It is important to make sure your pallets are secure and protected to prevent product damage. Correctly securing your loads will ensure pallet stability and therefore remove the risk of movement in transport. There are many different methods of protecting your pallets, in this blog we will cover stretch wrap, shrink wrap, strapping, pallet boxes, top sheets/pallet hoods and edge protectors.
Stretch wrapping involves applying a tight layer of stretchable plastic film around a pallet. This is either done by hand or with a machine. The aim of stretch wrapping is to secure the goods to the pallet creating a stable, unitised load. When applied correctly, this is an effective way of preventing movement in transport and product damage.
The main advantage of stretch wrapping is that it is very adaptable making it suitable for a wide of loads, irregular or uniform and heavy or light. The biggest disadvantage of stretch wrapping is that, on it own, it does not protect the goods against external elements such as moisture and dust.
Shrink wrapping is a packaging technique that involves covering a product or load with a specially formulated shrink film. The process begins by placing the item in the centre of the shrink film. Heat is then applied to the film, causing it to shrink tightly around the product, conforming to its shape and providing a secure, protective layer.
Shrink wrapping offers numerous advantages, such as excellent product visibility, a tight and secure fit, protection against dust and moisture, and tamper-evident packaging. It is suitable for various product shapes and sizes. However, shrink wrapping may require specialized equipment, and the film may not be as stretchable as stretch wrap, limiting its application for irregularly shaped loads.
Strapping is a pallet wrapping method that involves using straps to secure loads to pallets. There are several types of strapping materials available, including steel strapping, polyester strapping (PET), polypropylene strapping (PP), and corded strapping. Steel strapping provides high tensile strength and is ideal for heavy loads, while polyester and polypropylene strapping offer excellent elongation and are suitable for lighter loads.
Strapping offers robust load containment, providing exceptional strength and stability during transit. This means that loads will be less likely to shift during transportation. However, strapping requires specialised tools for tensioning and sealing, making it more labour-intensive and time-consuming. Additionally, steel strapping can be sharp and pose safety risks if not handled properly.
Strapping is preferable when dealing with heavy or bulky loads that require higher tensile strength for secure palletisation. It is commonly used for construction materials, metal products, and lumber. When the load has sharp edges or irregular shapes, strapping may provide better load containment than stretch wrapping. However, strapping might not be as suitable for smaller, lightweight, or fragile items, where stretch wrapping or shrink wrapping could be more efficient and cost-effective.
Pallet boxes or crates are rigid and enclosed containers designed to protect goods during transportation and storage. These sturdy structures provide an additional layer of protection and support to the packaged items, preventing damage from external forces such as impact, compression, or environmental factors. Pallet boxes and crates come in various materials, including cardboard, wood, plastic, and metal. Each of these have different properties, for example wood crates offer strength and durability, while plastic crates are lightweight and resistant to moisture.
When using pallet boxes or crates, it’s essential to choose the appropriate size and material for the specific load. Secure the items inside the box or crate to prevent shifting during transportation. Additionally, ensure proper strapping or banding to the pallet to keep the box or crate in place during transit.
Top Sheets/Pallet Hoods
Top-sheeting and hooding are pallet wrapping techniques that involve covering the top of a palletized load with an additional sheet or film. Top sheeting consists of placing a protective layer over the top of the goods, while hooding involves encasing the entire load, including the sides. Both methods are typically used in conjunction with other pallet wrapping techniques, such as stretch wrapping or shrink wrapping, to provide an extra barrier against dust, moisture, and other external elements.
The primary benefit of top-sheeting and hooding is the enhanced protection they offer to the load. By creating an additional layer of defence, these methods safeguard goods from potential damage caused by exposure to the environment during transportation and storage. Top-sheeting and hooding are particularly useful when transporting goods in open trucks or pallets are store outside, where exposure to dust, rain, or other elements is a concern. They are also beneficial for products sensitive to moisture or when shipping goods through varying climates.
When applying top-sheeting or hooding, ensure the film securely covers the entire load and is tightly sealed. Properly overlap the edges of the sheet to eliminate gaps and potential entry points for dust or moisture. Choose appropriate film thickness and material based on the load’s characteristics and environmental conditions.
Edge protectors can prevent damage to the packaged goods during transportation and handling. The edges and corners of palletised loads are vulnerable to impacts, compression, and abrasion, which can lead to product damage and deformities. By using edge and corner protectors, the risk is reduced by ensuring the integrity of the load and improving its overall stability.
The primary advantage of using edge and corner protectors is their ability to prevent damage and ensure safe transportation. They also help reduce the likelihood of products shifting during transit.
In conclusion, there are various effective pallet wrapping and protection techniques available to ensure the safe transportation of goods. Stretch wrapping provides versatility and stability for a wide range of loads, while shrink wrapping offers excellent visibility and protection against moisture and dust. Strapping is ideal for heavy loads, while pallet boxes and crates provide rigid protection for delicate items. Top-sheeting and hooding add an extra layer of defence against environmental elements, and edge protectors safeguard vulnerable areas.
It is essential to choose the most suitable method based on the specific needs and characteristics of the load. Consider the load’s weight, shape, and sensitivity to determine the most appropriate wrapping technique. Each method offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, making informed decisions crucial to ensure optimum protection during transit.
Proper pallet protection is paramount in the logistics and shipping industry. Ensuring the load’s stability and safeguarding it against external factors minimizes the risk of damage and loss, leading to cost savings and improved customer satisfaction. By adopting the right pallet wrapping technique, businesses can enhance their supply chain efficiency and maintain the integrity of their products throughout their journey from origin to destination.