Stretch Hooding Pallets

Stretch Hooding Pallets

Introduced in the late 1980s, the stretch-hooding method of pallet packaging provides benefits with respect to operating costs, speed, reliability, sustainability, and distribution chain performance.

The hood is formed from gusseted tubing, and the height of the pallet load is measured automatically as the pallet enters the machine—ensuring that only the amount of film required for the application is precisely dispensed. Among other operating benefits, energy consumption is low since the film is not heated, and available servo drive technology further reduces energy and maintenance costs.

The quality of today’s domestically available, co-extruded stretch-hood films allows for pre-stretch percentages exceeding 80 percent, providing better film yields than what was possible even a few years ago. This performance, combined with film thickness reduction down to 1.6 mils, means that the per-pallet film cost with stretch-hooding is competitive with that of spiral stretch-wrapping. Some stretch-hood equipment can also be programmed to allow for application-specific selection of a non-sealed sleeve (for lowest possible film consumption), a closed hood (for optimal load protection and stability), or even an open hood (to avoid moisture condensation for food packaging). Consistently maintaining its tension, stretch-hood film is particularly well-suited to products that, due to their physical properties, tend to settle after being bagged and palletized.

The high quality of today's films means that a single film hood format can, within certain limitations, be used to stretch-hood multiple pallet sizes. However, it is important to analyze the net financial benefit of a one-size-fits-all approach, as the total film cost will be lower if each pallet size has a dedicated film hood format.

Stretch-hooding provides ready evidence of tampering, as it is not possible to remove a product from the pallet without tearing the film. The smooth film surface also provides for easier loading and unloading of trailers. With spiral stretch-wrapping, the friction between the films on two pallet loads can cause tears and film tails to come undone, compromising the integrity of the pallet load.

For products sold at retail outlets, such as home centers, the clear, one-layer, stretch-hood film provides better product recognition at point-of-sale than multi-layer spiral stretch-wrap film does. It is also possible to print advertising or handling instructions on the stretch-hood film. A side benefit is that stretch-hood film allows for easy bar-code scanning, virtually eliminating misreads and associated remedial costs.

Addressing current trends in sustainability, recent advancements in stretch-hood technology have reduced film usage per-pallet-load, while simultaneously offering more intuitive user interfaces, reduced energy consumption, smaller machine footprints, and throughputs exceeding 150 pallet loads per hour. Modular designs also allow for faster and less costly installation. In addition, the use of intuitive graphic user interface screens helps with ease of operation and troubleshooting.

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