The Product and Pallet Damage You Can't See

Posted by Kelly Wathen


When was the last time you saw a cockroach crawling out from under your baseboard or fridge? Last month? Last year? It’s more likely you saw an image of one (or several) in a scary movie. We don’t usually see them. They’re invisible, hiding behind baseboards or under the fridge, waiting for us to go to sleep so they can come out. As much as we hate to admit it, they’re always around.

Now think about shipping damage. It doesn’t happen often but every time you ship a pallet load the risk of damage is always there.

invisible-pallet-damage.pngThe Visible Damage

We bet you know of a catastrophic event where the customer has refused a truckload. Maybe a retailer opened a truck door and found a pool of shattered glass bottles or pallets of smashed produce. This is visible damage. It’s the single cockroach that scurries in front of your foot. This is damage that you hear about and that you can prevent from happening again.

Often it is this type of damage that prompts companies to reevaluate their stretch wrapping strategy. Sometimes it leads to new wrap standards being set, or a new machine being purchased.

When big, expensive damage happens there tends to be a big, visible change aimed at preventing more big, expensive damage in the future.

But there’s also damage that’s invisible, like the cockroaches hiding behind your walls.

The Insidious Nature of “Small” Damage

While the news of major damage gets around, you may not hear about less visible damage. It comes in the form of a crushed corner of a cereal box or a dented can of vegetables. When’s the last time you reached for a box of cereal and saw the corner smashed in? I bet you thought twice about buying it. Maybe you even chose a competitive brand.

When less-than-perfect products make their way to the store shelves brand loyalty is compromised. Sometimes these damaged products must also be sold at discounted prices, which reduces profits.

This type of damage isn’t splashy and it doesn’t often result in the types of changes a big disaster can inspire. However, that doesn’t mean that the damage isn’t happening and having an effect.

Like we mentioned above, one of the costs of this type of damage is to your reputation. This is one of the hardest types of cost to measure, but the ripples from it can be felt. Of course, a single damaged box of cereal isn’t going to tank a brands reputation. However, a history and pattern of damage over time can.

And products being sold at a discounted price? Again, once isn’t going to significantly impact profits but when it becomes a regular occurrence it can have a measureable effect.

How to Address the Damages, Big and Small

Cockroaches have always been around, and they probably always will be. The same doesn’t have to be true for shipping and pallet damage, because we have the tools to do something about it. You can stretch wrap your products effectively to reduce the risk of your products being damaged during shipment.

Our best advice for dealing with these types of small damages is to go back to fundamentals.

Focus on setting wrap standards and wrapping to those standards every time.

1. Determine the required amount of containment force and ensure it is present everywhere on the load.

2. Secure the load to the pallet to create a load-to-pallet bond.

3. Make sure there are no loose or trailing film tails.

4. Watch “What’s the best way to stretch wrap your pallet load?” our recent webinar.

These are all actionable steps you can take to help prevent and minimize all types of damage, big and small. (Sorry, we can’t help with the cockroaches.)

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This post was published on April 4, 2017 and updated on July 29, 2017.

Topics: Product Damage