Choosing the right stretch film can be the difference between designing a cost-effective load or wasting money on damaged product, excessive material waste and unnecessary shipping costs. Not only does stretch film protect products from dust and dirt during storage, but it also protects the load from expensive damage during shipping. The wrapping process is so important to a company’s bottom line that stretch film selection shouldn’t be based on cost-per-roll alone. Stretch film users should consider several other factors when selecting their packaging materials.
6 Things to Consider When Matching Stretch Film to the Application
Are you trying to determine what stretch film is right for your packaging operations? It’s common for many purchasing managers to be concerned about the cost-per-roll when selecting stretch film, but that mindset can lead to unforeseen waste and damage to loads. Not only do loads require proper wrapping for safe and effective transport, it’s required for delivery and invoicing. Recipients of defective loads have been known to refuse delivery if there is evidence of any potential damage during transport, even if pallets only shift slightly.
To wrap your load efficiently and cost effectively with stretch film, consider these other factors:
Load Configuration - Weight and Shape
Stretch film should be chosen based on the specific requirements of each pallet load. These specifications are called pallet profiles and require a stretch film that provides proper containment according to positioning, weight and type of packaged items. To choose the right stretch film for your operations, consider these characteristics:
A: Uniform profile with clean edges
B: Irregular with uneven edges
C: No conformity with sharp edges
Light: < 1000 lbs.
Medium: 1000-2000 lbs.
Heavy: > 2000 lbs.
The next thing to consider when selecting a stretch film for your machine is force-to-load, sometimes called the holding force, or containment force, of the film itself. Force-to-load is essentially how far out you can stretch the film and the manner in which it snaps back (like a rubber band) and is indicative of how well a film holds the load together. Some films have better force-to-load, or holding forces, than others and while they may have a bigger price tag initially, they typically result in lower cost-per-load and less damage to product.
To determine the right stretch film for your particular load, you must first look at what your force-to-load is at the top, middle and bottom of your loads. From there, you can decide if you’re able to stretch the film farther and get more wraps per load, reduce the number of wraps required or potentially down-gauge (see below) the film material’s thickness.
Pre-Stretch Limits and Secondary Stretch
In addition to the holding force, there are other factors to consider when selecting the right stretch film. Different loads require different levels of pre-stretch limits, secondary stretch, and force-to-load working together.
The pre-stretch limit is how much the stretch film can be stretched out between two rollers of the machine that are turning at different speeds. The utility of the pre-stretch is economy and adjustable and relates to how many loads each roll of stretch film will allow.
Secondary stretch is the amount of tension you put between the last roller of the machine and the load itself. This feature allows you to optimize tension control on the machine and adjust force-to-load.
Gauge and Thickness of Stretch Film
Stretch film is measured in mils or microns, and typically the higher the gauge, the thicker and more durable the film and the more reliable the load. Just remember there are many other factors at play when selecting the appropriate gauge and thickness of your stretch film. If in doubt, contact your LINC System’s representative for assistance.
Many stretch film users think they can save money by choosing a lower gauge (down-gauging), but they often need to increase the number of times they wrap the load (revolutions) with film. Not only does this lead to increased cost-per-load, but it also increases the wear and tear on the machine itself and slows down production on the line.
We often recommend choosing the right gauge stretch film that requires the smallest number of wraps. This decreases the effort required of the machine, minimizing unnecessary wear and tear on the machine and increasing production speeds.
In addition to choosing the right stretch film for the machine, stretch film users should take time to consider the volume and frequency of the items shipped. How many pallets do you send out every day, week or month? How much time and labor hours are involved for each pallet to leave the facility? How much film are you using per load? Once you can track that data, you’ll be able to choose the most efficient stretch film for your packaging application needs and budget.
Understanding the shipping cycle for each load is just as important as the above five factors when selecting the right stretch film. There’s a big difference between shipping across town to a distribution center and shipping a load across the Rocky Mountains to California. The longer the load must travel, the more stops and starts it will experience and is subject to increased movement and jostling of the packages. The last thing you want is an overturned pallet upon delivery due to faulty packaging.
Choosing the right stretch film, holding force, secondary force and force-to-load based on the characteristics of the load allow users to wrap in such a way that despite any shipping conditions, the load and skid stay together and properly positioned. Additionally, the mode of transportation is a critical component to consider. Selecting the right stretch wrap will ensure that items shipped via truck, airplane or ship remain undamaged throughout their journey.
Common Stretch Film Products for Industrial Packaging
Hand Stretch Film
Hand stretch film, or hand wrap, is often used in applications that require industrial loads to be wrapped manually. LINC System’s carries high quality hand stretch film in a variety of gauges and widths to meet your needs in a variety of applications.
Machine Stretch Film
Machine stretch film is well-suited in medium- to large-scale operations where products must be wrapped efficiently. Machine stretch film is used with a machine that applies the film to the load using predetermined parameters for the most efficient cost-per-load. Machine stretch film is often more cost-effective in higher production facilities and results in reduced cost of packaging material when chosen correctly. LINC Systems carries many gauges, widths and stretch types of machine stretch film, or machine wrap, ideal for use in wrapping industrial loads with stretch wrap machines.
Stretch Film Machines
Stretch film wrapping machines are ideal solutions for fast and reliable packaging applications for safer and most cost-effective shipping and transport of goods. LINC Systems is proud to carry and service a variety of Wulftec Stretch Wrappers to meet any of your production or shipping related needs. You can choose from a variety of machine types including semi-automatic stretch wrappers and fully automatic conveyorized stretch wrapping systems that include rotary arms, turntables and ring wrappers.
Stretch Film Dispensers
Stretch film dispensers are lightweight, portable and durable solutions for wrapping pallets or bundles to protect packages during storage, transport and shipping. LINC Systems carries stretch film dispensers in many sizes to accommodate a wide range of packaging stretch film products.
LINC Systems is proud to carry a variety of industrial packaging products from top-rated brands like Wulftec, ABStretch, MS plastics and IPG. If you need help selecting the right stretch film for your industrial packaging needs, contact us today by calling 800-513-9918 or visit LINCsystems.com.
Keith Gordon and Dennis Malin are packaging sales representatives for LINC Systems.