Which Stretch Wrap is Right for my Business?
To understand what makes the perfect pallet wrap or stretch wrap today, it’s worth knowing a bit about the evolution of this material that has become commonplace in every warehouse around the world. Invented over 100 years ago and made from PVC, it saw huge global demand in the ’50s. By the 1970s a wrap was being produced with a 50% stretch, which was a notable scientific achievement for the time. However, the success of the science behind the product was quickly overshadowed. It didn’t work. It wasn’t robust, durable or tear-resistant enough to cope with the rigours of transporting goods – all those features we take for granted with today’s modern stretch wrap.
A new solution had to be found. It came in the form of low-density polyethene. Yes, it was more durable, but this time the drawback this time was it’s “stretchability” – it could only achieve a modest 30% stretch. Another modification later and LLDPE film was born (Linear low-density polythene) and this found its way onto the US market in 1976.
Putting the Stretch into Stretch Wrap
By the late eighties and early nineties, stretch wrap had become the go-to protective packaging component for reliable and durable transportation of goods. Stretch wrap made transporting larger pallets possible and which meant more economical deliveries. So the race was on to develop a wrap that could stretch even further, to deliver even greater economies but with the same reliable performance.
The stretch wrap at this time was made from a single layer of film or a ‘mono’ layer. So this became the starting point in the next phase of its evolution – experimentation with additional layers of film.
As more layers were added, each layer had it’s own unique ‘signature’ in terms of the role it performed. For example, one layer was developed to achieve a greater stretch, another for stability and another for cling – combined these layers were the first example of the stretch wrap used today. It doubled the stretch achieved by the 1970’s version at 100% and this was the start of further experimentation that saw even more layers being added, just like a recipe, with each layer having its own function.
Fast Forward to Today’s High-Performance Stretch Wrap and Pallet Wrap
As you can imagine, this process has been perfected even further and until recently, the most exciting development in stretch wrap was a product called Nano Film which has been available for about 5 years. This is made up from a 4 layer film structure. In an effort to increase the number of layers, the film is split again and re-joined. And this splitting and re-joining process is continued many times but the major drawback is it still only contains the properties of the 4 original film layers, so it is by nature – restrictive.
Science has come to the rescue again with a next-generation high-performance stretch wrap called iWrap. This Intelligent Pallet Wrap has been developed with 11 layers of film – all of which are produced directly from the extrusion head. This means there is no need to split and re-join the film layers as in the Nano film example.
With iWrap, each layer has its own individual property and function. It truly is a best in class product where you can program in stretch, cling, and tear resistance properties at the point of manufacture according to your specific needs and requirements. Pretty remarkable stuff!
What else can iWrap Pallet Wrap do?
So what does all this technical advancement mean for you as a user? Well, this 11 layered film can save you money, can speed up your palletising and even reduce costs for your customers. Not bad for a roll of humble pallet wrap! So how’s it done?
1. Saving you Money
On average, you can expect to see a 25% saving in the costs in wrapping your pallets. Even though iWrap has 11 layers, they are incredibly thin so you use less film to wrap each pallet. With up to 300% stretch achievable (remember that early 50% stretch example?) you need much less film to wrap each pallet as well as being able to keep it completely stable.
2. Elimination of Damaged Goods Delivered
No one likes to receive broken and or damaged consignments – it hurts on every level doesn’t it? It’s such a waste of money firstly in terms of damage to the items themselves. Then there is the recovery cost to get it all back to your warehouse and the time taken to process the return and to send out a replica pallet of new goods, with the hope that this time it will reach it’s destination unscathed.
Then there is the cost of a damaged reputation from your customer’s perspective who then have to wait for replacement goods. iWrap has been tested to provide unparalleled load stability and puncture resistance to get your goods to their destination safely.
3. Reducing Costs for Your Customers
Everyone likes to save money – so wouldn’t it be great to be able to say to all of your customers that you can save them money? And that’s without reducing your margins or charging your customers more! With the new plastic packaging tax arriving with us in April next year – all packaging with less than 30% recycled content will be subject to a levy, a green tax if you like. This is to encourage the reuse of materials and reduce the amount of virgin plastic produced.
Whilst stretch wrap is not available currently with recycled content due to those technical film properties we discussed, being able to use less of it is an advantage. As mentioned before iWrap is extremely thin, even with those 11 layers – and yet is only 12 microns thick. In comparison, standard stretch films are around 23 microns thick.
So what is the advantage here? This levy not only applies to you, it also affects your customers too and if you’re using less film to wrap your pallets – your customers benefit from a reduced amount of plastic packaging at their end. They win again from this high-performance film with reliable, undamaged deliveries, as well as paying less tax on the waste plastic stretch wrap. In fact, iWrap can deliver on average – a 40% reduction in plastic consumption. That’s news any one of your customers will happy to hear!
What’s the Future for Stretch Wrap?
The use and disposal of plastic will continue to be a concern and we should all be looking for ways to reduce the amount we use. iWrap offers the thinnest film available without compromising on stability. With a new version with 500% stretch a possibility in the near future, iWrap will continue to develop to meet the needs of modern businesses. This is great news for every user and end-user throughout the supply chain.
If you want to see iWrap in action in your own warehouse, we often run like for like tests with your own set up so you can see for yourself the physical reduction in plastic used to wrap your typical pallets. Put us to the test, we love the challenge! Companies such as IKEA and Waitrose are already benefitting from cost and plastic reduction using iWrap.
Get in touch using the form below and we’ll run a comparison and measure the savings for you!