How to Shrink Wrap a Pallet Correctly
Shrink-wrapping (or more accurately “Stretch-wrapping”) is a packaging technique used in industry to secure items to a pallet.
It entails using a roll of thin, stretchable plastic film to apply many layers of holding power for the job. Often people do not put enough thought into this chore and the results are not as effective as they could be. There is an art and etiquette to shrink-wrapping objects to a pallet.
1) Choose the right pallet: Place your items to be shipped or stored onto a sturdy pallet. Try to find a pallet that is just the right size to accommodate the amount of boxes or other materials you are palletizing. This will help to save you from tearing the plastic film on sharp corners of the pallet. Be certain that the items you are about to wrap are as close to one another on the pallet as possible. If they have room to shift around after you’ve applied the shrink wrap the entire unit will become loose and ineffective. Brace items against one another.
2) Make it easy: Set your pallet to be wrapped on a short stack of empty pallets. This will make it easier to wrap since you won’t need to bend over so far. It helps to set your pallet diagonally at a 45 degree angle rather than square on the stack (so that the bottoms of each corner overlaps the top edge of the stack beneath). Make sure the pallet does not wobble up there!
3) Attaching the shrinkwrap: Take your shrinkwrap roll and peel out about a yard of plastic. Squeeze 8 inches or so of the end together into a loose rope shape and thread this through and around one corner of the pallet. Don’t bother tying a knot. Simply hold the end snug as you fold the rest of the yard over it. The plastic sticks to itself so this should be sufficient to keep it from pulling loose when you begin to wrap.
4) Make your foundation strong: Wrap around the base of the pallet in the same direction that was begun when you made the fold. Ensure that you wrap the base enough times so that your plastic will not slip off. This is the most important step since the goal is to keep your goods on the pallet. Wrap that base at least four or five times, being careful to allow the edge of the wrap to go underneath the corners. Pull the roll tightly just before going around each corner.
5) Secure the goods: Basically you want the entire pallet to feel like a unit; Everything should move as one, without wobbling. With that in mind, work your way up from the base so that the bottom boxes are first to be “married” with the pallet. Continue wrapping so that the next layer is joined firmly to the first and so on. Be sure to take as much stretch as possible out of the plastic film while you are wrapping.
6) Test and finish: When you reach the top of the pallet you can either end there or wrap back down the pallet again. To decide what is needed, try pushing the upper boxes to see if the load seems tight or loose. If you see the plastic ripple or the stack wobble, you either didn’t wrap tightly enough or it needs more layers. Go around it a few more times, working your way back down to the base. When the stack is firm, tear the film apart from the roll and fold the end of it under the edge of one of the wraps at the side of the pallet. This will keep your wrap job from coming undone.
Do not tie the shrinkwrap to the pallet with a knot! This is an issue of both etiquette and time-economy. Not only does it take you extra time to make the knot, but somewhere down the line someone will have to take out their knife and sever that knot. The plastic film sticks to itself, so knots are unnecessary.
For a little added strength at the end of wrapping move to the center of your pallet and go around one more time. As you go around flip your shrink wrap to create an X in the wrap. This allows you to pull much harder without breaking the wrap and also adds stability.
WARNING …Do not wrap too loosely as this will allow the plastic wrap to stretch while in transit. Always stretch the plastic to the point of almost breaking. The more “stretch” you can take out of it the more firmly it will hold.