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Pallet Stretch Wrap 101: How to Properly Stretch Wrap Packages

Posted by TigerPak on 10/25/2020
Pallet Stretch Wrap 101: How to Properly Stretch Wrap Packages

Without pallets, you won't be shipping very much very fast.

But pallets are only half of what you need. Stretch wrap is, perhaps, an even more important piece of the puzzle. If you don't apply the right amount of stretch wrap (and in the right way) to your pallet before you send it across the country, your products could end up falling off or sustaining a lot of damage.

That's why we've put together this guide to walk you through the stretch wrapping process step by step. Make sure you keep reading below to answer some common questions about stretch wrap and learn how to use it correctly.

Is Stretch Wrap the Same Thing as Shrink Wrap?

Not at all.

Although these plastics might look similar, they are two separate products, and you should never use them interchangeably.

For example, stretch wrap is a thin plastic used to ship or store pallets. Since this type of wrap is stretchy, it applies pressure to the individual items on the pallet, keeping them together and secure.

Shrinkwrap, on the other hand, wraps around retail products, such as foods, toys, CDs, etc. When you apply heat to shrink wrap, it tightens over the item, creating a tight cover.

Here's a quick breakdown of some of their other differences.

Stretch Wrap:

  • Is thin and stretchy
  • Use to package industrial products
  • Doesn't require any heat
  • Isn't safe for food usage
  • Usually thicker than shrink wrap (depending on the type)

Shrink Wrap:

  • Doesn't stretch
  • Used to package retail products
  • Needs heat to shrink and create a secure seal
  • Can package food items
  • Thinner and weaker than stretch wrap

Now that you know more about these two types of plastic wrap, make sure you buy the right type for your pallets. Shrinkwrap won't give you the security you need, and it will be much harder to apply to such large packages.

How to Stretch Wrap Pallets for Shipment and Storage

Before you grab the stretch wrap, start by making sure your pallets are packed properly. Each individual item should be stacked tightly together (don't leave any space between them), and the pallet itself should the right size for the load. Stretch wrap won't do much good if your products are too heavy for the pallet—it'll likely end up breaking during delivery.

If everything looks good with your pallet, follow these steps next:

1. Lift the Load

It will be much easier to wrap your pallet if it is off the floor. Leaving the pallet on the ground will make it difficult to secure the wrap around the bottom section, especially the corners (areas that need both extra attention and reinforcement).

The process won't only take longer without raising the pallet, it will also put your products at risk of damage during shipment.

2. Get the Wrap Started

Take the end of your stretch wrap and twist it together to make a sort of plastic-rope. This will help it grip the package so it stays in place while you're wrapping.

Weave the bunched-up end through one side of the pallet—no need to tie a knot. Then start wrapping the rest of the stretch wrap around the pallet.

3. Wrap the Bottom First

You need to wind several layers of the stretch wrap around the bottom half of the package first—about four or five. Keep the all the layers in the same spot so you're stacking the wrap. This will keep the contents from slipping off the pallet as you continue wrapping.

4. Work Your Way Up

Once you have a secure base, you can wrap the rest of the pallet. Overlap each layer of stretch wrap by about 50% so it creates a strong seal.

Again, go over the pallet several times until you have multiple layers over the entire thing. Otherwise, the contents can move or shift during the shipping process, which can damage them.

And make sure the stretch wrap stays taught and tight as you go. A loose wrapping job will allow the products to move or rub up against each other.

5. Secure the Ends

Once you finish wrapping, tuck the end of your stretch wrap under another layer. Don't leave any ends exposed. It's easy for these ends to catch on other items during delivery, which can make the entire pallet start to unravel.

6. Give It a Final Check

Do a quick inspection of your pallet to ensure there isn't any extra space between the items, the stretch wrap is tight, and the entire package is secure. If there are any sections that seem weak or thin, go ahead and add another layer or two.

Should You Invest in a Stretch Wrap Machine?

The answer to this question depends on the size and needs of your business.

If you need to push out more than 15 loads a day, you may need a stretch wrap machine to help you keep up with demand. Otherwise, handheld stretch wrap tools should be all you need to make your pallets safe and secure.

Speed up the Shipping Process by Stretch Wrapping More Pallets

Wrapping your pallets properly might take some practice. However, if you follow the tips in this guide and use our helpful stretch wrap tools, you'll be packaging and shipping your pallets quickly and efficiently in no time.

Not sure what type of stretch wrap tool will best fit your needs (or not sure how many you need)? Don't hesitate to get in touch with our team at TigerPak at 800-635-3851. We're happy to help you find the product(s) that'll benefit your business the most.