It all sounds a bit too good to be true doesn’t it? A new take on what most would see as packaging’s most maligned material – plastic machine pallet wrap. Huge amounts of it are used across the globe every day and we estimate that the UK alone uses over 150,000 tons of pallet wrap every year. It’s hard to imagine what that kind of volume looks like.  And how a product like this could possibly deliver sustainability on any level!

Pallet wrap has been with us one way or another for over 100 years.  As with anything, machine pallet wrap has been subject to development and has continued to evolve to where we are today. But where is that actually? Well, we’re at a stage where some of the pallet wrap being used today is a whole lot smarter, delivering real environmental as well as cost benefits. How’s that? Let’s find out!

Firstly, how can machine pallet wrap be eco-friendly?

Its eco-credentials go hand in hand with its cost-saving properties and it certainly isn’t for commonplace for pallet wrap to achieve these kinds of benefits. iWrap is a high-performance intelligent machine pallet wrap and truly a best in class product. The single-use plastic savings are unparalleled compared to any other pallet wrap on the market today. It’s these plastic savings that have really spoken volumes to brands such as IKEA, Waitrose and ASDA that are committed to reducing the amount of plastic they are using iWrap.

One client we are working with has seen game-changing benefits with 42.13% less plastic going to landfill as well as a reduction of  2,467.2 kgs of cardboard used each year. The graphic below shows everything iWrap was able to deliver for them.

Savings achieved with eco-friendly machine pallet wrap

Savings achieved with eco-friendly machine pallet wrap

 

All this from a simple product change!

Who would have thought this huge reduction in environmental impact could be delivered by a machine pallet wrap! With the Plastic Packaging Tax very much just around the corner now starting in April 2022, it’s important businesses realise and understand the scale of the issue and how this can and will affect them. With a levy of £200 per tonne on all plastic packaging, large users and going to be subject to a hefty tax bill.

The answer has to be to use less plastic. It makes sense financially as well as environmentally. There is also the possibility of exemption if a user can get their plastic packaging consumption to under 10 tonnes. We estimate that if you’re wrapping over 400 pallets a day using a 23-micron machine pallet wrap, you’ll be consuming 23 tonnes of waste plastic a year wrapping your pallets. 

So how could you bring that plastic usage down by over half to under just 10 tonnes? Using iWrap will deliver this staggering plastic reduction whilst still maintaining the same pallet stability, consistent pallet wrapping and damage-free deliveries to your customers – just as you have now, and in most cases better, with the much thicker 23-micron film.  And imagine how delighted your customers will be when receiving pallets from you with that kind of reduction of plastic on your deliveries! You get to deliver a cost-saving to them too!

On average, we see a reduction of 40% or more on the plastic used with iWrap

The video below shows the kind of plastic savings that can be achieved.

So what cost savings can machine pallet wrap deliver?

We saw in the graphic above an example of the types of savings gained from one of our customers using iWrap. Let’s look a little closer at these figures. Of course, the impressive one is the huge saving on the cost of the film alone at £36,120. That’s a staggering amount that any company would be overjoyed to save on their machine pallet wrap spend. The other cost savings are equally important and who wouldn’t appreciate gaining over a week back in time every year?! Imagine the impact of that in a busy warehouse – a 53 week year for the price of 52! Time savings and being able to free up resource is valuable for every business.

On average, we see a reduction of 25% on spend and in reality usually a lot more than this

The savings we have looked at here, combined with the ability to bring your machine pallet wrap usage to under 10 tonnes, avoiding the packaging tax are significant. Also, very large users can reduce their tax liability and end up paying a vastly reduced amount instead.

We did say it sounded too good to be true, didn’t we!

The easy way to understand the plastic and cost reductions for your own business is to get in touch with us for a plastic audit. It’s completely free and is a no-obligation meeting where we come to see your set-up and demo iWrap on your own pallet wrap machine.  You can see for yourself what this high-performance stretch wrap could deliver for your business. We’re always excited to have the opportunity to run these demos,  discovering savings for businesses nationwide. Our clients are pretty excited to see the results too!

So if this all sounds valuable to you, and if your company is committed to reducing environmental impact whilst looking at ways to cut costs – why not get in touch using the form below.

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How to prepare your online business for Q4 2021 during a cardboard packaging shortage

We’re finding many e-commerce retailers are still struggling with the current situation on packaging supplies and looking for solutions due to the ongoing cardboard shortage, especially those concerned about the all-important Q4. There will be no surprises in that Christmas 2021 is expected to see more people shopping online which in turn puts increasing pressure on raw materials with manufacturers already struggling to keep up with cardboard box and paper packaging supply. You can read our guide to the facts behind the cardboard crisis here.

The ‘golden quarter’ at the end of every year is traditionally retail’s opportunity for recovery and growth but it all becomes a little bit difficult if you have a big online presence or are purely eCommerce – and you have no cardboard boxes to ship your stock out in!

So what steps can you take right now to make sure you’re able to maximise your sales this Christmas by having all your packaging ready to go?

 

5 ways to overcome the cardboard shortage

  1. Talk to your packaging supplier.
    Discuss your forecasts with them as soon as possible to ascertain whether they have what you need right now as well as evaluating their confidence in getting new supplies over the next few months. Also, understand how they see pricing panning out for you.
  2. If you know what you need – order now if you can!
    Yes, it may be 4-5 months before you require it, but by working closely with a supplier that can hold your stock for you for free for example, which you can call off as and when you need it is a great solution. You’ll also get the benefit of better pricing due to placing larger orders. In this way, you won’t run out of stock or be deluged with 6 months of supply to store! This approach guarantees to get your important Q4 sales out the door.
  3. Don’t be tempted by single-use plastic alternatives.
    Consumers will punish brands who talk about ethical packaging being part of their core values and goals and then switch to plastic due to the situation. Again, the answer is to find a supplier willing to work with you to achieve your packaging ambitions and if absolutely has to be plastic, be sure to make it clear to your customers about its recycled content and ongoing recyclability, such as these polybags.
  4. Get prices locked in!
    Finding and working with a supplier with a plentiful supply of eco-friendly eCommerce stock right now will undoubtedly be your best bet! If they have done their own due diligence with their paper mills and their own suppliers etc, they will no doubt have been hard at work on securing stock and resolving supply solutions for some time now, as we have. They should be able to offer you a good range with workable pricing, successfully navigating around the price hikes.
  5. Be open to something new!

    Beat the cardboard shortage with NEST eco-friendly packaging

    Beat the cardboard shortage with NEST eco-friendly packaging

Perhaps the cardboard shortage means it’s a time to re-look at your existing packaging, how it works with your products and the feedback from your customers. Is there room for improvement?  Try different solutions and discover innovative products that are really pushing eco-friendly boundaries. One such product is an eco-friendly void fill really maximising its green credentials. It’s called Zigglefil Kraft Eco and is probably the most eco-friendly void fill on the market today. Created as a manufacturing by-product of another very popular eco-friendly protective wrapping product called Snusghell, Zigglefil is delivered in reusable, recyclable cartons and sealed with paper tape. It doesn’t get much greener than that!

Beating the cardboard shortage together

Our cardboard shortage beater! The ecofriendly NEST packaging range

Our cardboard shortage beater! The eco-friendly NEST packaging range

We had the benefit of launching NEST, our new eco-friendly eCommerce packaging range last year which meant that we were sourcing and securing stock long before this current situation really took hold. Consequently, we have good supplies for cardboard boxes, mailers, wrapping and presentation products, void fill, paper tape as well as new paper document wallets.  You can shop our IN STOCK NEST range here

The beauty of the NEST range means you’re able to send a 100% eco-friendly parcel to your customer – both inside and out! This means the whole range is made from recyclable materials and is completely recyclable. Many products in the range are FSC accredited too. You can find out more about FSC products here.

If you have any queries on what eco-friendly products will work best for your product range, we’re here to help. We also offer free warehousing as well as direct to store delivery. Just pop us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch. And if you’d like a sample of any of the range, we’re more than happy to send some for you to see and try.

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Why should I optimise my eCommerce packaging for Royal Mail postal sizes?

The steady rise of e-commerce has seen something of an explosion, fuelled by the consequences of recent events. The bricks-and-mortar retail experience involving face-to-face interaction is fast being overtaken by the virtual, where your website and packaging become the main players in your customers’ shopping experience. In fact, 55% of customers would not recommend a poorly designed website that’s not optimised for mobile to their peers. Think about that! The online customer has come to expect a curated online experience and for mail-ordered goods to arrive in a presentable fashion and when promised.

Next, taking the time to research and optimise the design and style of packaging and presentation can result in the most exciting unpacking experience, potentially adding to the number of favourable reviews on your nicely optimised website. So what’s the impression of the parcel you sent them?  Is it one of care for the customer, the product and the environment? Is it easy (or fiddly) to open for a start? Using packaging that is over-bulky or difficult to recycle won’t earn you brownie points. Can they easily re-use it to return any items not needed – or worse still – damaged?

Ecommerce returns in the US in the 2018 holiday season came to £32 billion – up to 30% of that was due to damaged items. Making sure your protective packaging does what it needs to, protect its contents – and your customers’ much-awaited delivery – is imperative. Especially when we can reveal that returning customers spend up to 67% more than first-time customers. Damaged goods mean a damaged customer relationship

Packaging – the new customer interface

Many items such as clothing, books, home goods and electronic items require protection from moisture for example, so polythene wrapping would probably be on your packaging wish list. But you don’t need to lose sight of eco-friendly options here. There are polybags made from recycled materials as well as some paper packaging with splash resistant coatings. Other items might need void fill and again, you don’t have to turn to plastic bubble wrap for this, there are plenty of eco-friendly void fill options available. We’ll be looking at this in greater detail below.

Right now, businesses finding themselves under increasing financial pressure will no doubt be looking at all ways to reduce costs. And a simple thing such as optimising for postal sizes can deliver cost-saving benefits.

Thinking about your products and how to get them safely to your customers and looking good will be your priority. But you also want to make sure anything you send is cost-effective and optimised for the Royal Mail postal sizes. So let’s take a look at making the most of this new face-to-face with your customer.

Your guide to Royal Mail postal sizes categories

Royal Mail Letter

With the Royal Mail Group having delivered around 10 billion addressed letters during the twelve months ending March 2020, this is the volume end of the postal categories.

Maximum weight is 100g and size up to 24cm x 16.5cm x .5cm.

This includes popular DL and C5 envelopes, and also the first 3 sizes of light bubble bags and various CD/DVD mailers

 

Royal Mail Large Letter Boxes

Maximum weight is 750g, 35.3cm x 25cm x 2.5cm.

Paper padded envelopes

This includes envelope sizes up to C4 and B4 and similarly the first 5 sizes of padded bags. Again, you can still hang onto your green creds with paper padded envelopes that don’t have a plastic bubble but provide equal protection. Where the contents are heavier then stronger padded bags offer greater protection such as Gold Jiffy padded bags.

Customers will appreciate packages being of a size that can be readily posted through a standard letterbox where possible rather than run the risks associated with leaving goods outside the door.  There is scope to improve your delivery costs by ordering your own bespoke packaging to keep you within the appropriate size constraints. Single wall corrugated cartons of various styles can make for a light protective package.

The incentive to pack wisely within this category is that the next step up, whilst permitting almost 3 x the weight does so at 3 x the price!  Why not use some of the money saved from paying the next tariff up to custom print your packaging, reinforcing your company branding?

Royal Mail Small Parcel Boxes

Maximum is 2kg, 45cm x 35cm x 16cm.

Corrugated book wrap mailer

Generally, cartons and mailers, both padded and unpadded will be the popular choice here. There may be more need for simple protection and void-fillers unless you have a range of carton sizes or padded bags at hand. Consider nesting or telescopic cartons to accommodate fluctuating contents.

Worthy of special mention is the corrugated book wrap mailer.  Not exclusively for books, they come flat and makeup speedily using pre-creased folds, providing corner protection and rigidity in a lightweight package.

Royal Mail Medium Parcel Boxes

Maximum is 20kg, 61cm x 46cm x 46cm.

Soft furnishings and clothing generally travel well in self-seal polythene mailing bags. Not only are they lightweight, but there is a further bonus of being water-resistant. Used appropriately, paper sacks could replace polythene sacks. Another solution could be looking at the ‘multi-scored cartons’ so that the box height can be more easily adapted to suit the contents as well as reducing the need for void-fillers. This gives you so much more flexibility, especially if you have a range of different sized products.

Royal Mail Large Parcel Boxes

Maximum is 30kg, 150cm x a combined width and depth of 300cm.

Here the potentially greater weight will necessitate the use of cartons constructed from double-walled corrugated cardboard. If the products inside are heavy, sharp and could work their way out of a carton, then fitments made of corrugated, film or foam may be required to hold the goods in place.

Do check the Royal Mail website re-weight restrictions on Special Delivery items on postal sizes.

Internal Dimensions vs External Dimensions – A Crucial Consideration For Royal Mail Postage Boxes

When speaking to box manufacturers about eCommerce packaging that needs to fit within a specific Royal Mail size restriction, please be aware of the confusion that often occurs over the internal and external parcel dimensions.

Box manufacturers, almost without fail, will always quote you for the internal size of the box.  This is because the entire packaging manufacturing industry is heavily standardised, for example, they all prefer to use the EU standard FEFCO codes to describe standard box styles.

The end-users of e-commerce packaging, however, typically prefer to use external box dimensions – especially when trying to align with Royal Mail postal sizes which are all external dimensions.

So there you have it – the perfect setup for rejected batches of custom made packaging: the customer thought they were going to receive a box with maximum external dimensions of H x L x B, and the manufacturer thought they were making a box with minimum internal dimensions of H x L x B.

This is especially crucial if you’re trying to fit within the large letter size which has a mere 25mm thickness allowance, and when using thicker grades of corrugated card.  For example, in the corners where 3 layers of card may overlap at the seams, a cardboard thickness of just 2mm can create a 6mm difference on each side, so up to 1.2cm overall too large.

Then squeeze a bulky item inside the package that makes the card bend out slightly and you’re even more likely to find you’re over the size limits.

Manufacturers Box Size Tolerance

Another word of caution when ordering bespoke size boxes for e-commerce – manufacturers typically have a + or – tolerance of several millimetres, 5mm tolerance is not uncommon.

This means that going to the maximum size you think you can get away with within Royal Mail limits is risky for bespoke size packaging – especially if you are a larger user (Royal Mail tend to be more lenient on low-volume clients than high-volume users who may be penalised for just 1mm oversize).

Check the box size tolerance before you order.  Typically Die-cut boxes and boxes on thinner card such as E-Flute will have less size variation from one batch to the next than boxes that are CAD-cut or else made from thicker grades of card like B-Flute or EB-Flute for example.

Choose eco-friendly Royal Mail postage boxes

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

What does this have to do with postal sizes? Well, we all want to be seen to be ‘doing our bit’ for the environment. Your customers are very interested in your ‘greener’ packaging choices! We need to Royal Mail Postage Boxes practice the above principles whilst keeping close control on costs. By all means, weigh-up the pros and cons by following our suggestions below. Keep one eye on the Royal Mail dimensions, a cheap (free) box that unnecessarily puts you in the next postal sizes charging bracket will cost far more than buying your own bespoke size in the long run.

Ensure that your packaging is fit for the purpose. Common sense isn’t it? Well, yes. But rather than taking any old box or wrap, it is worth checking if the packaging could be lighter, tighter and thinner where you are sending numbers of unbreakable items. Could you use a smaller box and save wastage? Or even use a mailbag or book wrap instead of a small box  >2kg with a maximum size of 45cm x 35cm x 16cm.

Matching box sizes to popular order sizes will reduce the amount of filler required to prevent the contents from knocking around inside. When on the receiving end of goods in oversize cartons, the unboxing of copious amounts of void fill can be an irritation. So think about the likely reaction of others to your finished article, but also think of the environmental impact of the way you pack.

Packaging Machinery

Paper void fill

Rather than send polystyrene shapes that will end up blowing around the client’s floor and car park, you could use alternatives such as paper to fill voids and protect the goods in transit. There are several machines that will stand ‘in-line’ beside the work-station and deliver scrunched-up paper or pads on demand, usually from a compact roll and driven electrically.

For the smaller user, then rolls of corrugated paper can work well to protect and stabilize the Royal Mail postage boxes contents via block and brace. Corrugated rolls can be supplied in numerous standard widths and are made of nearly 100% recycled paper.

If padding is not required, then sacks are a good option. The choice then is to go for a paper sack, which is robust but not totally waterproof, or a plastic sack which is water-resistant without offering any stiffness or padding.

Paper Tape

Which brings us to the question of sealing tape. Whilst the market went overboard for plastic tape and away from gummed paper tape 50 years or so ago, the environmental argument against the majority of plastic tapes is pretty clear when it can interfere with the straightforward recycling of corrugated cardboard boxes and paper that still have plastic tape attached. So what to do? Maybe you are prepared to invest some time looking into the benefits of paper tape and dispensers.

Dispensers for gummed paper tape start around £40 for a basic and go into many £hundreds for the electric variety. These are quick to use and present you with precise, pre-set lengths of ready-to-apply paper tape at the touch of a button.

The alternative, which is becoming popular with both small and large users, is the self-adhesive paper tape in sizes and units that mimic plastic tapes and use similar adhesives. Paper tapes blend in discreetly on corrugated and paper packaging. A word of caution here: paper tapes have a lower burst tolerance than most plastic tapes, so a reinforced paper is needed for sealing heavier packages.

Various Die-Cut Postal Cartons 

Popular in but not limited to Small Parcel Category. Clever little cartons that are lightweight, some are self-locking so don’t require tape for sealing and assemble in seconds. A great choice for fragile items which look neat and stylish too.

Maximum is 2kg, 45cm x 35cm x 16cm

Keeping within the limits of the various Royal Mail postal boxes sizes classifications is made simple by using either standard or bespoke fold-up cartons. With a useful variety of styles available, choose whatever suits your operation. It’s not hard to use a green solution for your packaging. Just don’t be put off by the number of different options. Get to know your priorities and speak to a packaging expert who can guide you through to a great outcome.

Time spent experimenting may be repaid many times over through savings in postage costs. Learning how to optimise your packaging to fit postal sizes that looks great as well as protecting each delivery will certainly help you win over customer loyalty. It can be done!

Want to find out more? Just drop us a question here:

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FSC stands for ‘Forest Stewardship Council’. The ‘tick tree logo’ has become a familiar reassurance to users and consumers of paper and wood products worldwide. Use of the logo is strictly regulated to avoid misleading messages. This means when you see it on a product you can be sure that the world’s forests have not been harmed. Non-timber forest products such as latex, bamboo, etc, can also be certified. Currently 220 million hectares of forest are certified. That’s an increase of almost 45% since 2012. And there are over 44,000 Chain of Custody certificates, nearly double the 2012 number. All of this means great news for the environment as well as showing the growth of such a worthwhile initiative.

How does it work?

FSC Chain of Custody

FSC Chain of Custody

FSC publish 10 Rules for Responsible Forest Management as its core principles. These include ensuring compliance with applicable laws, avoiding or mitigating negative environmental impacts, and maintaining conservation values. Forests are inspected and certified against the stringent principles of Forest Stewardship. They are measured against a range of environmental, social and economical considerations. In addition the FSC system includes a certified chain of custody that tracks materials through the supply chain to the labelling of the finished product. One of the key aspects of FSC is its commitment to local consultation. This ensures the livelihoods and social welfare of local people is adequately protected and enhanced.

FSC labelling explained

There are 3 types of FSC label. These are traceable back to the holder of the certification which means they can be proved to be genuine. You will see the following variations:

FSC Labelling

FSC Labelling explained

Understand more about the FSC labelling criteria here

Consumers are increasingly environmentally aware and will be looking out for suppliers who can demonstrate that they are actively moving towards products and packaging which show the FSC label. Some even potentially boycotting (even if only passively) those that do not. It’s important for brands to realise the positive impact of these types of accreditations will have on their customers.

Is FSC the only certification?

There are other forest certification schemes, but FSC is regarded as having the strictest standards and the most rigorous chain of custody. This is why it is the only scheme endorsed by the major environmental charities. Probably the second most widely recognised is PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). There are also other less well-known schemes, for example CSA, SFI, MTSC. All of these are currently recognised in the UK as adequate assurance that the product is sustainably and legally sourced.

Do consumers recognise FSC?

A 2020 independent report by the organisation Two Sides, found that 64% of European (73% in UK) consumers are aware of FSC. Interestingly, consumers in the UK gave this label a rating of 3.4 out of 5 for importance. This really highlights that UK consumers are looking more closely at the brands they buy from.

Do FSC products cost more?

Cost does depend upon a number of factors, such as what demand there is and what the exact specification is. As a general rule, there is usually very little difference (if any) in price. That’s great news to be able to produce a product that’s environmentally sound as well as appealing to consumers.

What are Acopia doing about FSC?

We recognise and endorse the environmental and ethical concerns of our stakeholders. A number of our paper and card products are already from suppliers with FSC and other accreditations.  For new products we give priority to accredited sources. Where it is available as a choice we will always specify a certified product. Where a current supplier does not offer FSC or other accreditation, we actively seek to replace these sources and introduce accredited suppliers into our supply chain.

Other things we do include sourcing in the UK (or as near to home as possible) and promoting recyclable and compostable options.  By using our buying power, we’re able to make environmentally friendly options available to as many as possible. If you’re thinking of looking at this more closely for your own supply chain, please drop us a note and we can get the ball rolling for you.

If you have found this helpful, you might like to look at our other blogs, with information on packaging considerations: Paper or Plastic and What is Ecommerce?

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Taking time to think about the best protective packaging for your products is certainly worth the investment, but not overly exciting! Whether it’s for your own e-commerce operation or you’re fulfilling and despatching products for a customer – protective packaging can make a difference. It can improve on packing time, reduce breakages and returns as well as cost. Eco-friendly or more sustainable solutions may also be on your wish list. So out of the array of solutions on the market, have you considered Air Pillow film?

Perhaps you’ve been put off in the past because it looks like it might be a bit complicated or difficult to use. You might have thought it required specialist expensive machinery to get it up and running?  So let’s see how it stacks up against void-fill and protective packaging alternatives.

Firstly, how does Air Pillow film work?

Air Pillow film works with Air Pillow machines to create sealed air ‘pillows’ or ‘cushions’.  It comes as a roll of flat plastic perforated at specific intervals. This makes it easy to tear off exactly what you need.  One edge of the film is attached to the Air Pillow machine and air is blown into the film and the side sealed creating a tough bubble of air.  Essentially the bubble is 99% air and only 1% plastic!  You’re effectively packing with air!

You can even control the amount of air that inflates the bubbles according to how fragile your products are. You’re also in charge of how fast the machine runs.  If you have lots of parcels requiring similar levels of cushioning, you can set it up and run it quickly ‘go ready for packing’. Alternatively, if you want smaller amounts or the levels of cushioning are different or complex, slowing down the speed gives you greater flexibility and reduces waste.

How much do Air Pillow machines cost?

There are 3 machines available, of which two can be rented and one bought outright.  The Airtech Meteor machine (pictured) is the entry-level machine in the range and can be bought for around £900. Another bonus is that it comes with 2 free rolls of film.

The Air Pillow Meteor Machine

Bench top, post room and workstation friendly – the Airtech Meteor Air Pillow Machine

All other machines are available to rent, costing £35 per month per machine.  However, if you have a contract of 3 rolls or more of film per month there is no rental charge for the machine.

Servicing and spare parts are also free of charge if you’re renting. An engineer would be available to fix your machine should anything not be working correctly. That’s great peace of mind to know that should you have any issues, you won’t be left on your own. Spare and replacement parts can also be posted out to you.

How much does Air Pillow film cost?

There are 4 different types of Air Pillow film – recycled, bio, degradable and ESD (Electrostatic dissipating)

The cost of the rolls does depend on the quantity you require, the width (200-700 mm wide) and whether you want them printed with your branding.

As an average cost, a standard 200 mm wide roll of film with 120 mm perforation lengths would be £75-£95.

Degradable film would be quite a lot more expensive, with a minimum order quantity of 65 rolls at a time.  The film has a shelf life of 6 months so it’s definitely a solution for high packaging volume users!

Air Pillow film vs bubble wrap – costs, storage, plastic usage and other features

There are a couple of factors to think about when comparing air pillow to bubble wrap, which include:

Cost

Taking the standard 200 mm roll with 120 mm perforations as an example, 1 roll of this would equate to 18 bundles of 1500 mm bubble wrap.

Bubble wrap has a high cubit volume meaning couriers find it a challenge to deliver and this reflects in the cost.

On average one bundle of bubble wrap would cost £15-£25, so buying air pillow film would save on average £250 per roll when used as a void-fill.

Storage

Storing bubble wrap is similar to making up flat pack boxes and trying to store them that way; it takes up a lot of room but is easy to use when you need it.

The benefit of Air Pillow film is that the rolls are roughly 9” diameter and 200-400 mm depending on the width of the roll.  Compared to 18 rolls of 1500 mm high bubble wrap, the storage space air pillow film rolls take is hardly comparable!

Plastic usage

Depending on the environment qualities of your Air Pillow film or bubble, Air Pillow film is generally a better option to reduce your plastic usage.

Air Pillow films are mostly air (actually 99 %), so compared to bubble wrap there is a lot less plastic compared to air.  The pillows are also about 10x thicker than bubble wrap.

Other benefits include

Durability

As well as the plastic usage, air pillows are very tough and not easy to pop compared to bubble (who hasn’t enjoyed popping bubble wrap in their lifetime 😊).  This is due to the seal on the pillow, the thick construction of the plastic and pressure setting.

Reliability

Air Pillow film machines provide a consistent film quality produced to match your usage. It takes longer to use a roll and as it’s easier to store so you shouldn’t run out too quickly.

Diversity

There’s an air cushion type for every application, and it can also be used as a void fill. Bubble wrap isn’t really economical as void filling.

Professional

Air Pillow film looks professional and can be used with high-quality goods.  It can also be printed with your logo to make the un-boxing experience even better for customers and end users!

Air Pillow film vs Loosefill chips – costs, storage, benefits and more

As a void fill, Loosefill chips are very flexible and easy to use.

Are you currently using void fill as well as another option for protective wrapping like bubble wrap?  In case you didn’t know, Air pillow film can actually be used as both which in turn can simplify your processes.

So let’s look at the comparison between Air Pillow film and Loosefill

Costs

Taking the standard 200 mm roll with 120 mm perforations as an example, 1 roll of this does the job of roughly 12-14 bags of Loosefill

Couriers find Loosefill a challenge to deliver. This is because it has a high cubit volume and weighs very little. Delivery costs of Loosefill can vary vastly.  If we take an average cost of £12 for 13 bags of Loosefill it would cost £156. Using Air Pillow film would save you on average £70- per roll!  (And more if you’re currently using it as a protective packaging as well as Loosefill)

Storage

To be honest, Loosefill is a bit like bubble wrap. It’s a bit of a headache to store as each bag is 15 cubic feet.  You can pile them up, but this is not the sort of thing you can keep in any normal sized cupboard!

The benefit of Air Pillow film is that each roll is roughly 9” wide and 200-400mm (depending on the width of your rolls).  It’s possible to fit quite a few rolls of Air Pillow in the same area that you would store just 1 bag of Loosefill!

Plastic usage and environmental factors

The beauty about Air Pillow is that not only is it made from 50% recyclable plastic, it is also recyclable by the end user. These qualities really make it a protective packaging and void product of choice.

The Loosefill options stack up like this. Biofil is 100% biodegradable, conforming to EN-13432 standard. It is a natural product made from plant starch whereas Fastfil is made from 100% recycled product and is CFC free, however it will end up in landfill.

When it comes to reuse, both Air Pillow and Fastfil Loosefill can be used repeatedly. Although the Biofil is greener, we wouldn’t advise re-using Biofil as this tends to crush on repeated use with heavy items.

Flexible – when it comes to use, there are pros and cons for both. Loosefill is very simple to use and that’s why it is a popular choice. It packs quickly around products and is perfect for providing protection for irregular shapes and absorbing shock. It certainly fills narrow gaps better that than Air Pillow however, it doesn’t quite protect delicate and vulnerable corners like Air Pillow can.  Air Pillow can be used to create multiple layers of protection whilst being flexible enough to act a void fill as well as protective packaging.

So where does this leave us?

Time and money savings are important for every business. Devoting storage space for your own profitable products in your warehouse rather than vast volumes of void fill may be another reason to look at alternatives. It may also be the perfect time to move to some more sustainable packing solutions too.

And what you might have thought of as fiddly and expensive option may actually be the space, time and money saving solution you were after all along!

Want to try it out? Please get in touch below.

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In today’s time-poor commercial environment, it is vital to remove bottlenecks in the packaging process. Whether your goods arriving in the packing area are intended to be shipped swiftly or to be stored for later processes, few machines will do that work faster than an electric strapping machine. If you need to collate a number of packages into one, closing single boxes, or adding external protection – all in a timely and secure manner everyday – then read on!

What’s on the strapping machine market?

Have you had an initial look around, only to think the various different options are baffling? On the one hand, some machines are large enough to fill a small room. You’ll see other businesses benefiting most from using hand-held apparatus. Let us help you by categorising the main types of strapping machine. They all serve a purpose, so working out the best one for you requires some analysis of the numbers in your own operation.

Automatic strapping machines

Fully automatic strapping machine

Fully automatic strapping machine

Do you handle hundreds of small-to-medium packs say from the size of small, fat book up to a boxed domestic microwave? Adding a fully automatic strapping machine to the end of the line is likely to be hugely rewarding in terms of labour saved and efficiency. Output in excess of 35 straps per minute can be achieved, while high speed machines offer around 50 per minute. Warranty is for 12 months and reliability is good. Operators should not need to be involved with any more than the most basic maintenance.

Will the budget stretch to something around £4000? Spreading the cost may be an option. There’s finance up to 3 years available to successful applicants, along with possible tax relief on capital expenditure. You could save money by having a model with button or foot control instead of a magic eye to activate the sealing cycle. Strap widths range from 9 mm-15 mm.

Semi-automatic strapping machines

Semi automatic strapping machine

Semi automatic strapping machine

Choosing a semi-automatic machine is not necessarily a poor option at all. For those with a huge variation in package sizes (here the ceiling’s the limit, just so long are able to move the item safely and directly against the ‘stop’ of the machine’s loading position. This can be tricky if the item is an irregular shape). Feeding the strap out and back in will take longer – and the sealing cycle could also add a second or two, subject to the gauge of strap and settings. The shear versatility is what wins here.

Packages per day could be counted in tens rather than hundreds to be viable and one machine could conceivably be shared by a few of operators. They can be moved around too on 4 lockable castors to minimise the distances for packs to be transported. Moderately fragile items may be accommodated (such as boxed fresh flowers) thanks to adjustable tension control. Strap widths from 5 mm-15.5 mm. Depending on model, prices start around £700.

Hand held strapping machines

Why use a hand-held strapping machine? These are cordless and so can be carried to the product that needs to be packaged, saving loads of time, energy and machine handling. Employed vertically or horizontally they tension, heat-seal and cut at the squeeze of a trigger once you have fed both ends of the plastic strap into the machine. Expect up to 400 straps per charge of a new battery, subject to variables such as the prevailing temperature. Components may wear and need replacing and regular servicing is advisable.

They are favourites in timber yards for example, where long lengths of cut timber can be bundled speedily, ensuring orders are collated and made rigid. Any number of bulky items may be handled just as well. These are best not lost in the yard though. Expect to pay something around £2000 per unit.

Manual strapping machines

Let’s go back to basics with a manual machine. This is where it all began, with sealing achieved using metal clips that have to be crimped onto the strapping where both ends meet after tightly encompassing the package. The popular combination tool will tension, crimp the seal and sever the unused strap in one multi tool, but this operation is many times slower than the electrical options above so best only for a handful of uses per day. These are best used on a horizontal surface such as the top of a carton or low, flat pallet. Where this is not possible, then the use of a separate tensioner and crimper-cutter is recommended. Expect to pay around £70+ for either kit, depending on quality.

Our own experience

In our own stores environment back in the early ‘90’s, we procrastinated for a while, but once we bought our own semi-automatic machine, we never looked back! Now we are two machines down the line. We found that delivery drivers much preferred taking our packages if they had 2 straps across the trunk and one across the length. They could carry a bundle in each hand by using the long strap as a handle. This speeded up loading and unloading times, as well as keeping orders for each site more accessible in transit and greatly reduced the number of instances where items became lost or forgotten. Quite a win-win!

Strapping materials

The most popular strapping material by metres consumed is polypropylene, being both tough and economical. It is suitable for light to medium weight packages and pallets. Generally, the thicker the band, the greater the breaking strain. Although quoted figures may sound high, starting around 130 KG for 12 mm strap, you must bear in mind the forces in a drop or collision will multiply the weight of the package by a factor of several times according to the terminal speed.

There are colours available in most sizes and where greater security and branding is required, then colour printing is available. Fact: Parcels and pallets secured with plain, un-printed packaging are more susceptible to pilferage. Bespoke printed strapping will not be opened it seems and resealed in transit!

Plastic or paper strapping?

For scenarios where greater tensional strength is required then polyester is superior to polypropylene banding. It has substantially higher retained tension and flexibility. Polyester has often been introduced in the packing of heavy items where in the past steel strap would have been the only option. (Environmental impact: packaging need not be single-use if we close the loop….!)

Polypropylene (PP) is a plastic that can be recycled for use in other items such as plant pots. Polyester (PET) strapping is available with recycled content. It can be effectively recycled for further use as strapping without the need to ever go to landfill. Paper strap is a recent addition for those seeking an environmental presentation. Suitable for both auto and semi-auto machinery, it can also be recycled.

At a glance

Strapping machines comparison

So what’s the right one for me?

In summing up, be assured that considerable amounts of time can be saved by using the above machines. When the (ever-rising) cost of labour is factored in, then the outlay is quite readily justifiable, subject to proper analysis. There is a right ‘horse for the course’ for you out there.

It is crucial to know your figures. For example, number of of packages to be processed per day/hour/minute, number of straps per parcel, usual weight per pack, size range of popular packs (to ensure you specify the correct arch dimensions for the automatic strapping machine). With sufficient space to circulate (or the adoption of conveyor belts) the flow rate can be little short of amazing.

We recommend you discuss your own challenge with a packaging professional, ideally on-site, before pressing the green button. The best use of resources will likely include a designated pathway from A to B, ensuring the minimum amount of labour to achieve the maximum throughput.

And remember, success brings success! Your happy customers will come back to you, so the chances are you’ll soon be exceeding your projected figures!

Want to know more? Ask your questions here:

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We are all being asked to do more with less and taking time to review existing operations and processes is the perfect place to start. It maybe just the opportunity to apply new thinking or seek advice in simplifying and streamlining work flow and logistics in the warehouse, gaining greater control and enhanced efficiencies. So if maximising productivity, remaining competitive and creating an agile, responsive packaging operation is important to you for 2019, then being able to automate your packaging process may be the key to not only lowering costs but also a way to introduce safer and leaner working conditions.

Lean Green Clean

Increasing productivity as well as reducing costs are most certainly your key drivers but your end users and customers will also be interested in your process from an environmental aspect. Automating your process still supports you in making those necessary environmental changes in terms of the materials you use for your protective packaging. We supply a number of options for void filling which are all either recyclable by the end user or made from sustainable sources. We also supply machinery that allows you to create your own void filling from card. Whether you require automation for box erection at the start of the process or with strapping and securing prior to despatch, we have an automated solution for you.

Create Protect Secure – Automate

At Acopia – we supply machinery for every step of the process and all equipment is equally at home in a manual packaging setting or integrated as part of a fully automated process. We can identify where to make the optimal changes to your process to yield the greatest results. Experts in packaging and procedure for over 40 years, we work with many clients on process improvement and delivering greater returns on investment. Each setting is unique and the amount of automation needed is different. We don’t adopt a one size fits all approach – we analyse every aspect and suggest change where we know it will make a real difference.

If you would like to know more, please get in touch. Let us know about your current challenges, bottlenecks and headaches and we can help you to achieve effortless automation for your packing line.

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    It’s not often a product comes along that completely transforms a way of working that has been common place for years. A way of working that has been cumbersome, onerous and inefficient with associated risks involved. The strength of this new product is in its simplicity, new GripFilm has totally revolutionised the pallet despatch process in terms of time, efficiency and process. We take a closer look at the amazing business benefits this ingenuous little product has to offer!

    Take control with GripFilm

    Person holding GripFilm with one fingerGrip film is action at the base of a pallet

    There many reasons to consider the GripFilm system. This is a great product to hold and use and it quickly becomes apparent just how many benefits this delivers. Straight away, the film application process is faster and safer. The user can walk forwards around the pallet making it secure very quickly. It completely avoids the user putting themselves in danger walking backwards around the pallet as with traditional applicators. This is so important in a busy warehouse where Health and Safety is of paramount importance. It also eliminates the user from bending over in an effort to stablise the very bottom of the load, the applicator does this effortlessly.

    Not only is the applicator lightweight resulting on much faster wrapping, the longer pre-stretched film means fewer roll changes.  Gaining a significant reduction in down time means more pallets prepared for despatch faster!

    Reducing single use plastic

    If you are a company that is concerned with reducing its single use plastics dependency, then this delivers a great alternative to traditional pallet wrap film. A high performance film at just 6-9 microns will out perform traditional film at much higher microns. The result? Less film usage!  Our own testing showed up to an 80% reduction in use which is great news for environmental concerns – and your pocket! With less film required, this also helps with a reduced carbon footprint and the associated distribution costs.

    Fast, Safe and Efficient

    We know that this product is perfect for your busy warehouse. If you would like one of our team to show you how this would work for your operation, we would be delighted to show you a quick no obligation demonstration. You can see for yourself the amazing cost savings and efficiencies that are to be made.

    Just complete the form below, telling us a little bit about your current set-up, and we will be glad to come and see you.

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      Choosing the perfect packaging for your product is as important as your product and your product design itself. Packaging that is both consumer friendly, cost effective and has the protection capabilities you require can be difficult to source.

      Our quick tips can help you focus on how to determine what’s right for you!

      Set Your Budget

      Before you even start your selection process, you need to think about how much you are planning to spend on protecting your product. Once you have defined a cost, this will determine what options are open to you in terms of materials, the quality of the packaging and if there is money to spend on printing or making the most of bespoke opportunities.

      Think About Your Product

      You will also need to consider your product. Would it be vulnerable in minimal protective packaging? Is it fragile and easy to crush? If the answer is yes – you will need to think about a more robust material to keep it safe in transit. If your product is food produce, for example, you will need to think about the best packaging methods and materials that will keep your food fresh and prevent contamination.

      How Are You Transporting Your Product?

      How your is being stored and transported is another area for consideration. Is it going by post, courier or air freight for example? Will it need to be stored in a freezer or temperature controlled conditions? Is your chosen packaging be robust enough to withstand this duress. You may need to invest in testing your packaging in these environments to ensure it can still perform.

      Does the packaging reflect your brand?

      Finally, does your packaging reflect your product as well as your brand? If your company core value is in support of the environment, you will need to make sure your packaging is recyclable – customers and end users would expect to see this. Your brand values should not just be empty words, it’s the foundation of your company and product line.

      Maybe what you require is not an off the shelf product and you need some help in  innovative packaging design and functionality. You can see some useful hints and tips to start the process of bespoke packaging here. 

      Talk to your provider about all the options available to you to ensure your packaging not only makes an impact, it keeps to your core values too.