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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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Learn More about the Packaging Solution Center
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.
Contact Us to Learn More
Over the last decade, we’ve hired material and equipment experts in-house to help give our customers an edge when it comes to choosing the right films and the right equipment settings for their specific applications. We’ve seen first-hand how successful this strategy has been in terms of protecting their products and reducing their material costs.
Stretch Film University is a program developed by these experts in our stretch packaging field. Customers are invited to come to our Charlotte, NC facility to get a close-up look at our data-driven approach to stretch wrapping. We start with an informative presentation, then demonstrate a variety of wrap patterns and settings on our test equipment. We also show how tracking material usage will help keep customers’ stretch operation in optimal performance.
Because differences or changes in stretch film application are not apparent simply by looking at a wrapped pallet, you can apply a pound of film or 4 ounces of film to a load and it will look exactly the same. Stretch Film University reveals the differences in film application and educates our customers on proper application for best performance and lowest cost.
Contact Atlantic to learn more and to book a session at Stretch Film University: (704) 588-1400.
Distribution centers handle a wide variety of products that need to be sorted, packed, and shipped throughout the day. This variety presents a challenge when it comes to stretch wrapping. The loads coming through the wrapper vary in size and weight from pallet to pallet. The default setting is that every pallet gets wrapped as if it’s the heaviest and bulkiest load they can make. While this ensures protection for the products, it also results in wasted materials and inefficiencies in the stretch wrapping operation.
Atlantic Packaging’s engineers went to work configuring settings for the wrapper that would accommodate loads of any size and weight in order to minimize material usage while still protecting the products. They came up with 9 unique wrap patterns that can be pre-programmed and customized for any distribution facility. LoadLogic takes a measurement of each load coming into the wrapper and calls up the appropriate wrap pattern based on these measurements.
The end result is an automated system that produces efficiently and effectively wrapped pallets at an overall lower unit cost.
Learn more about LoadLogic and call us to find out how to get it installed in your distribution center: (704) 588-1400 (Atlantic in Charlotte, NC).
Have you noticed changes in plastic water bottles over the last several years? Smaller caps, smaller printed labels, and lighter plastic are a few of the ways that beverage companies are reducing waste in their packaging. They are also bundling their cases without the use of corrugated trays.
And these changes are making a difference.
Nestle Waters states that by reducing weight in their half-liter bottle, they are using an average of 37% less plastic than their original half-liter and have saved 65 million pounds of PET plastic resin. And by reducing the label size on the bottle by 35%, they have saved almost 10 million pounds of paper annually (source: Packaging Innovation – Nestle Waters, link here).
Ice River Springs makes their bottles out of 100% recycled green plastic for closed loop recycling. This means that they’re making no new plastic for their bottled water (see: Ice River Green, link here).
As more and more beverage companies make moves to become environmentally friendly and adopt changes to their primary packaging, bulk shipments of the product from the bottling facility to distributors and retailers are in danger of being less stable and more susceptible to damage during transit. Companies have to rely increasingly on their pallet wrapping operation to keep the product safe and contained during shipping and storage.
At Atlantic, we have stretch packaging engineers and film specialists dedicated to meeting the demands of these unique and ever-changing packaging challenges. This team studies prestretch, secondary stretch, wrap patterns, and overlap. They analyze how these elements need to interact on the pallet in order to achieve the desired containment force that will protect the product in every individual case.
We share the results of our data and analysis in Stretch University, a program aimed at educating our customers on all the elements of a properly wrapped pallet. Through hands-on demonstrations, we show the best practices and common pitfalls of film being applied to a pallet. Stretch University demonstrates that simply applying more film or increasing tension will not protect product from damage. The right film matched with the proper equipment settings together with the appropriate prestretch, secondary stretch, and wrap patterns all collaborate on creating an effectively wrapped pallet.
Beyond analysis, training, education, and the technical service required to get all of these elements just right for our customers, Atlantic has also developed a monitoring system called Materials Usage Standards Tracking (MUST) to ensure that the proper benchmark settings are maintained over time.
It is inspiring to see so many companies evolving their products and processes to be more environmentally mindful. Matching that evolution with a packaging process that results in less wasted film and less damaged product is not only possible, it is a fundamental part of Atlantic’s commitment to sustainable packaging.
Contact us to learn more about stretch packaging, Stretch University, or the MUST monitoring program.