Transportation packaging is charged with protecting goods during transportation to end consumers. It is used to group the secondary packaging and make it easier to handle, unify, transport and prevent damages to products.

The type of packaging can make the difference between a successful freight or economic and product losses.

Thanks to research, transport packaging solutions are increasingly sophisticated and provide a greater protection. Which is why it is advisable to know what materials are available to guarantee safety during freight transportation.

Packaging transport objectives

The main goal of transportation packaging is to protect the load during freight transportation.

No matter the route that is chosen to distribute the products, the transportation packaging needs to be manufactured in a way that can absorb any impacts suffered by the product, and protect the goods from the elements, such as moisture or high temperatures.  

Transportation packaging needs to be tailored to the route to be traversed and the various phases that can pose a hazard to the goods. This includes processes such as loading and unloading during transportation, as well as the warehousing of these products.  

This being the case, packaging and transportation go hand in hand across many research processes to guarantee a higher cargo safety.

In general, transportation packaging (also called tertiary packaging) should be robust, light, easy to handle and occupy the least possible space. The most common types include pallets and skids, generally made out of wood or plastic, on which the cargo to be baled is placed. These may be single-use or reusable, as well as stackable or nestable.

An adequate packaging will protect your goods until they arrive at their destination during cargo transportation.

Conversely, a packaging that does not fit the product’s or the transportation process’ characteristics may lead to great losses and an abysmal image before the customer.

Transport packaging solutions: types and characteristics on the market

Choosing the right transportation packaging is therefore an essential process.

There are many and wildly varying transport packaging solutions on the market tailored to different forms of freight transportation.  

Shrink wrap

Shrink wrap is a thick film that wraps around the cargo unit and adjusts to it by shrinking. It is sold in rolls that will need to be larger than the unit to be wrapped.

When properly applied, shrink wrap can be highly effective in attaining a high rigidity during cargo transportation. In addition, its advantages include that it is easy to apply and remove.

However, it also has a few disadvantages, such as a high cost and that it easily reacts to heat and fire.

Stretch wrap

Stretch wrap is a film that shrinks after being stretched. Just like shrink wrap, it is sold in rolls, though they should be smaller than the cargo unit.

In freight transportation, it is applied by a special machine that is fast and automatic, and requires significant forces.

Among other advantages, it provides protection to adverse environmental conditions and it is cheaper than shrink wrap.

As a disadvantage, you need to find the right wrap size for each cargo unit.

Stretch wrap needs to perfectly adjust to the goods, because a few centimeters slack from the optimal size may endanger the cargo unit.

Cargo transportation using elastic wrap

Elastic wrap is usually offered in rolls 50 cm wide, and applying it to transportation packaging requires a tool that stretches it to twice its size.

Which is why its disadvantages include that it cannot be adequately applied by hand, and that the parameters to correctly wrap the cargo vary significantly.

On the other hand, when choosing this method, a noteworthy advantage is the ability of elastic wrap to attain the necessary rigidity for any kind of cargo unit.

Freight transportation using pre-stretched wrap

Pre-stretched wrap is one of the most used transport packaging solutions in freight transportation.

This method allows cargo to be either manually or automatically wrapped. However, applying it manually does not always guarantee the rigidity of the cargo unit.

Straps to secure transportation packaging

Straps are another method to assist in transportation packaging. They are applied around the cargo unit either vertically or horizontally either manually or automatically.

The main advantage of straps is their low cost.

Their main disadvantage, on the other hand, is that they get loosened with time, and they might damage the products if improperly applied.

Cargo nets

Among transport packaging solutions we can find cargo nets.

Their main purpose is to stack products on a pallet, with the advantage that they are easy to install and uninstall. Furthermore, there are systems that allow nets to be automatically tensioned.

While nets can work for specific freight transportation methods, their use it is not particularly widespread in transportation packaging.  

For transport packaging solutions, it is not only necessary to know the packaging materials available, but also packaging methods and package testing methods.

On one hand, packaging methods come in two variants:

  • Transport packaging based on the shape of the goods, in which the products are mounted on a rigid structure.
  • Strength-based packaging, where the transportation packaging is made up of films and straps.

In addition, performing package tests to study the protective ability of the selected transportation packaging will be essential.

Both items are explained in detail in chapter 3 of the European best practices guidelines on cargo securing for road transport. 

Best practices to optimize transportation packaging

Best practices to optimize transportation packaging

Optimizing transportation packaging in a way that it can be used to offer protection during freight transportation can be accomplished through research and foresight.

Lighten your transportation packaging:

While the difference between one packaging and another may be a few grams, choosing a light packaging can imply significant savings in shipping costs in the long run.

With the help of packaging industry professionals, find alternatives that make your product lighter without compromising the safety of the loads.

Eliminate empty spaces to save and better secure the goods

Through packaging and transportation research, it is possible to find transport packaging solutions that reduce the volume of the packaging that you use.

According to a study by Peerless Research Group, “20% of each box or container shipped is made up of unused or vacuous space”. 

Eliminate empty spaces in your packaging and container cargo and you will be able to reduce costs: you will transport more goods in less space.

Optimize your transportation packaging based on your distribution cycle

Avoid damage to your goods during transportation using a transportation packaging that is tailored to the specific distribution cycle that it will undergo.

To accomplish this, keep the following in mind:

  • The storage conditions (how many boxes can be stacked without affecting the goods?)
  • The hazards associated with the specific transport that you will choose (acceleration or deceleration shocks, train or truck vibrations, etc.)
  • The presence of environmental phenomena (extreme humidity or temperatures, among others).

Transportation packaging simulation: why it is necessary

At Safe Load Testing Technologies we have been at the forefront of innovation and research in the packaging industry for over 20 years.

With our transport simulation equipment we have helped many companies set up their own laboratories to optimize transportation packaging, whether to test their own products or their clients’, or to offer package testing as a value added service.

Transportation packaging simulation allows for the simulation of the way in which adverse conditions affect packages and goods during their distribution.

For example, a vibration table (LINK ) can simulate the damages suffered by our tertiary packaging, optimizing it based on our distribution cycle, whether it involves sea, land or air transportation. In order for this simulation to more closely reflect real conditions, it is also possible to simulate the pitch and roll movements that take place during transportation by using a vertical vibration + pitch & roll system.

In addition, at Safe Load TT we can design ad hoc machines, adapting to the needs of each client and, for example, transforming an existing vertical vibration table into a vertical vibration + pitch & roll system thanks to our patented Pitch & Roll module.

It is also possible to determine the required type of packaging to protect the product during shipping & handling through various tests, such as the clamp test. This test, along with others, are part of testing protocols such as those developed by ISTA.

ISTA (International Safe Transit Association) is an organization that develops testing protocols and design standards that define how packages should be in order to guarantee the protection of their contents during the distribution cycle.

We help you design a transportation packaging that fits the product being transported and the route that it will follow, protecting the load and achieving major savings.

Get in touch with us and let’s discuss how we can help you find the transport packaging solutions that best suit your needs.

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