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The Hidden Cause of Load Failure

One of the dominant trends in packaging over the last decade involved reducing primary and secondary packaging materials to save resources and cut costs. Think about the super-thin plastic water bottles and the smaller caps that are so prevalent today. Or cases of bottled water that are shrink wrapped without a cardboard tray underneath.

Reduced Secondary Packaging

Companies have made huge strides in sustainability while also saving a great deal of money by making these changes.

However, reducing or eliminating these packaging materials impacts the stability of a pallet of these goods, especially in the beverage industry where you’re dealing with a dynamic, liquid product that shifts around while in transit.

And this vulnerability in stabilization has had an adverse effect on efforts in both sustainability and cost cutting.

The Disconnect

While manufacturers and distributors have changed the way they’re packaging their products, in many cases, they have NOT changed the way they’re stretch wrapping loads on a pallet – unless it has been to just add MORE stretch film. Adding more stretch film applied incorrectly simply adds more waste to the equation without solving the problem.

This disconnect has led to an uptick in load failure during shipping. And load failure leads to damaged product and excess waste, two issues that are both damaging to the environment and extremely costly.

Load Failure


The cause of load failure is often misdiagnosed as a problem with insufficient dunnage or a corrugated box failure. Slip sheets, corner boards, and shrink bundling also get blamed for this mess, especially if they’ve been reduced or removed altogether. While these elements all contribute to packaging a successful load, they are not the last line of defense in moving the load from distribution to retail and they are not the ultimate culprit here.

The Truth

The truth is, improper stretch wrapping is the leading cause of freight damage. When stretch wrapping fails, all the other packaging components are vulnerable. And for anyone not making the connection between stretch wrapping and load failure, there’s an opportunity to solve this problem and save a significant amount of money in packaging without having to take steps backward in sustainability efforts.

The need for optimal stretch wrapping is more prevalent today because of these reductions in primary and secondary packaging. These reductions leave less margin for error and rely on operators using all the tools and applied science of modern stretch wrapping to protect the products and prevent load failure.

Stretch Wrapping

Science of Stretch

With the changing landscape of packaging and the move towards greater sustainability, Atlantic has doubled down on our efforts to choose the best stretch films for our customers and engineer the best possible application for every individual load.

We’ve hired leading experts in stretch film and application. We’ve developed patented stretch film monitoring software. We’ve designed comprehensive customer audits and training sessions.

And now we have the most advanced testing facility in the packaging industry with the ability to re-create the vibration profiles of transportation routes along which products are experiencing damage.  We can pinpoint where and how damage is occurring, refine the packaging, and validate a successful stretch wrapping solution, all in a controlled lab environment.

The Cost of Damage

A recent GMA/FMI study tells us that damaged product from load failure costs $7.2 billion annually in the food & beverage and health & beauty industries alone. This cost represents lost revenue and earnings as well as significant contributions to our landfills from unsaleables.

Most retailers have strict standards for accepting products to their stores. When products and loads are damaged in transit, they may not be accepted at their destination.  They are turned around and sent back to the manufacturer who then has to re-work the order.  This affects lead times, supply costs, and labor, not to mention lost sales, a reputation issue, and unnecessary waste.

Product damage and load failure are preventable, especially when we apply a scientific approach to identifying the problem and refining the packaging until we have a solution.

A Comprehensive Approach

We’re confident that a comprehensive approach to stretch wrapping, from an initial audit, to testing, optimization, and long-term monitoring, can and will eliminate this kind of failure and damage.

We’re excited to work with our partners and customers to move forward in creating a more sustainable and successful consumer products environment.