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Unpacking the Problem of Unit Load Damage


Load damage and load failure appear in many forms. Common examples include loads that are leaning, stretch film that’s punctured or broken, loads that have shifted off the pallet, or products that have broken through the film completely and toppled.

And these scenarios cause all kinds of problems for the brand, including damaged products, returned loads, safety issues, and reputation problems.

Where Does the Damage Start?

One of the first things we do when we engage with a customer who’s current packaging is failing is visit their facility and perform an audit on their equipment and process. This audit reveals how their machines are performing, what type of film they’re applying to the load, and how they’re applying the film.

What we often find is that the damage is a result of mis-applying stretch film in their manufacturing facilities as well as underperformance of their stretch wrappers. We’ve also seen cases where a packaging design was created that was never sufficient to fully protect the load.


There’s a science to stretch wrapping that goes beyond adding more stretch wrap to a load to protect the products.  A lot of factors work together to wrap a load successfully.

Elements of prestretch, secondary stretch, wrap pattern, and overlap are all essential to achieve the desired containment force that dictates how well the film can protect the product. We actually cover the full science of stretch wrapping in our Stretch University course offered at the Solution Center.


Even a perfectly optimized machine gradually declines in performance over time. Parts become worn out or they shift or tweak with repeated use. Operators may adjust settings to compensate until the optimized state is a distant memory.

At that point, the machine is not providing the results needed to prevent damage caused by braking, accelerating, cornering, and other maneuvers that occur in transit.


In some cases, a faulty design for end-of-line packaging was created early on. Maybe there was an issue with the stack pattern or with the case strength. And this issue caused problems right from the start. But it wasn’t evident exactly what part of the process was causing the problems. So our customers have been dealing with the resulting damage all along.

The Effects of Damage

Whether the loads are completely failing and tipped over, or experiencing a severe lean or shift, our customers are dealing with issues that extend beyond the damaged product. They have rejected loads, safety issues, extra cost in returns, more labor and a negative effect on the brand’s reputation.

Fixing the damage problem will fix all of these side effects.

Testing & Validation

With the TruMotion testing equipment at the Packaging Solution Center, we offer an opportunity to pinpoint the exact cause of the load failure and fix it once and for all.

By replicating the damage in our lab environment, identifying the point of failure, and testing new solutions until we have one proven to protect the load, we send customers back to their facilities with a holistic solution – from the film, wrap pattern, equipment settings, and long-term monitoring – that will eliminate damage and validate that their loads are Fit2Ship each and every time.