Servicing 8,000 accounts statewide and wrapping nearly 1,200 loads each day, Hensley Beverage Co. is Arizona’s largest beverage distributor, the company says. Opened in 1955 by Jim Hensley, the company started with 11 employees and has grown to 675 employees today. Hensley Beverage has four facilities throughout Arizona with the hub of the Hensley Beverage operation in Phoenix. The company distributes exclusively for Anheuser-Busch as well as a variety of beverage brands from craft beers, wines and spirits to energy drinks, teas and more. Therefore, Hensley Beverage must continuously look to its suppliers to help maximize efficiency and maintain product integrity.  

With different products come different challenges. ITW Muller, a manufacturer of both stretch-wrap equipment and film, is positioned to provide diverse solutions to its customers’ packaging challenges. One common challenge today is oddly shaped loads — ones encompassing several different products, sizes and packaging — that require different film tension.

By applying just the right amount of tension at various points on the load, manufacturers can be assured that they are reducing product damage while simultaneously lowering film costs, the company says. Instead of operating with a singular tension setting, variable tension control allows for increased tension at locations on the load that require extra hold, such as the base of a sturdy box, and lighter tension where reduced force is beneficial, including sharp corners or the top of an open box.

With the continuing changes in primary packaging design, it is crucial to have a system that offers flexibility and variability in order to optimize the stretch-wrapping function. In 2008, Hensley Beverage purchased ITW Muller’s Octopus 808 rotary ring stretch-wrapping machine. The company further opted to retrofit the machine with ITW Muller’s OctoMax enhancement, which comes standard with variable tension control. 

“To address new market demand for certain products, we have introduced several new beverage and product lines to our customers,” says Joseph O’Connell, Phoenix warehouse manager for Hensley Beverage. “While it has been a smart business decision for the company, it came with unique packaging challenges. ITW’s Octopus system has allowed us to package any load, regardless of shape, more efficiently.”

The Octopus 808 wraps up to 120 loads an hour, which allows Hensley Beverage to wrap nearly 600 loads a day on this line alone. In addition to the speed and effectiveness of the wraps, the Octopus 808 uses up to 25 percent less film than other systems on the market, the company says. The Octopus 808 also runs about 10 to 12 hours a day without interruption at the Hensley Beverage facility.

The Octopus 808 also helped Hensley Beverage save money on operating costs, according to the company. Beyond the film and waste reduction, Hensley Beverage estimated that the Octopus 808 machine reduced labor by about 1.5 people a day.


One step ahead

In 2009, the company integrated ITW Muller’s OctoMax system, which uses proprietary hardware and software to monitor and measure equipment and film effectiveness, to the line. The system not only enables Hensley Beverage to maximize the performance of its machine by making sure the optimal settings, pre-stretch gears, number of wraps and amount of film are set at all times; it also maximizes savings by monitoring the performance of film.

OctoMax also includes an e-mail notification function alerting Hensley Beverage to any issues immediately. This has been beneficial in eliminating the line from backing up and improving productivity, the company says. Hensley Beverage also has access to a secure Web portal that can track historical trends, produce a variety of reports and help diagnose the root cause of issues.

“Because the Octopus system is virtually unmanned, we rely on OctoMax to help us stay abreast of any problems before they affect efficiency,” O’Connell says.

Aside from system reporting and monitoring, Hensley Beverage also has a maintenance program with ITW Muller. Because the system is running 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week, ITW Muller comes on-site at least twice a year to make sure the system is working optimally. At this time, ITW Muller also ensures no adjustments or add-ons need to be made based on any changes in the way Hensley Beverage does business.

Hensley Beverage also purchases all stretch- wrap film from ITW Muller for all four distribution centers. BI

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