How to Properly Stretch Wrap a Pallet of Boxes

Boxes Wrapped on a Pallet

Whether your products travel by land, sea, or air, they run the very real risk of being damaged while in transit. Packaging Digest reports that anywhere from 2% to 11% of all shipments incur some form of damage by the time the products reach their final destination.

When it comes to wrapping a pallet of boxes with a pallet wrapper, there are several things that you can do that will help ensure a successful and secure wrap. Read on to learn more about how to properly shrink wrap a pallet and keep your goods safe and secure.

Assessment and Loading

When initially loading the pallet with your products, let common sense be your guide. Don’t try to stack too many boxes to save a few bucks on shipping costs. You could potentially create a situation where you’re hoping the wrap job will somehow be able to overcome the laws of physics.

Before you load the pallet onto the pallet wrapping machine, assess how stable your products are by learning how to calculate pallet load capacity. A general rule of thumb is that the heavier and less stable the load, the more stretch film you should apply.

Initial Setup

After you’ve loaded the pallet with boxes and placed it onto the pallet wrapping machine, head over to the control panel on the pallet wrapper and make the following adjustments:

Revolution speed — set this to an appropriate level. Too fast, and you can run the risk of toppling the load—however, you still want it to be fast enough to keep up with your production.

Carriage ascent and descent speeds — you should set them to optimize the film coverage throughout the load height. If you have the speed set too fast, you can leave uncovered gaps. Too slow, and you can be wasting film. Again, this depends on the pallet’s weight and stability— with more film needed with heavier and unstable pallets.

Film force tension — is another basic setting that you will want to dial in for a proper pallet wrap. Set the film force tension so that the film applied holds to the product but not so tight that you crush the load. Keep in mind that if you set it too tight, you can run the risk of film tearing, which can cause time delays or crushed boxes.

*Note that machines with power pre-stretch tend to need less film force tension because the film has memory and will constrict back to the load after being stretched through the film rollers.

Photo-eye delay setting — A setting within the controls allows you to get the film to curl over the top of the load. Typically, for an A-load, you’ll want around 3-6″ of overwrap to help contain the uppermost boxes on the pallet.

How Much Is Too Much Stretch Wrap?

As a general rule of thumb, a standard load of boxes that weighs less than 2,000 lbs shouldn’t need more than ~3 revolutions for the top and bottom wrap settings. Certainly, there are situations where you need to apply more film but be cautious not to waste time and money with too much stretch film.

Initial Test Wrapping

For the first pallet load, you should perform an initial test wrap. Yes, it will take a tiny bit longer, but once you get things dialed in, you’ll have a good idea of just how fast (or slow) you need to go when wrapping subsequent pallets.

In general, it is better to start with slower speeds for both the turntable and carriage and then incrementally work up to faster speed. This will help reduce the chance of film tearing on the pallet or load and give you a better idea of how much film to apply.

Typically, setting the tension at about halfway is a good starting point unless you have fragile boxes. In that case, start at around 20%. Once you’ve wrapped a few pallets, you’ll get a sense of how to optimize the cycle time and balance the appropriate amount of film.

Once the wrap is complete, pay particular attention to the bottom wraps to help secure the load to the pallet. Extra top wrap revolutions can also be helpful for unstable loads.

Have Questions or Need Help?

Learning the correct way to use your wrapping machine will help ensure a safe and secure loading experience—and a happy customer. If you have any questions about wrapping your pallets or your current pallet wrapping machine isn’t up to par, contact us today to learn more about how Handle It can help solve your toughest wrapping challenges.

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