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Packaging Corner: 3 steps help prevent stretch wrap failure

Developing baseline wrapping standards can help reduce waste and damage in your operation.
By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large
June 01, 2013

When a unit load fails, stretch wrap is often fingered as the culprit. After all, had the wrap held the load together on the pallet, damaged product wouldn’t be heading to the landfill and impacting the bottom line, right?

Not necessarily, says Derek Jones, senior marketing product manager for Lantech. The wrap may be perfectly fine, he suggests. Instead, it’s the application that may have been faulty.

“Many companies that experience stretch wrap failures haven’t established a baseline standard of best wrapping practices for each type of unit load being handled,” Jones explains. “Depending on the size of the operation, there could be anywhere from a couple to a dozen different load weights and types, with or without sharp corners.”

To establish proper wrapping standards, Jones suggests three steps. First, make sure the minimum amount of containment force, or wrap tightness, is applied to ship the load correctly. “Baseline containment force is calculated by multiplying the wrap force—controlled by a knob on the stretch wrap machine—with the number of revolutions of film,” he says.

Second, ensure the load is properly locked to the pallet. “Product damage happens when a load slides off the pallet because the load was not locked to the pallet,” Jones adds. Operators often start the wrap over the sides of the pallet—where forks from a pallet jack or forklift can puncture the film. Lantech’s systems automatically roll a short, initial “cable” of film that grips the pallet just under the deckboard, avoiding fork damage.

Third, take time to manually tuck the film’s tail under the wrap. This prevents any excess that could snag against something and compromise the wrapped load’s integrity.

Because a facility could potentially be wrapping multiple load types, Jones recommends first developing a baseline wrapping standard for the most common type, then build from there. While it requires a time investment, the alternative is far more costly, he says.

“We estimate that annually 0.5% of all shipped product gets damaged,” Jones says. “That translates into billions of dollars of damaged product that likely ends up in a landfill, causing a sustainability issue.”

About the Author

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Sara Pearson Specter
Editor at Large

Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Logistics Management as an Editor at Large since 2001. Based in Cincinnati, Specter has worked in the fields of journalism, graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for 15 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky., with a bachelor’s degree in French and history.


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