The Need For Stretch Film Optimization

Packaging plays a vital role in today’s fast-paced business landscape, ensuring product protection, preservation, and presentation. As the packaging industry continues to grow and adapt to changing market demands, it’s crucial for companies to stay ahead and offer exceptional packaging solutions. To provide insights into this dynamic landscape, we have developed Packaging Talks – a series of conversational panels with Crawford’s packaging experts. Whether you’re a business owner, a packaging professional, or simply curious, our panels aim to offer valuable information and inspiration. 

In this installment, we chat with Yvonne Butler, Crawford’s Sales Manager Strategic Clients, about stretch film and the need to optimize its usage.


Yvonne, can you explain what stretch film is and its purpose in packaging?

Absolutely! Stretch wrap is a thin, stretchable plastic film.

Its purpose in packaging is to lock and secure goods onto a pallet for transporting and warehousing.

By applying tension while wrapping the film around the pallet, it can extend its length by up to 300%. This tension creates a constrictive force that holds the load in place.


Thank you, and what are the different types of stretch film available, and how are they used in packaging operations?

The easiest way to differentiate the stretch wrap is to look at the application method. We differentiate between hand stretch film and machine stretch film. Hand Stretch Film is designed to be applied manually and is commonly used in low-volume packaging operations. Machine Stretch Film in turn, is designed to be applied using a stretch wrap machine and is typically used in high-volume packaging operations like 20 or more skids per day.


And what are some advantages of using stretch films?

If the correct film is dialed in, there are many benefits.

Reduced damage is one.  10% of all shipments arrive damaged.  Stretch film works like a tight hug for palletized goods, keeping them securely in place during transportation. It minimizes the risk of shifting and damage that can occur due to bumps or jostling during shipping. Another advantage is the protection it provides against the elements. Stretch film acts as a shield, keeping dirt, dust, and moisture away from your goods. This is especially important when shipping products that are sensitive to environmental factors.

When it comes to sustainability, there are two things that support environmental efforts right now.  The first is that manufacturers have made significant inroads in developing wrap that has recyclable features.  And the second is that the technology used in newer high-performance films, when dialed in correctly, do not require as much film to be applied to secure loads.

Reduced film means reduces costs and reduced waste going to landfill.

Stretch film is also known for its cost-effectiveness. Compared to other packaging methods like strapping, stretch film can be a more budget-friendly option. It offers a balance between performance and affordability, making it a popular choice for many businesses.

Oh, and one of the great things about stretch wrap is its versatility. Its stretchy characteristics allow it to conform to various shapes and sizes, making it suitable for wrapping oddly shaped or hard-to-stack loads. It provides flexibility in packaging and can accommodate a wide range of goods.


This makes a lot of sense! Now, how can you optimize the use of your stretch film?

This is probably the most important question asked!

First, you need to have your packaging specialist perform film testing on your equipment.  Most stretch wrappers have been in the market for many years and don’t perform at the factory level.

The film testing will help you choose the right gauge of thickness required of the stretch film for your specific load and cut out unnecessary waste.  When testing your stretch film, some of the factors considered are load weight, load shape, load fragility, warehousing environment, etc.

When applying the film, find the sweet spot for tension. You don’t want to under-stretch and end up with loose loads or overstretch and risk film breakage. Maintain consistent tension throughout the wrapping process, whether you’re using a machine or doing it manually.

It is also important that you establish standardized procedures for wrapping, including guidelines for tension, film path, overlap, and load positioning. Consistent practices across operators will help optimize stretch film usage and in the long run, enhance your business performance.   Our packaging specialist is able to demonstrate all of this to you.

You should also pay extra attention to the initial bottom wraps of the load. They serve as the foundation for stability, so make sure they are wrapped tightly and securely. Overlap the film between wraps to provide better load containment. Also, ensure that the film covers the entire load surface, including corners and edges, for comprehensive protection and stability.


When it comes to applying stretch film, what types of equipment are typically used, and what are their advantages?

Good question! Depending on factors such as how many skids are wrapped per day, warehouse space available for the wrapper, load type, budget, etc., we offer many machine options. 

And there are multiple advantages to machine wrapping, such as consistent load containment, reduced waste, reduced labour, reduced damage, and reduced consumption, all resulting in reduced costs.

We have Turntable Stretch Wrappers that use a motorized rotating platform to turn pallets in place. They are suitable for low to medium-sized packaging operations, typically wrapping 20-40 loads per hour.

Then we have Rotary Arm Stretch Wrappers which use a mechanical arm that rotates around the load. They are useful for wrapping very heavy or light loads that may cause instability. They can be automatic or semi-automatic and are well-suited for operations wrapping 40 loads per hour. 

Finally, we have Orbital Horizontal Ring Stretch Wrappers. They use a vertical rotating ring to wrap.  These machines excel at wrapping long and wide loads such as lumber, doors, windows, piping, and textiles.


This is all great information. Anything else you’d like to add?

If you have not had your film dialed in, book an appointment now as every day that you wait is costing money.  Plant managers and operations personnel should schedule regular preventative maintenance on the stretch wrapper to ensure performance is maintained and wrap standards are still being met.  Review and analyze stretch film usage to identify opportunities for improvement, such as reducing film thickness without compromising load stability or exploring alternative wrapping methods. By following these simple yet practical tips, companies can enhance load stability, reduce film waste, improve packaging efficiency, and achieve true cost-effectiveness in their operations.

To learn more about stretch film optimization with Crawford Packaging, please visit: