Smaller grocery stores are on the rise, with markets taking up less than 20,000 s.f. popping up throughout the nation in recent years. And with the added advantage of fitting into any neighborhood, even grocers known for their large stores or supercenters are attempting to shrink their stores down.
When an entire grocery store shrinks, so does its backroom, creating a need for smaller equipment. Mettler Toledo says its 880 Auto Wrapper is one example of how a grocer can implement the “highest quality wrapping technology into a growing market’s shrinking space.” Taking up less than 20 s.f., the fully automated auto wrapper can fit into a small meat backroom, and according to the company, it is the fastest wrapping machine in its class.
“An automatic wrapping machine should allow meat departments to optimize their production, cutting down on time and labor and ensuring quality and professional packaging,” says the company. “New auto wrapper’s advanced features also stand out to meat department managers by offering user-friendly, interactive and highly accurate operator interaction. These new machines offer on-screen prompts, pre-programmable tray and film selections, and ergonomic design for ease-of-use—all features that help seasoned operators be more productive and guide new operators through the process with less training.”
Glass Gardens ShopRite is a family-owned group of supermarkets operating under the Wakefern banner in the Northeastern corridor. Its Pearl River, New York, ShopRite store’s most recent equipment investment was the fully automatic 880 Auto Wrapper.
“It’s a lot more efficient, and saves a lot of time,” said Meat Department Manager Bill Scorzetti. Instead of requiring two associates to execute the wrapping process (one to load and one to unload), a single operator can perform both tasks simultaneously while standing in the same position, allowing the grocer to cut down on wrapping labor while taking up a smaller footprint in the backroom.
A particular strength of this new wrapping equipment, according to employees, is the machine’s “efficient, effective troubleshooting capability.” When a wrapping equipment needs to be serviced, production typically slows down or halts until a service technician can get onsite. When the 880 Auto Wrapper needs troubleshooting, these new machines provide visual, easy-to-understand information about the nature of the error—and how, in most cases, the wrapping associates can correct the problem themselves, says Mettler Toledo. This specific feature of the auto wrapper saves time and costs, allowing the equipment to be serviced without an outside service call or a long wait time. That’s why, in the six months since his store’s 880 Auto Wrapper was installed, Scorzetti says his department has wrapped more than 300,000 packages without ever having to make a call for an outside service tech.
Glass Garden ShopRite isn’t the only grocery that wanted to share their experience with new automated wrapping equipment. Since 1965, Tony O’s Supermarket and Catering has offered meats, homemade deli products and an assortment of other food offerings in Kingsville, Ohio. In 2016, Tony O’s chose to replace its more than 20-years-old Mettler Toledo equipment with the new 880 Auto Wrapper.
“I can whip through a tray in no time at all,” says head meat wrapper Leslie Byrd, adding that a tray of cuts that used to take 40 minutes to wrap now can be done in seven minutes.
An 82 percent increase in production means less time spent by meat department associates in the backroom wrapping and more time out front.
Overall, the new wrapper has reduced Tony O’s total cost of ownership, the company says. Besides minimizing film usage and daily maintenance requirements, the equipment’s real time transaction software allows grocers to monitor their product being wrapped, displayed, and bought at checkout.