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Commodity Grade Films vs. High Performance Stretch Film

When presented with choices about which type of stretch film to use in your packaging operation, you might think “Why should I pay more for a high performance film?  What’s the difference between this one and the lower-priced competitors?”

Based on our experience with a variety of applications over many years, we’ve come to understand that high performance films can accommodate a greater level of prestretch and still maintain optimal performance.  The result is that you use less film for the same application and, over time, you lower your costs and improve your sustainability (see How to use Less Stretch Film for Better Sustainability).

Now, with the Film Lab and testing equipment we have at the Packaging Solution Center, we’ve not only been able to prove out this theory, but we’ve also discovered some of the underlying reasons why high performance films outshine commodity films.

Our Film Lab specialists, John Cook and Jake Wyns, use the ESTL Film Performance Tester (FPT) to profile and pinpoint film properties and discern the differences in tear resistance between high performance and commodity grade films. They’re able to see how trends vary across film manufacturers at each of the different gauges and how films react at different tension settings.

They’ve found that consistency varies from lot to lot with commodity grade films because of the variety of resins used in manufacturing the film.  This results in inconsistent quality with the film and a broader range of puncture and tear resistance. 

In high performance films, however, the consistency falls within a smaller range because manufacturers are using specific types of resin to get specific film properties. This results in more consistent quality throughout the film and a higher chance of getting consistent output with your stretch wrapping.

So if you optimize and monitor your stretch wrapping using high performance films, you’re more likely to avoid product damage using the optimal amount of film time after time.  This is how you’ll realize the best cost savings and product protection over the long haul.

Learn more by scheduling a tour of our Packaging Solution Center in Charlotte, NC.

Cubing Out A Trailer … Vertically

Cubing Out A Trailer … Vertically

Sustainability in packaging comes in many forms. We’ve discussed how using high performance film with proper application actually reduces the amount of film used and eliminates damage to your products in transit (See: How to Use Less Stretch Film for Better Sustainability)

When you can reduce the amount of film used and eliminate product damage, you reduce waste and improve sustainability.

Another way we’re seeing improved efforts in sustainable packaging is through cube efficiency of a trailer.

Manufacturers want to move the most amount of product in a single trailer load as possible when they’re shipping out to retailers. This cuts down on the number of trucks they need which reduces the amount of gas needed and cuts down on CO2 emitted, both desired for sustainability. This approach is also less expensive, more logistically efficient, and keeps their inventory in-stock.

Manufacturers have traditionally optimized the floor footprint of the trailers, filling full truckloads wall-to-wall to achieve this efficiency. But a new development we’re seeing in cube efficiency is to optimize to the height capacity of the trailer. This is especially true for more lightweight products that can be stacked higher without damaging the bottom layer.

These higher loads present a whole new challenge to the industry that we haven’t seen before. Now, the center of gravity has changed, the way that the load is going to perform has changed, the way they handle the energy of the acceleration and deceleration movements has changed.

At the Packaging Solution Center, we now have a stretch wrapper with a 112″ wrap height. So we’re able to test, re-test, and verify wrapping solutions that help customers understand and solve all these new challenges associated with taller loads.

Our goal is to help to our customers achieve efficient, cost-saving, logistically optimized, sustainable solutions with their packaging. We do that by understanding their goals, then testing, and verifying solutions that overcome challenges and let them pursue new and different approaches in packaging.

How to Use Less Stretch Film for Better Sustainability

How to Use Less Stretch Film for Better Sustainability

The first of the Three R’s in the popular waste hierarchy of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is REDUCE

Individuals and corporations can follow the Three R’s as a basic guideline in achieving better sustainability.  When you start with the first R and make efforts to reduce waste, you’ll naturally examine your current consumption and usage and look for ways to cut back. Sometimes, this is as easy as opting for paperless electronic communications instead of traditional mail – as in how you receive statements from your bank. 

But in other areas, it will seem more difficult to find ways to reduce.  If you examine your more high volume usage, you’ll find it will take a bigger effort to make a change.  But that’s often where you can make the biggest impact in terms of sustainability.

When it comes to end-of-line packaging for consumer product manufacturers, stretch wrapping falls into the category of high volume usage.  Stretch wrapping is integral to protecting your products during transit and storage. Reducing usage in this area feels like it may put your products at risk (See: Load Damage Domino Effect).

With Atlantic’s MUST stretch management program, we help you examine your current usage – from the type of film you’re using, to your equipment and how it’s set up, to your stretch wrapping process.  With the results of this audit, we use the testing equipment at the Packaging Solution Center to test and verify a stretch wrapping method that will work for you.

Our goals are to optimize your stretch film usage and application – often by using a higher performance film that requires less film applied – and to ensure that your products are protected.  The results are often a reduction in the amount of film being used, cost savings on materials, and sustainability gains.

To learn more about Atlantic’s MUST Method and to tour the Packaging Solution Center, contact us today.

Finding Our Way to Greener Packaging

Finding Our Way to Greener Packaging

Consumers today are more attuned to their environmental footprint than ever. This means they are more sensitive and thoughtful about the products they purchase. They’re researching companies and engaging with brands directly on social media. They’re reading labels, investigating ingredients, and evaluating their packaging. 

In all this, they’re looking for signals that the companies they support though their purchases are equally as attuned to their environmental footprint, actively working to reduce waste and use sustainable materials.

As a packaging company, we have the opportunity to make decisions that can significantly influence and affect sustainability up and down the supply chain. From the materials we offer, to the style of packaging we recommend, we can offer strategies to help our customers achieve greener packaging that’s more efficient and less costly.

CONSOLIDATION

Consolidating packaging means that you’re fitting more products into fewer packages. This strategy can make a big difference when you’re shipping products out to retail stores or when you’re shipping parts to the manufacturer.

The first step in consolidation is to look at how you can be more efficient and strategic with the materials you absolutely have to use. Then you look at how you can safely eliminate the rest. This requires creativity, resourcefulness, and an engineering mindset.

Consolidation accomplishes some important goals in the quest for greener packaging. It reduces packing materials and the total number of packages while still protecting the product, usually at a lesser cost. Benefits are gained up and down the supply chain, leaving a positive impact on sustainability efforts.

RIGHT SIZE BOXING

Choosing the most appropriate size box for your e-commerce shipment helps to minimize shipping costs by optimizing the dim weight and reducing void fill. It also helps create a more positive customer experience by eliminating excess packaging materials.

When combined with smart automation, like the i-Pack machine or the PACJacket, right size boxing can be fast and efficient.

As the e-commerce industry continues to expand year after year, you’ll need innovative ways to reduce materials while protecting your products. Right size boxing takes innovation and smart strategy but can return significant benefits, especially over the long term.

STANDARDIZING RETAIL PACKAGING

Retail packaging has some heavy lifting to do. It has to protect the product, act as a billboard for the brand, and get your attention above all the competition on the shelf. If it can also be environmentally friendly, then that’s a bonus for everybody.

One way we’ve been able to help customers achieve a more sustainable model for retail packaging is by creating an exterior
box or container design and then changing up the internal profile to accommodate a variety of items. 

This achieves consistency in the outer layer to reduce production and supply costs and ensures that the cases can always be cubed on a pallet for efficient shipping.

With that single container, you can then use labels or shrink sleeves to differentiate, allowing you to buy in bulk and use only the materials needed for each variety. This cuts down supply costs and provides more flexibility in the production line.

The engineers in our Custom Packaging Lab create protective packaging designs for customers in the automotive industry, health & beauty, e-commerce and more.

Contact us today to talk about your sustainability goals.

Download our whitepaper on Making Greener Packaging a Reality for more ideas on how your company can implement smart packaging for better, more sustainable outcomes today and in the future.

How Stack Patterns Affect Unit Load Stability

How Stack Patterns Affect Unit Load Stability

While pallets used in shipping and warehousing have become standardized in terms of size and structure, the products and packages stacked on top of them are ever-changing.  

In an ideal unit load, the products stacked on the pallet come to the very edges of the pallet and form a stable, symmetrical unit protected and bound with stretch wrap. 

In real life, however, we may be dealing with a variety of products stacked together. This variety may not present a uniform stack pattern and may result in inboard conditions where the products don’t come to the edge, or overhang on the pallet.  Or we have a product that once formed a stable unit load but now has a newly designed package and the cases don’t fit on the pallet the same way.

This kind of change and variety affects the stack pattern of the load –  how the products are arranged together – and the load may go from something that was stable and protected during transit to something that is inherently less stable and is at risk of damage during transit.

In the testing we’ve done at the Packaging Solution Center, we’ve found that the stack pattern is a critical factor in unit load stability.

Because the surface area of the standard pallet is a known factor, the size, shape, and arrangement of the cases can – and should – be considered during the package design process.  In the design phase, you can decide how many cases you can put per layer or determine if you’re looking at overhang or inboard conditions.  The decisions made at this stage will affect the success in getting your products shipped out to your customers at your target cost and without damage (see: The Load Damage Domino Effect).

To get this conversation started now, schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center.

Top 3 Reasons Package Testing Should be Part of Your Process

Top 3 Reasons Package Testing Should be Part of Your Process

Since we introduced the TruMotion testing equipment at the Packaging Solution Center, we’ve had customers from a wide range of industries come in to test with us, many with different reasons for why they needed testing.

CURRENT PACKAGING FAILS

Some customers are having issues with the current state of their packaging. They want to resolve those issues and fix the problems they’re facing, whether that’s load damage, rejection of loads due to leaning, safety issues, or brand perception issues.

Without the level of data collection and lab testing available before we brought TruMotion Load Containment Testing to Charlotte, these customers weren’t able to successfully zero in on the root cause of their issues and have been dealing with load damage and failure simply as a course of doing business.

After working with the team at Atlantic and employing the unit load testing available with the TruMotion Multi-Axis Transportation Simulator and the Braking & Impact Test Sled, customers were able to pinpoint the cause of the issues they’d been having, fix the problems by coming up with proper stretch wrap application, and eliminate future load damage and failure.

Problems they thought were inevitable turned out to be preventable.  Our ability to correct current packaging fails is one of the primary reasons that customers come to see us at the Packaging Solution Center.

CHANGES IN PACKAGING

We also have some customers use TruMotion testing because they are making a change to their product and are predicting that they’ll need to adjust or change their packaging to properly protect their new unit loads.

They may be changing bottle size, transitioning to a pouch or carton, or maybe introducing a new product altogether. These customers are trying to get ahead of the game and do the transit testing before they put product into the marketplace.

We embrace the challenge of starting from scratch to find the right stretch wrap application that will work for these changes. There are a lot of factors to consider, including stack patterns, wrap patterns, type of film being used, and equipment settings.  We can devise a new packaging strategy from start to finish right here in the Solution Center.

REDUCTIONS IN PACKAGING

Another reason our customers come to us for TruMotion Testing is to find out how they can achieve reduction in packaging while still maintaining unit load integrity. The product and the primary package may be staying the same, but there is a desire to reduce the cost of that total package as well as the packaging footprint. That can mean eliminating cornerboard, strapping, trays, or slip sheets.

The TruMotion testing equipment allows us to test the reduced packaging system in a controlled lab environment.  With the results from initial trials and tests, we can then refine, and test again until we verify that the packaging will perform as needed. 

Using this system, we’ve had success in reducing the amount of packaging while continuing to deliver unit loads intact and without damage.

Fit2Ship

The team of engineers and technicians we have here at Atlantic along with the TruMotion equipment and the tests that we have in place all help to validate the solutions proposed for each of the packaging scenarios we’ve described here.

If you find yourself with packaging that’s failing, a new product coming down the line, or a challenge to improve the sustainability impact at your company, contact us to schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center and see the TruMotion Testing equipment in action.