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Shrink wrapping pallets is an industrial packaging technique used to secure freight items to a pallet for shipment. The more appropriate term for this practice is “stretch-wrapping,” as the task involves wrapping many layers of a thin, stretchable plastic (almost like the plastic wrap in your kitchen) around the freight items and pallet.
It is the tautness and quantity of layers which gives the wrap the strength to hold the freight items and pallet together. Often, careless stretch-wrapping will lead to disastrous results when it comes time for transportation.
Shrink wrapping pallets and freight items for transportation not only protects the items from the environment, it holds them together so that you minimize the possibility of loss.
The following steps should give you some insight on how to shrink wrap a pallet. We’ll go trough the proper way to stretch-wrap (another term for shrink-wrap), saving you time and frustration in the future.
Step 1: Choosing the Correct Pallet
The whole packaging process will be disastrous if you do not choose the appropriate pallet for your freight in the first place. Every pallet you consider should be sturdy and in good condition. Select the appropriate size that will fit all freight items without the stack being precariously tall.
Also, different industries and countries have different pallet size standards, so take this into account when choosing a pallet.
Optional: Once you have a pallet selected, place the pallet on other similarly sized pallets at a 45-degree angle. This is simply to place your pallet higher in the air. In some cases, this will make stretch-wrapping easier, giving you more leverage to wrap around the pallet’s corners. However, think ahead. Only do so if you have safe means, such as a forklift, to lower the pallet from the stack.
Step 2: Stacking the Freight Items
Stack the freight items closely together so that they are braced well. This is crucial. If they have room to shift around after you have wrapped the pallet, the packaging is ineffective and is at risk of unraveling. If the pallet unravels, items may fall and create risk for item damage and personal danger.
Step 3: Attaching the Plastic Wrap
The very first thing you do when you are ready to stretch-wrap your pallet unit is to securely attach one end of the plastic wrap to the pallet. You should use one continuous length of plastic wrap for the entire stretch-wrapping process.
To begin shrink wrapping pallets, unroll approximately 1-yard plastic wrap, and then squeeze the end’s final 8 inches into a rope shape. Thread this “rope” portion through and around a corner of the pallet. Hold this rope-loop snug to the pallet corner, and then fold the remaining plastic wrap over it to begin its first revolution around the pallet. The plastic wrap will stick to itself, making itself secure. You do not need to tie a knot at any point.
Step 4: Stretch-Wrapping
Now is time to do the bulk of the stretch-wrapping.
Continuing wrapping in the direction that was begun in step 3. First, wrap around the base of the pallet and item stack. Wrap the base tightly at least four or five times, or as many times needed to ensure that the plastic wrap will not slip off. Ensure that you allow the bottom edge of the plastic wrap to extend to the bottom edge of the pallet foundation.
Continue wrapping upwards from the base. The freight items at any height should have at least four or five layers of plastic wrap.
Keep in mind that, when wrapping, you should attempt to stretch the plastic wrap to its limits. This will ensure maximum holding strength. Also, if you do not do this, the plastic wrap may stretch during transit, loosening your work and creating risk.
Step 5: Checking Your Work
Once complete, ensure that your pallet foundation and freight items seem like one unit. They all should move as one, and nothing should wobble.
For a little added strength and convenience in pulling the pallet, go to the center of the pallet unit for one more revolution. During the revolution, twist the wrap 180-degrees once. This twist can act as a grip that can be pulled much harder without breaking.
When satisfied, tear the plastic wrap away from the roll and pat down in place.