According to some experts, shipping damages cost approximately $2 billion US Dollars (USD) per year. Proper pallet packaging may reduce these costs significantly. There are many different types of packaging. Some of the common types of packaging include traditional polyethylene plastic, pre-stretched plastic, and perforated plastic. Some packaging requires manual application, while other products require machinery, such as heat-shrink equipment.
Before the popularity of plastic, shipping workers banded pallets with metal straps. Today, some companies still use metal or plastic banding. It is especially effective if the pallet holds one large carton, such as a stove. Banding generally requires a hand-held, pneumatic tool that pulls the banding tight and secures it.
Plastic wrapping offers a business several levels of protection. It holds smaller, irregular-shaped cartons together more effectively than pallet straps. Clear plastic pallet packaging allows the shipper and receiver to see the product. Black or dark-colored plastic offers some security by concealing the product. Plastic wrap offers some protection from moisture damage, but in some cases it may cause moisture damage.
To avoid some of the moisture problems, companies use perforated or plastic netting. This plastic wrap offers many advantages to companies that ship items that need refrigeration or freezing. The holes in the plastic allow the product temperature to attain the required storage temperature quickly. The ability to breathe reduces the energy costs of maintaining a set temperature.
The perforated plastic pallet packaging is breathable and allows fruits to expel gases that commonly cause early spoilage. Other products that benefit from breathable wrap include flower and vegetable plants, fruits and vegetables, and eggs and cheese. Another advantage is that it adds less volume to landfills than traditional or solid plastics.
Solid plastic pallet packaging has a memory similar to that of a rubber band. This memory gives it a rubber-band effect when a worker stretches it around the cartons on a pallet. It is available in traditional or pre-stretched plastic. The pre-stretched plastic pallet packaging is usually safer to use in manual applications.
As pre-stretched plastic is lighter than traditional polyethylene, it is more environmentally friendly. Another advantage of the pre-stretched plastic is the cost. Normally, it is less expensive to purchase and use than the traditional plastic.
A new system replaces plastic wrap. The pallet packaging system uses a patented ratcheting mechanism and straps to secure the pallet's contents. Often this system requires special stacking bins for small items, but workers can use it with traditional pallets. A company can adapt it to wooden, metal, or various types of plastic or foam pallets. It is an environmentally responsible product and increases worker safety because he or she does not use a knife or utility blade to cut the plastic.
Some companies use an adhesive system to secure the cartons on a pallet. Workers treat each carton with a special adhesive. The glue holds the cartons securely. Adhesive applied to the pallet reduces the chance of slippage. Proponents of the system point out that it is environmentally friendly and, like the ratchet-and-strap system, is safer.