The World of Industrial Packaging Explained

In a world without industrial packaging, goods are simply loaded onto a pallet, tied up by rope (or some other equally inadequate material) that can keep them vaguely together, and loaded onto a truck to be transported across state lines.

The constant movement would slam the goods against each other. Precipitation could damage and soak products — becoming damaged and unusable when delivered to retail stores, distribution centers, or customers’ doors.

Industrial packaging solves this problem.

There are other types of packaging, as well, such as consumer packaging. Consumer packaging is designed to protect individual products or cases of products. Branded boxes on store shelves containing a product are a form of consumer packaging. After the box is opened, there may be a sealed container within the package. All of those items are considered primary and secondary consumer packaging.

What is industrial packaging?

Packaging is a must for any industry. It’s not feasible to take a product on its own, ship it to customers and expect it to not run into issues along the way.

Industrial packaging is typically separate from consumer packaging, but they sometimes overlap. Industrial packaging is often used in the manufacturing and distribution processes. Moving raw materials or goods not fully processed from one facility to another often uses some form of industrial packaging for storage and transportation. This can come in many forms, from large boxes and sheeting to bags to stretch wrap.

When industrial packaging mingles with consumer packaging, it is often from a distribution or manufacturing facility to a retail location. Products are secured with industrial packaging until they reach the store and then are opened and unpackaged for store shelves. In this situation, pallets wrapped with a stretch wrap are often unwrapped, and master-packed boxes of goods are opened and unloaded for individual products to be placed on the shelf. In this scenario, the stretch wrap around the pallet and the master pack corrugated boxes are a form of industrial packaging used to unitize and protect the products within the master pack.

How does industrial packaging differ from other types of packaging?

Let’s use an example to compare consumer packaging with industrial packaging. Say you’re a beverage company that makes cola, seltzer, wine, or anything else in liquid form. How do you prepare that type of product, so it looks appealing to your customers? By putting it in a can, bottle, or container with an attractive, eye-catching design that entices people to buy it. It’s protective packaging but has other goals besides protecting the product. Eye appeal and freshness, with tamper-evident materials to attract customers; that’s consumer packaging.

Industrial packaging is how you get your product from here to there. Using industrial packaging equipment to securely wrap and package goods to make them suitable for shipping, you can ensure they stay in one piece during transportation. Industrial packaging is meant to be practical and protective — it rarely requires flashy colors or swaggy designs. Though industrial materials can be branded, many companies choose not to unless the packaging comes into potential customers’ eyesight.

What materials are used for industrial packaging?

Industrial packaging materials are many and varied. Two types are shrink wrap and stretch wrap. For some, these may sound like the same thing — but the two wraps have unique qualities and are used for different purposes. There are several other containers and materials used for industrial packaging. Below are a few to consider.

Heat Shrink wrap can be used as consumer packaging or industrial packaging. Thinner heat shrink wrap covers individual consumer boxes for added protection. Small bands can also be used around bottle caps for tamper-evident consumer packaging. In an industrial setting, thick heat shrink wrap covers and protects large or unitized objects. For this, a polyethylene shrink film, often over a 3 mil thickness, is used.

Stretch wrap is often confused with shrink wrap because it is used to wrap goods and is generally made of LLDPE plastic, but its makeup and purposes are very different. Stretch wrap is pulled around products and stretched tight to hold boxes and other goods in place. The purpose of this material is to protect goods from becoming damaged during transport and storage. Using a stretch wrap machine can make wrapping loads more efficient and uniform.

Strapping is used to help secure individual boxes with heavy objects or full pallet loads of products. To help secure individual products, polypropylene strapping is used. For higher-volume packaging, a strapping machine is used to apply the material.

A metal or polyester strapping is used to help secure and stabilize loads for large and heavy pallets. Metal strapping is applied with a tensioner and a crimper to secure each end together. Polyester strapping is a cheaper option touting comparable load retention. Tensioners and crimpers can be used with polyester strapping, but hand-held welding tools are often preferred for higher volumes. The handheld tool tightens the strapping around the load and welds open ends together.

Boxing is used for both consumer and industrial packaging. Lighter paperboard packaging is popular with consumer packaging applications. These are often smaller printed boxes for store shelves branded for eye appeal. Boxing for industrial packaging is almost always corrugated and, in many cases, a double or triple-wall corrugated container. The corrugation helps to add strength to the box and helps when transporting or storing heavy loads.

Crating, most commonly made from wood, is used for packaging large and heavy items. Machinery for industrial use is often crated in wood for storage and transportation. The rigid wood helps to protect from forklifts, pallet jacks, and other potentially harmful occurrences.

Drums/Bulk Bins are large storage and transportation containers for liquids and other objects. Drums are often made from metal or plastic, while bulk bins will be made from a triple-walled corrugated material. Both drums and bulk bins are commonly used for packaging and storing raw materials.

There is a wide range of other industrial packaging materials, too. Any materials that secure and protect products before reaching the customer can be considered industrial packaging.

Industrial packaging is the silent protector you can use for your products

Industrial packaging is the humble, drab packaging used behind the scenes. It’s how we get a product — or quantities of products — from point A to point B without damage. If shipping directly to a customer from a manufacturing or distribution facility, consumer and industrial packaging can be used together.

Industrial packaging is a science, a highly technical and involved process that uses special machinery when enough volume is reached. If identifying the correct type sounds complicated, don’t worry — we simplify the process for you. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do to help you with your industrial packaging needs.

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