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Wirebound Crate Manufacturer Keeps Focus on Whole Unit Load
Great American Wirebound Box Relies on Stapling Machines Stitchers
By Diane Calabrese
Date Posted: 8/1/2004
The first one is the focus Great American puts on the entire unit load a client must move. The second is the use of equipment from Stapling Machines Company
Stapling Machines Co. dates to 1904. Great American is even older, tracing one of its roots to the late 1800s.
“We manufacture wood and wirebound boxes,” said A. Boyd Carter, president of Great American Wirebound Box Co. Boyd has been with the company since 1977, starting out as its comptroller after earning an accounting degree. He has been president since 1987.
William A. Hines of
Great American has approximately 180 employees. Generally, the company runs one shift from to , five days per week; occasionally it runs a second shift.
The company buys rough lumber and veneer – the thinnest veneer is 1/6-inch -- from mills in
The company buys mixed hardwoods although about 70% of the lumber is gum. Other species include sycamore, poplar, oak, and pecan. Great American prefers gum for several reasons. It has a “good density,” which makes it “easier to drive staples into,” said Boyd. “Gum also prints very well,” he said. That’s important because logos or other images are often added to wirebound containers. Bottom line, gum is just “more resilient,” said Jack.
Although wirebound boxes can be made from green lumber, Great American has a history of supplying the military with containers, and military specifications require dry lumber. “We try to manufacture 100 percent from dry lumber,” said Boyd, because it “simply makes a better box.” Great American buys kiln-dried lumber when possible. Green lumber is air-dried on sticks; 4/4 gum takes about 90 days to air-dry, said Boyd.
To comply with customer requests for heat-treated (HT) lumber, Great American now buys heat-treated material that is maintained in a separate inventory.
Most lumber is delivered to Great American although the company occasionally picks up a load on a back haul. It maintains an inventory of 3.5 million board feet.
The company has manufacturing facilities with 125,000 square feet, 75,000 square feet of warehouse space and 9,400 square feet of office space.
Lumber is sorted and stored by widths when surfaced. It is then collected from the surfaced inventory for sizing, as required by customer orders.
Some of the key pieces of equipment in use at Great American are an Irvington-Moore lumber stacker, three McDonough twin bandmill resaws, three Mereen-Johnson tenoner machines, two Newman equalizers, a Morgan nailing machine, six Mereen-Johnson rip saws, nine Irvington-Moore cut off saws, three Hooper printers, and 23 Stapling Machines Co. stitchers.
The McDonough bandmills run 0.092-inch kerf blades and the Mereen-Johnson rip saws run 0.170-inch kerf blades. Great American buys all its band and circular saw blades from International Knife and Saw and does its sharpening in-house.
If wirebound containers will be printed with logos or symbols, the printing is done before the wood material is stitched together.
Wood waste heads to an American Pulverizer chipper, and the output is sold for fuel.
Wirebound technology enables Great American to design and build strength into its containers while minimizing wood material. Tim Catton, vice president of Stapling Machines Co., has been working closely with Great American for many years. “Great American looks at the whole unit load,” said Tim. “As part of our service contract, we are helping them with design and performance product testing.”
Versatility is the hallmark of wirebound containers, and Stapling Machines Co. offers its customers a wide range of options. Wirebound containers are made by fastening slats or panels to cleats with a binding bulk wire. Many types of wood components can be used in a range of thicknesses, including veneer, oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood.
Wirebound containers are manufactured by fastening slats and-or panels to cleats with a binding wire. Produced in mat form, the binding wire between mats is cut, formed into loops and securely clinched on either end of mat. When the mat is assembled, the loops threaded and anchored, the container and product are ready for shipment.
The spooled bulk wire used to feed stitching machines can be purchased in a gauge suited to the strength of container desired. Strapping and fasteners can also be purchased in different gauges and lengths.
Stapling Machines Co. offers high speed stitching machines that can produce the equivalent of 200 to 800 mats per hour.
With its 23 machines from Stapling Machines Co. in service, Great American minimizes the need to change over and set up machines for different types of containers. Workers insert slats and cleats onto the conveyor that feeds the stitching machines. The work is similar to feeding deck boards and stringers into an automated pallet nailing machine.
The receptiveness of the pallet and container industry to using bulk wire and stitching technology to reduce costs – bulk wire for fastening is cheaper than nails – spurred Stapling Machines Co. to provide a new option for companies that do not require high-volume production. Stapling Machine Co. recently introduced a new stitching machine to assemble tops, crates and bases. “We’ve tried to adapt equipment to the needs of the industry,” said Tim.
The quest to do whatever it takes to adapt puts Stapling Machines Co. in the same business corner as Great American. Over the years, Great American has always gone the extra distance to get customers what they need.
Jack has been with Great American for 33 years. He brings his knowledge of the industry to bear when he helps customers. “We design containers to precisely what they need,” he said.
Wirebound containers are used in two markets that can be broadly classified as agricultural or industrial, which includes applications for the military.
The strength of wirebounds got the attention of the military very early, said Jack. The tear-weight factor is a benchmark the military uses. In short, if a container is stitched together with wire, it must be able to hold considerable weight and still not pull apart or tear.
A wirebound container for military use must be able to withstand movement, handling and long periods of storage and still maintain its integrity. For instance, said Jack, if a wirebound container is designed to hold two ammunition cans, the military wants to know that if it returns to a warehouse 10 or 12 years later, it can still pick up and move the load as though it were just assembled.
Although most people probably normally associate wirebound containers with crates for produce, wirebound crates also are used to ship heavy, durable goods, such as riding lawn mowers. The collapsible nature of wirebounds is another factor that makes them particularly attractive to many industries.
Great American has been involved in designing some state-of-the-art stitched boxes. It has supplied wirebound containers to ship water and oil drilling equipment to
A Great American contribution to the nursery industry revolutionized stacking of plants in one to three gallon containers. “We designed a one-way shipping crate to fit 48x40 GMA pallets,” said Jack. “By using this nursery container, the plants can be stacked all the way to the roof of a truck. When the unit load arrives, a forklift operator can unload it quickly.”
Some clients of Great American require crates or containers to be anchored to a pallet. Great American buys pallets and makes containers with cleats that can be stapled to the pallet. Extensions on four sides of the wirebound box add stability by overlapping the edge of the pallet. In many cases, gravity alone is enough to hold a wirebound crate on a pallet, depending on the application.
Great American makes its own deliveries in
Fernwood is located in southwest
Great American Wirebound Box Co. belongs to a number of regional, state and national business and trade associations, including the Mississippi Forestry Association, Mississippi Manufacturer’s Association, Mississippi Economic Council, National Association of Manufacturers, National Safety Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Nursery Association and the Mississippi Nursery & Landscape Association.
The wirebound container industry has confronted the same trials during the last three years as industry as a whole, noted Boyd. First there was a drop off in movement of materials and orders in late 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the
“It’s very challenging,” said Boyd, but that does not make the enterprise discouraging in the least. “I thoroughly enjoy it,” he said.
In 2001 Boyd lost his right leg because of a bone infection following a fracture. “Being an above-the-knee amputee has somewhat limited my mobility,” he said, “yet has not dampened my spirit.” Boyd uses a prosthesis, which enables him to be active in the manufacturing operation at Great American in addition to administrative duties.
In his free time, Boyd enjoys spending time outdoors, hunting and fishing, and traveling with his wife, Cindy. He has a woodworking shop and he has made wall ornaments, entertainment centers, picnic tables and toy boxes.
“I have a long-standing tradition of hand crafting something every Christmas for family members,” said Boyd. “It’s my way of honoring Jesus as we prepare for the Christmas season.”
Being with his grandchildren takes priority for Jack when he is away from work. Before joining Great American, he earned a degree in computers. Growing up on a farm, Jack got started early working with wood.
(Editor’s Note: For more information on Great American and its container products, call (800) 533-3639).