What is Stretch Film or Stretch Wrap?
It is fair to assume that most packages you receive have been in contact with stretch film, also known as stretch wrap, at some point in the shipping and handling process. Packaging will be secured with stretch film to a pallet as they move from point A to point B. While it may look like the industrial version of common saran wrap, there is more to stretch wrap than that.
Stretch film is a high cling plastic with stretch memory that holds palletized units of packaging securely. It offers protection from the elements and comes in a variety of different colors and gauges to fit any operations needs. But with so many options for stretch film, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for your packaging. Below are factors to consider when choosing your stretch wrap.
A load profile is a way to categorize your products and determines what type of stretch wrap your packaging will need. There are three load profiles that encompass the type of pallet load you may have.
Load Profile A: This load type is the most uniformed and stable. With clean edges and no protruding edges or puncture points, profile A is the easiest to wrap.
Load Profile B: This load type has some protruding edges up to two inches and is semi-stable.
Load Profile C: This load type is the most unstable load to wrap as it has protruding edges exceeding two inches and often has sharp edges and irregularly shaped packages.
Take into account the load profiles you are wrapping and shipping when selecting the right stretch film. Pallet size characteristics like height, weight, length, and width will help determine the correct stretch wrap for protective packaging.
Consider the speed and efficiency of your current stretch wrap process. Are you using the correct amount of stretch film on each pallet wrap? Often, less is more when it comes to stretch wrapping.
New resin technology and multi-layered film means that stretch wrap does not need multiple layers to get the job done. With the right stretch film, achieve more by wrapping less. Not only does this save money, but it also reduces plastic waste.
To determine the gauge, or thickness of your required stretch wrap, take into account the force required to secure your load. What type of packaging are you wrapping? Is it heavy or fragile? In that case, select a reinforced stretch film with higher puncture resistance to ensure a safe shipping and handling process.
A higher gauge means a thicker stretch wrap. A thicker film means more puncture resistance and a better stretch memory meaning the film keeps palletized products more secure. A lower gauge is thinner but more environmentally friendly. It does not have as much puncture and tear resistance, but is easier to pre-stretch. Both have their pros and cons as they suit different types of packaging loads.
Additionally, wrapping pallets tightly does not necessarily make them more secure. It all depends on the product you are wrapping. For example, a thin gauge stretch film would be ideal for a pallet of water bottles as it would be secure, but if the pallet wrapping is too tight or there are too many revolutions, the bottles could be damaged. Finding the right stretch film for your packaging can prevent damage and loss.
How many pallets are you stretch wrapping daily? The volume of your packaging plays into how many rolls of stretch film to order. Depending on volume, your operation may use a semi-automatic or fully automatic stretch wrapper process to apply the stretch wrap. That will inform the type of stretch film you should select.
It may seem smart to order the most economical roll of stretch film but in order to be truly cost-effective, consider the cost of the actual stretch wrapping process instead.
Think of the amount of labor, materials, and time it takes for wrapping each load. These factors play into the stretch film selection process. Some film is made for manual, hand application as it is smaller and lighter. If you have an operation that wraps less than 20 pallets per day, hand stretch film might be the right option for you.
If you run a larger scale operation or are having difficulties staffing warehouses due to issues brought on by the pandemic, consider an automatic stretch wrapping machine. Analyze the cost data and let that drive your decision and optimize your packaging process.
Storage and Shipment
Finally, where will your pallets be stored once they have been wrapped? If they will be stored outdoors, you may need a stretch film that protects your packaging from UV rays. Think about the shipping process too. If the pallets will be shipped by boat or train, consider a sturdier stretch film with a higher gauge for greater impact resistance.
Your Stretch Film Needs Depend On Your Operation
There are many factors that contribute to the stretch film selection process. Depending on your operation you may need to choose a variety of stretch films to fit different needs for your wrapping, shipping and handling process. The right stretch wrap will protect your products from damage.
With so many different types of stretch film available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Group O can help your business assess your needs to determine which type of stretch film is right for you. For more information call 866.476.8761.