You too can use the force. No, not THAT force. Stretch wrap load containment force. It's the collective force that holds your pallet loads together. But can you use the force to your advantage? Sure you can. Here's how:
Step 1 - Assess your needs. Are you shipping pallets of bricks, bubble wrap or something in between? Each calls for different stretch film thickness and strength. Your local packaging distributor can help you determine which is best for you. Once you've got the right film, you're ready to the next step.
Step 2 - Get a stretch film test kit. To test load containment force, your kit should include a tape measure, an analog film force scale and a film force pull plate. Spend a bit more and your film force scale will be digital. Other than that, they all do the same thing. Once you've got the proper tools, move on to step 3.
Step 3 - Learn to use the tools. On a wrapped pallet, tear a small hole in the stretch film that's 2" from the top and from the corner of the skid. Slip the film force pull plate through the hole so that it is resting flat against the product. Attach the film force scale and gently pull straight out towards you. When you pull on the film force scale, the readout will most likely be in pounds. Keep pulling until the film tears. Do this at the top, middle and bottom of the pallet. Average the numbers and you've got your answer.
Step 4 - Set Up Your Machine. Adjust the pre-stretch (if available), force-to-load tension and number of wraps to get to these numbers:
- Very light loads can get by with up to 5 lbs. top, middle and bottom.
- Stable mid-weight loads do better with 5-7 lbs.
- Unstable heavy loads require 7-12 lbs.
- Very unstable loads (.5L water bottles) need as much as 20 lbs.
Those recommendations don't guarantee a successful shipment. They're just a starting point. Also, you'll want to ensure that your stretch film is locking the load to the pallet. And finally, check back often. Some say once per shift. While that might be a bit extreme, the few minutes spent can more than pay off in reduced damage and increased satisfaction of your customers.
If you want to know more, head on over to DiscountPackagingDepot.com. They've got several test kits to choose from and a team of experts to answer your questions about pallet wrapping and just about every other kind of packaging.