Protecting loads during the distribution process is paramount for many companies, and guaranteeing that a shipment of goods arrives safely at its destination depends on optimizing the package. In line with this, liquid packaging is a solution for the transportation of various goods (especially fluids) that require special characteristics to stay protected.
Liquid packaging: definition and characteristics
Liquid packaging is a type of multilayer package that is designed to protect certain loads during transportation. It is generally used to protect liquid products, such as water, juices, milk, thick sauces or purées; or as perfume packaging.
This type of packaging is available in different geometries and may or may not be equipped with a cap or an “easy-open” system.
Among its features, we can find the protective layers that make up the liquid packaging. To guarantee the safety of the goods, its layers include barrier elements that reduce the effect of phenomena that may taint the product (such as, for example, the light exposure). Other times, these layers include elements that turn it into an active packaging.
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How to store and transport liquid packaging
Liquid packaging has certain characteristics that make them unique when compared to other types of packaging, which is why successfully protecting it demands special care.
Certain package strategies need to be adopted when transporting and storing goods involving liquid packaging:
- The use of reinforcements needs to be considered when placing the load on pallets. These reinforcements may be made out of tertiary packaging film, shrink film (which allows cargo to be grouped together), anti-skid film or grouping packaging.
- To guarantee that caps do not become a hazard, grouping boxes or intermediate cardboard sheets with perforations (to protect the caps) may be used. Otherwise, a gable top design may be used as well.
- It will be necessary to know the specific conditions required to preserve the product that is being transported. There are products that require refrigeration for their preservation; others may not be exposed to light… Each of these products will require specific care measures that have to be known and fulfilled in order to protect the load.
- Storage times will need to be given special attention to control that they are not excessive, since liquid packaging is particularly sensitive to the passage of time when used as a standalone packaging. While generally the products that are transported in this type of package have an expiration date (which means storage times are controlled), the package should be monitored in the case of products with long shelf lives.
Damages that liquid materials may suffer and how to prevent them
During transportation, liquid materials are exposed to a series of hazards that may damage them.
The knowledge of the technical specifications of the liquid may be used to keep the cargo safe, optimizing the packaging system to reduce costs for companies.
On one hand, the irregular geometry of liquid packaging, together with the presence of caps, adds a technical complication when transporting and storing these types of packages.
When stacking a load, precautions should be taken to prevent caps from damaging the bottom of the load, or the cargo being stacked from damaging the caps. To accomplish this, diverse strategies are implemented, such as the use of grouping boxes or intermediate cardboard sheets with perforations to protect the caps. For their part, gable top designs are useful to prevent these types of damages.
On the other hand, one should keep in mind that gases are contained inside the package along with the liquid being transported. This gas provides rigidity to the package, but environmental conditions may negatively affect it. Changes in atmospheric pressure (often experienced during air transport) may affect the loads being transported in a liquid packaging.
Take, for example, the pressure difference between the airport of Lima (Peru), which is 34 meters above sea level, and the airport of La Paz (Bolivia), at El Alto, 4061m above sea level. Any product that is packaged in Lima will go from 760mm Hg to 470mm Hg when arriving at El Alto. This means that the package will need to compensate for the drop in external pressure and sometimes lead to leaks. In the opposite case, one typical problem is that the container collapses.
Furthermore, one should keep in mind that the fact that liquid packaging contains liquid loads leads to the forces of inertia having a special role during transportation. This means that these types of loads are especially sensitive to angular and linear accelerations. To prevent this, reinforcements may be placed on the pallets, as per different packaging strategies.
There are also different types of hazards based on the means of transportation employed to transport the liquid packaging:
- For air transportation, contents may be lost due to pressure differences or the existence of permanent deformations. The cargo may also lose its stability.
- In sea freight, the cargo may lose its stability or get damaged due to the moisture. The looks of the package may also get significantly deteriorated.
- In road transportation, damages may be caused due to crushing or a loss of stability.
How to prevent damages when transporting liquid packaging
In the face of all of these hazards, measures will need to be taken to prevent damages.
Among the most efficient precautions to protect the cargo transported in the liquid packaging will be the knowledge of the product transported to perfection: sable of its strengths and weaknesses to take the necessary measures to protect it.
- The first thing that you need to do is know the product in-depth.
- In addition, you will also need to know the needs of the distribution cycle: the means of transportation, trip duration, selected routes and cargo destination, along with storage periods, environmental conditions present and cargo handling methods in use.
- Third, you will need to design and/or optimize the packaging that will contain the product in a way that fulfills all the requirements to protect the load, based on the two points mentioned above.
- Lastly, it is possible to test whether the liquid packaging fulfills all of these requirements through experimentation, such as packaging tests and transportation simulations.
How to test liquid packaging
Package testing and transport simulation machines will allow you to forecast how the conditions and external hazards will affect the package being transported, which will allow for its protection.
This means that, by using measuring equipment, the conditions experienced by the product during transportation and storage (possible shocks, drops, vibrations, etc., along with expected environmental conditions) may be recorded, to then design tests that simulate these phenomena under controlled conditions.
There are a series of tests that ensure the safety of loads being transported in liquid packaging:
- With this type of packaging, acceleration and impact tests are especially important, since inertia particularly influences these types of materials.
Safe Load Testing Technologies’ incline impact tester allows for package tests that simulate horizontal impacts on loads and the way in which they affect the packaging.
- Additionally, the packaging may be tested with vibration tests, which measure the influence that these motions have on the package, as well as the package’s protective ability. In addition to vertical vibrations, it is also important to include the effect caused by the cargo’s pitch and roll.
In line with this, Safe Load TT holds the patent for its Vibration + Pitch & Roll machine, which obtains results that are closer to what is actually experienced during transportation.
- Drop tests will also be important – especially depending on the volume of liquid contained.
The Drop Tester allows for the simulation of drops and rotational impacts in packages of up to 1000 kg (2,205 lb.), falling from a height of up to 2 meters (78 ¾ inches).
- Furthermore, it will be vital to perform these tests inside environmental chambers that generate the same damages that the weather would cause, since some product-package systems considerable change the way they respond to these tests under different environmental conditions.
For example, testing how the liquid packaging protects the load in the case of a change in pressure will be vital: performing a test in this sense can mean the difference between success and disaster.
At Safe Load Testing Technologies we have the experience and technical capabilities to help you test your liquid packaging.
Leading companies such as Itene, Duo Plast and Newton Research have already put their trust in us to guarantee the safety of their loads during shipping & handling.
Get in touch with us and we will help you protect your products, saving costs and guaranteeing the satisfaction of your customers.