipe that enables you to achieve the ultimate pallet wrapping and in doing so a problem-free wrapping process.’

A pallet with the ultimate wrapping matters to everyone. Ultimately, the end customer is charged for the amount of film he or she uses. Reducing this amount is ecologically responsible and the customer benefits from the reduced financial cost. ‘For customers we visit for the first time, we can realise between 20 and 40 percent savings in film consumption,’ says Dominic. ‘This is the normal situation we encounter. Depending on their film consumption, this can save up to hundreds of thousands of euros annually for some customers.’

This is not exactly guesswork. When engineers visit a customer for the first time, they can conduct a quick scan. ‘We then map out the current situation and submit a theoretical model on this basis, which indicates the level of savings we can generate,’ says Dominic. ‘An elaborate scan goes a step beyond this. We conduct this scan when the customer wants to test the model in actual practice. We then demonstrate that we are in fact able to realise the theoretical model.’

Our added value

Dominic’s sphere of operation primarily covers Belgium, Luxembourg and France, with occasional incursions into Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. ‘Almost 100 percent of our work is done on-site, which means we are on the road throughout the week,’ he says. And this is AFP’s added value. ‘We provide a consulting service and we provide our customers with a problem-free wrapping process. We give advice and where necessary, adjust settings. We ensure that pallets are stable, that they use the least possible film to achieve that result and that the cost per wrapped pallet is as low as possible. In addition, we follow up on this with regular checks, so that the results remain constant.’

The fact that this is really very special is evident from the fact that AFP is the only film supplier in Europe that uses this approach. ‘Most suppliers have a sales team that does not assess the film with such specialised expertise. But to really optimise the process and achieve zero truck returns, you need more than what the average film supplier has to offer,’ says Dominic. ‘At the end of the line, we are the most economical partner.’

This then is what AFP has to offer its customers with this approach. Dominic lists four specific points:
– A problem-free wrapping process; in other words, the production line does not come to a halt due to problems with the wrapping machine or the film;
-A minimum number of transport-related complaints and no returning loads or trucks;
-Excellent pallet stability and technical support;
– The lowest film consumption per pallet.

Win-win for the customer

‘It is extremely satisfying,’ Dominic concludes. ‘When we visit a potential customer with transport-related problems, and we are able to completely eliminate these problems after two to three months, with a 30 percent reduction in film consumption – and therefore a reduction in costs for the customer – the customer is extremely grateful. This is a win-win for the customer. Our objective is that when we are ready to depart, the customer’s problems are a thing of the past.’

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