Unwrapping the process – Load profiles

Unwrapping the process – Load profiles

The first thing we do when assessing a client’s wrap needs is to carefully examine the load profiles required. We need to understand the pallet contents first and foremost. In simple terms loads are divided into three categories.

pallet load types

Application Specialist Jed Goudie looks into the everyday processes of wrap analysis and pallet packaging improvement.

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Load A: This is the Captain Consistent of load profiles, a very uniform stack of cartons that fits the footprint of the pallet. Such loads are generally found in production plants.

Load B: This load is a bit of a mix and match, with protrusions greater than 50mm but less than 100mm. These are mixed pallets of items that do not match the pallet footprint perfectly, and they’re normally found inside a 3PL or grocery DC operation.

Load C: These are the ‘ugly ducklings’ of the pallet world, loads with protrusion greater that 100mm that are predominantly found in hardware and sports DCs. If you’ve ever tried to secure kayaks, rakes and baseball bats to a pallet you’ll know what it takes to transform such pallets into ‘beautiful swans’.

If companies are changing from predominantly one load profile to another then they’ll be needing to undertake a wider operational assessment beyond what’s simply going around the pallet. At this time we’ll carefully weigh cost versus benefit, ensuring any recommendation is kept as simple and straightforward as possible for the team on the ground.

When assessing the load we also take into account these considerations:

Weight. Load weight is very important. As a rule of thumb wrap force should be a minimum of 1% of the films load (i.e. a 500kg pallet should have at least 5kg of film force on the pallet).

Stacking. Column stacked provides the best strength vertically as the edges and corners of each carton is directly on top of the other. However an interlocked pallet load will not shift so easily in transit.

Dimensions. A wide-based pallet that’s relatively low in height is very stable when compared with a small, narrow pallet that’s high.

Value. Yes, you always want to be efficient. But it’s still important to recognize that a pallet of expensive wine is different to a pallet of canola oil.

Density. A 1000 kg pallet of water travels differently to a 1000 kg pallet of bricks. A good application specialist will recognise this and treat it accordingly.

There are plenty of other factors too – everything from how filled a truck or container is on average to the rigidity of products, load stability and much more. 

Get it wrong and the costs can be high. An international study in 2007 showed that manufacturers’ unsellable rates ranged from 0.4% to 2.64%. Damage in transit is a major contributor to these rates. Then there are the human costs. A collapsed load can kill.

Ultimately the load should arrive at its destination in the form it left in. Importantly too, the correctly secured load won’t injure anyone or be damaged in the event of a mishap.

This all starts with the right profiling measures. When a load is correctly profiled and wrapped the dispatch team will be using the right type of film with the right tension and the right number of rotations each and every time. It’s common sense – but it needs specialist expertise to achieve.

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