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Don’t Let Careless Palletizing Ruin Your Print Shipment

forklift-w-palletBasically, any individual parcel is subject to huge stress during transit. There is nothing worse than completing a beautiful project and having it rejected due to transit damage.

One way to minimize transit damage is to ‘unitize’ your shipment for transport with the carefully planned use of corrugated boxes stacked on pallets and wrapped. In a sense you are turning many individual parcels into one giant parcel.

The Fiber Box Association is dedicated to the corrugated box industry and in their manual they disclose some surprising statistics regarding factors that significantly affect the strength of your palletized (or unitized) shipments.

Storage time under load. Palletized boxes sitting in storage for 10 days can lose up to 37% of their compression strength? At 180 days, it’s 50%.

Relative Humidity (RH). At 50% RH there is no loss of strength. At 100% RH there is an 85% loss.

Pallet Patterns. The popular interlocked stacking pattern can cause a 40-60% loss of strength whereas the columnar aligned pattern has a 0-8% loss.

Pallet Overhang. If the boxes hang over the edge of the pallet, even as little as 1/2”, you can expect a 20-40% loss of strength.

Pallet Deck Board Gap. Gaps in the pallet deck can cause 10-25% loss of strength. Those gaps mean there is no support underneath that part of the box.

Excessive Handling. You can lose up to 40% here. Simply put, the more you handle the pallets the weaker the boxes become.

There are, however several simple things to watch for to ensure your palletized shipments arrive intact.

  1. Avoid platform overhang.
  2. Use the full pallet.
  3. Use stretch wrap or other unitizing aids.
  4. Use corrugated inserts or partitions within the box to increase compression strength.
  5. Try changing the box weight or product orientation.
  6. Columnar Stacking.

If you’re having problems with palletized shipments, take a few minutes to review. The answer could be as simple as those listed above.

Thanks to Andre Palko of the Technifold Bindery Success Blog for much of the information in this blog.