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Ask Steve

Ask Steve

May 29, 2024

Question from Brian: Why does stretch film have a tacky side and does it really matter if it is facing the load or facing outside the load?

Hi Brian, Thanks for sending in a great question! This will help a lot of people understand something that very few do today.

Let’s set the groundwork for the answer by covering a few basic concepts.

  • The job of the stretch film is to unitize and contain the load when external forces are applied during transportation.
  • We know that when stretch film is stretched, and the force stretching the film is released, the stretch film, because of its memory, will contract by some percentage.
  • When the film contracts, it applies a force against the load (Force-To-Load) which is one of the measurements used in a load containment standard. (As a point of reference, when you pick up an object the force you apply to the object as you grip it is the same as the force-to-load the stretch film applies to the load.)
  • This containment force draws all the elements of the load (boxes, bags, pails, etc.) together, resisting independent movement.
  • Independent movement of components within the load will allow an uneven distribution of force during transportation and it is the single greatest contributor to load failure.

I know this may seem like a lot to absorb, but if you understand these concepts, you will be able to visualize what role the tacky surface plays in load containment and why its direction is important.

And now for the answers to your questions.

I will address the direction of the tack first: it should always be facing the inside of the load, and I am sure you will agree there is a good reason for this. It grips the side of the load when applied, which marginally contributes to load containment. But more importantly, If the tack is on the outside of the load, there is a high probability of damage when a trailer is loaded or unloaded because the stretch film on the pallets will stick together while one is stationary, and the other is being moved. Wraps of stretch film may be torn from the load but the worst-case scenario is that the stationary pallet may be pulled over or toppled by the pallet being moved. So, how do you know which side is which? Most all film manufacturers have an arrow marked inside the core to indicate how the roll should be loaded on your machine. Depending on the configuration of the carriage and direction of wrap the arrows may be up or down when the roll is loaded. If there is any question, you can unwind a small amount of film from the roll and rub outside-to-outside surfaces together, then do the same with inside-to-inside surfaces. One should have little to no friction and the other will tack together. The side with the tack should be applied against the load.

The answer to the “why does it have a tacky surface” question is a little more involved. Drawing on the basic concepts we reviewed earlier, when film is stretched it will contract or “recover” a percentage when the stretch force, in our case machine tension, is released at the end of the wrap cycle. Each layer applied to the load will tack or stick to the previous layer when it is under tension, and with each applied layer, the containment force it generates against the load when it contracts is multiplied. For many years, the answer to load containment challenges was simply to apply more layers or wraps to the load. But (and you knew there would be a but…), there is a point of diminishing returns where simply adding more layers generates so much containment force that it begins crushing the contents. So, while adding wraps maximized load containment, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have solved a load failure problem. It also means that you are probably putting on far more film than is necessary.

To truly optimize load containment and minimize film usage, you must reach the level of stretch necessary to remove most of the stretch in the film, which limits continued film stretch when forces are applied during transportation. There is a fine line though, because when you reach the stretch needed to maximize film performance, any puncture will cause a break in the web and then productivity suffers, and with web breaks (and the adjustments to minimize them) come load failures.

We have approached this age-old challenge by using science and incorporating some principles of physics. Our Rapid Bander technology incorporates reinforcement filaments that allow us to stretch the film several times more than conventional film, taking most of the stretch out. Yes, we still have a tack side, for all the reasons we discussed, but we do not rely on it as the primary ingredient of our load containment recipe. The result is better load containment (by reducing secondary stretch), even if force-to-load measurement are the same, with some added benefits; you will apply about half the film, and half the wraps.

Thanks for asking!

Steve

Thought that one was good?
Just wait until you read the next one!

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

April 22, 2024

Question from Stan: Is there an alternative to corner boards and strapping for loads that require ventilation without sacrificing load containment?

Hi Stan, thank you for submitting your question.

For many years the packaging standard for products that require ventilation, such as produce, has been to use corner boards and strapping, and very honestly, it has been very effective. Let’s explore what this method does well and what it doesn’t do so well. This will help us understand what alternatives may be viable for you.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

March 20, 2024

Question from Rudy: Our people measure force-to-load, but the numbers are always the same. Is that possible? If they are not accurately reporting load containment, then are we at risk of load failure during shipment?

Hi Rudy, thank you for submitting your question.

I have been asked this question by quite a few Plant Managers who have the same concern. Load containment is a fine balance among the number of wraps, film weight, applied stretch, load configuration, and so on. What you are trying to identify with your audits are the changes that will affect your stretch film cost per pallet and/or load containment so that balance can be corrected, and you can maintain your standards.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

February 23, 2024

Question from Andrew: We are plagued with load failures, even though we have good force-to-load. If we put any more tension on, we will crush our boxes. If we have good FTL, why are we seeing so many load failures?

Hi Andrew, thanks for sending in your question. You may be surprised to learn that it is a very common problem.

You will be happy to know that it can be solved, it just requires the application of a little science.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

January 23, 2024

Question from Gavin: I was told by a supplier that the percent you can stretch film increases with thickness and the term ultimate strength was used. What does that mean and is it true that thick films can be stretched more?

Hi Gavin, Thanks for the question, it is a subject that is widely misunderstood.Let me begin by defining the functional role of stretch film, because we should never lose sight of that. Motion of product on the pallet during transportation is at the root of most all load failures. Stop the movement, stop the load failures. When forces act upon the load as it travels from point A to B, the components of the load are put in motion. The stretch wrap must provide an equal and opposite force to prevent that movement.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

December 21, 2023

Question from Miles: We are getting a lot of pressure from corporate to use stretch film with post-consumer recycled content. If we do, will we be able to achieve the same load containment that we have now?

Hi Miles, Your question could not have been better timed. There is a lot of discussion regarding corporate directives as well as upcoming state and federal regulations that are pushing in the direction of PCR films, and I see a growing number of products that are marketed specifically to answer that demand. So, I am going to step away from the marketing hype you may be hearing and give you some solid (science-based) facts that I hope will help you make the right decisions.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

November 22, 2023

Question from Alfred: I’m constantly told by salespeople that downgauging our stretch wrap will save us money. What are the risks (pitfalls/potential issues) of downgauging stretch wrap to reduce film costs?

Hi Alfred, I am sure everyone reading this has had the same thing presented to them at some point by a salesperson selling stretch film. While that may be true on paper, let’s explore what really happens when you downgauge film.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

October 19, 2023

Question from Sally: We are experiencing a lot of load failures between our plant and warehouse, which is just about 5 miles away. There are no bumps, few turns, one stop light, and no hills. What could be causing the failures?

Hi Sally, I am very impressed with the great questions people in the industry are asking, and this is certainly one of them! Forces experienced during normal driving conditions (turning, start/stop, up and down hill) should not be sufficient to cause a load failure between your facilities if the pallets are properly wrapped. Let me explain why.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

September 22, 2023

Question from Abby: How does stretch wrap machine condition affect load containment?

Hi Abby, that is a great question! I can confirm that machine condition will affect load containment, and in addition, it will affect your film usage. Now, let’s explore why machine condition is tied to load containment and film usage.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

August 22, 2023

Question from Rob: How do the new high-performance stretch films compare to your Rapid Bander.

Hi Rob, great question, and one I am certainly not afraid to answer. For many years there was little advancement in stretch film technology because, after all, it’s just something you wrap around the product before it ships! More recently, when pressed by customers experiencing significant load failures, stretch film companies began looking closer at various resin blends to achieve higher performance. And by higher performance, I mean an improvement in load containment.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

July 26, 2023

Question from Ray: I see that your Rapid Bander system uses 2 rolls of film as opposed to the normal 1 roll. Does it mean that each revolution of the machine counts for 2 wraps?

Hi Ray, thanks for the question and the opportunity to clarify something that a lot of people have misunderstood.

The quick answer: we apply one wrap for each revolution of load, not two. Or to put it another way, you are wrapping the pallet with a single web of film, formed from two layers provided by the two rolls. Now, let me explain why, even with two rolls, you are not applying more film to your pallet.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

June 22, 2023

Question from Ted: We have stretch wrap machines, but I really don’t understand how they work. Can you explain the basic function and what adjustments can be made?

Hi Ted, thanks for a really great question. I have talked at length about stretch film and the physics of load containment, but have not really focused on the stretch wrap machine itself, which is an integral part of the process.

There are several types of machines in use, but they all have some basic elements in common.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

May 18, 2023

Question from Ally: How much film do we need to apply to a pallet of our product for good load containment?

Hi Ally, and thanks for your question. Let’s start by defining the role that stretch film plays in load containment, and then we can get into more specifics.

First and foremost, the job of the stretch film is to prevent movement of product throughout the load. So, by definition, it must resist the forces which are applied to the load during transport. This is achieved in two ways:

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

April 25, 2023

Question from Jordan: Do the corners of the tier sheets poking through the stretch film affect load containment?

Hi Jordan, thanks for the question. I know this will come as a surprise, but there are two answers to this question.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

March 16, 2023

Question from Eli: How much film should we be using to wrap our pallets?

Hi Eli, thanks for submitting your question! There are several factors that come into play when determining the right amount of film to apply. First and foremost is to identify what is most important to you. Limiting stretch film cost per pallet, preventing load failures during transportation (or in the warehouse), or reducing source material are the three main categories. For some, it may be increasing capacity or throughput, without adding facility, equipment, or personnel by reducing the number of wraps applied, although I know that does not apply in your case.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

February 16, 2023

Question from Howard: Have you been able to duplicate your test lab results at customer locations?

Hi Howard, what a great question, and one I am sure is in the mind of anyone with whom we discuss a lab project. The short answer is yes, in every case we have been able to duplicate our lab results at customer locations, improving load containment, reducing film usage, increasing machine throughput, and saving them money.

There are several reasons that we have had such great success.

plastic pottles

in the news

March 1, 2023

less packaging, more sustainability

Food Technology Magazine talks about packaging reduction. They mention Rapid Rpoer Plus as a way to replace traditional solutions.

Read the full article here.

packaging reductions

in the news

February 10, 2023

6 Packaging Reductions That Don’t Increase Food Waste

Packaging Digest discusses three lightweighting techniques and three redesign innovations that reduce the amount of food packaging without a downside. They cite Rapid Roper Plus as an effective tactic for replacing heavier packaging materials.

Read the full article here.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

January 19, 2023

Question from Jesse: Is the testing you do in your lab an ISTA test?

Thanks for the question, Jesse. It is a question that comes up often when customers send product to our lab for testing. The test protocol used in our lab is different from what is used by ISTA.

Ask Steve

Ask Steve

December 15, 2022

load containment follow up

We had a great response from the last Ask Steve post. Several of you asked about Total Applied Stretch and how it factors into load containment. So, I thought that would be an excellent follow up question to answer.

Ask Steve

ask steve

November 17, 2022

Question from Clint: Why do we have load failures, even when we meet our corporate force to load containment standard?

That is a great question Clint, and a very common issue (and one that is not well understood).

Rapid Bander

ask steve

October 18, 2022

If we switch to Rapid Bander could we reduce the thickness of our ECT box?

Today, we are more aware of the impact that our waste stream creates on the planet, and as a result, we are more focused on every opportunity we can find to reduce source content. Rapid Bander will certainly have a major impact in the reduction of stretch film used, but it can also open the door to downgauging secondary packaging.

Let’s start by understanding the function that the ECT (edge crush test) box provides.

Rapid Bander

solutions

October 13, 2022

Do you know the # 1 reason that your pallets fail during transit?

The answer is simple: Lack of load containment strength and stability.

Rapid Bander, Rapid Roper, and Rapid Roper Plus Sustainable Load Containment Systems deliver up to 300% greater load stabiity and reduce the economic cost per pallet wrapped by at least 25%. They also reduce stretch film usage and greenhouse gas generation by 40-60%.

Rapid Bander

Cost Savings

September 11, 2020

Do you know why rapid bander is better than your palletization Process?

The Rapid Bander® Sustainable Load Containment System reduces the economic and environmental costs associated with properly protecting hard-to-handle shipments. These include products that are heavy, unsteady, valuable, or costly to remediate in the event of load failures. Relevant applications include boxes, bottles, buckets, pails, drums, cans, sacks, and bags.

Rapid Bander

ask steve

September 9, 2022

Would a lighter gauge full web film provide more savings, or would we not be able to apply as much pre-stretch resulting in the same weight of film per pallet wrapped?

Hi Sherry, I really appreciate your question. Many purchasing professionals, like yourself, look for every opportunity to minimize their stretch film spend. This question shows you are really thinking outside the box!

Rapid Bander

Sustainability

August 18, 2022

What's the most sustainable stretch film?

It's the film that keeps your products securely on your pallets.

Rapid Bander

ask steve

April 14, 2022

Question from Fred: What is the optimum number of inches that you should wrap on the pallet itself to best secure the load to the pallet and not be damaged by forklift tearing film?

Hi Fred, let’s start with how we contain the load itself, then address attaching it to the pallet.

Rapid Bander

ask steve

March 17, 2022

Question from Gary: If cycle time is not an issue, do you get better overall value (containment & cost) by using thicker film with fewer revolutions or thinner film with more revolutions on average?

Hi Gary, That is a very good question and one that has been asked several times, so definitely something on people’s minds.

Rapid Bander

Sustainability

How the Right Packaging Can Help You Meet Your Sustainability Objectives

Concern for the environment is becoming less of a “hot topic” and more of a necessity. Whether through government regulation or company initiatives, companies are having to change the way they think about their ecological footprint.

Rapid Technologies

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