By Del Williams, technical writer based in Torrance, California.
For manufacturers and packagers looking to bundle products in quantifiable units or as multi-packs for storage, transport or shelf display, using traditional methods that fully envelop a product such as shrink-wrap, poly-bags, or boxes might be overkill.
In such cases, over-packaging can unnecessarily add to the costs of the materials, energy, and labor to apply it, not to mention the cost of its removal and disposal.
Fortunately, film and paper banding is an alternative packaging method that can often accomplish the same task at less cost while reducing waste and preventing potential product damage.
"When a product does not actually require complete containment, traditional packaging like shrink-wrap and poly-bagging can waste resources better used elsewhere," says Magdi Bichay, Pacific Packaging General Manager of Specialty Sales and Marketing.
Film and paper banding involves wrapping products in specific quantities, such as how greeting card manufacturers wrap a stack of new cards. Not to be confused with metal and plastic pallet strapping, film and paper banding can be applied in various materials, thickness and widths to combine unit counts of just about any product.
Reduce costly material waste, energy use
The use of shrink-wrap, poly-bagging, corrugate, cardboard or chipboard boxes can be wasteful when products do not need to be contained but only bundled, secured, or managed for size and quantity.
While not always a top of mind concern, wasting energy in the packaging process should also be considered. Shrink-wrapping a poly film around a group of products requires more energy than necessary because creating a poly pouch around the products with an L-sealer and running the product through a heat shrink tunnel Is often a requirement.
"Securing a paper or poly band around a group or multi-pack of products takes far less material and energy than complete containment methods like shrink-wrapping," says Bichay. "The cost savings multiply if thicker films, such as 100 or 135 gauge, have been over specified out of habit rather than current need."
Eliminate product packaging damage
The shrink-wrap process itself can damage cartons or other product packaging by bending, pulling or twisting panels during heat application.
The deformation of cartons or packages damages product quality, particularly if displayed in a retail setting. It can also complicate the vertical stacking of products and compromise product stacking stability, which can lead to further product damage if stacked product falls.
As a solution, the use of film and paper banding around multi-packs can eliminate shrink- wrap related damage to product packaging, so carton panels stay straight and packaging remains undeformed. It also improves stacked product stability during transport, storage, and display.
Reduce labor, improve safety
When corrugate, cardboard or chipboard boxes are used to group and secure products, it is common for an employee to open them with box cutters, then dispose of the waste material. However, this can require added labor as well as pose a safety hazard or lead to repetitive motion injuries if too many boxes need to be unloaded at the same time.
Even shrink-wrap is relatively difficult to open, often requiring a sharp object to pierce the film before it can be torn off and placed in the trash. Whether using torn shrink wrap or used boxes, disposing of bulky materials can clutter work areas and compromise safety, as well as harm the environment if buried in a landfill.
Instead, when items are grouped as a unit with banding, particularly in specified quantities, it is much faster, easier, and safer to open and use.
"You can simply tear off paper bands, or separate film bands at their seal, which eases product access, dispensing, and use," says Bichay. "This makes labor and production more efficient."
Trick of the Trade
While rolls of film and paper banding might initially be thought of as simple commodity products, provided by any packaging supply house this is not actually the case.
Available in a variety of roll sizes in clear or colored poly, or brown and white paper, these consumables have traditionally been supplied mostly by overseas banding machine
manufacturers that have held a virtual monopoly of banding supplies, with higher prices as a result.
To work properly in banding machines, the film or paper banding has to be cut and converted to certain dimensions. Yet while many domestic packaging supply distributors offer conventional packaging materials, few have the converting capabilities to provide films or paper slit to the proper widths and lengths required for popular banding machines.
Because of this, it takes a rare combination of paper/film distributor and converter to provide such material. The qualified supplier must understand the specifications of the consumables used by overseas brands as well as dimensional requirements and other details.
With a less known trick of the trade, however, manufacturers and packagers can save significantly on the cost of banding by taking advantage of domestic sources capable of converting banding for popular banding machines.
As a U.S. film and paper banding manufacturer, distributor and converter, for instance, Pacific Packaging offers a variety of banding materials slit to required dimensions to work on automatic and self-standing banding equipment such as ATS, Felins, Wexler, US 2000, MS 420S, Blumer USA, Band ALL, Duplo, Bosch and Adolph Moher Auto Banders. Unlike overseas suppliers which can take weeks of lead-time to restock banding supplies including production and shipping, such a domestic source can ship standard stock the same day and special stock requirements within a few days.
In addition to this, a domestic supplier offers other advantages. Stable pricing can be achieved with contracted blanket orders and dated deliveries for up to one year. This eliminates the high prices of foreign material and ensures meeting budget forecasts.
Since the availability of suitable domestic, third-party suppliers is not well known in the industry, Pacific Packaging supplies free banding samples for evaluation on customers' banding equipment and in many cases will visit customers in person for on-site testing and evaluation.