From the consumer perspective, stretch film is a lot like a cockroach: It’s everywhere, and it survives all attempts to kill it. Nobody likes having to use half of the tools in their garage just to open a package. For the industrial supply chain, however, stretch film is the jack-of-all-trades among packaging supplies, increasing efficiency, reducing damage and pilferage, and, in general, just making life in a warehouse a whole lot easier (and a bit more fun, too, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In that sense, it’s a lot like duct tape: Just when you think you’ve maxed out all possible uses, you discover another one. Here are just a few:
Once upon a time you could only get stretch film in clear and opaque, but now it comes in multiple colors, making it an ideal tool for quick identification. You can use it to categorize items by type, by where they belong in the warehouse, by pick order, by supplier or customer, etc.
2. Eliminating Temptation
Unfortunately, employee theft is a fact of life in the industrial supply chain. Even honest employees can be tempted in certain situations, like when your warehouse receives a pallet of the newest iPhone – and there’s a 30-day wait to buy one. By using every day packaging supplies, like opaque stretch film, you can keep your honest employees honest by concealing highly desirable items from easy view without spending a ton of extra money.
3. Transporting Trees and Plants
Most people would think that a tree or plant wrapped in stretch film would be dead long before it reached its destination. But not with vented stretch film! Vented stretch film lets plants breathe while protecting the plant as well as containing wayward dirt, leaves, and hitchhiking insects.
4. Keeping Things Clean
Storing and transporting mulch is (quite literally) dirty work. The stuff gets everywhere, and the pallets end up looking like Pig-Pen from Peanuts, leaving behind a cloud of dirt every time you move them. And then there are dusty products like drywall and insulation. A layer of stretch film can keep all of that dust and dirt where it belongs.
5. Maximizing Space
With a roll of stretch film and a few boards, you can build pallets in layers, stacking them higher to take advantage of additional vertical space which is critical in an industrial supply chain such as a warehouse. You can also use stretch film to stabilize loads of irregularly shaped items so they don’t have to be stored or shipped separately.
6. Reducing Injuries
Every year, falling objects injure thousands of employees. In 2014, 240 workers died after being struck by falling objects. Wrapping elevated items in heavy-gauge stretch film can keep objects contained, thereby reducing injuries and warehouse hazards. (Just make sure you’re in compliance with OSHA regulations.)
7. Blocking Off Construction Areas
there’s construction going on in your warehouse, the dust and noise make it known throughout the facility. You can use stretch film to make a temporary “wall” that, while not structurally sound, can help contain some of the unpleasant side effects of warehouse improvement projects.
8. Stabilizing Bulky Bundles
Not all products lend themselves to being palletized, but every product does need to be securely bundled. Stretch film comes in handy for bundling things like pipes, timber, and even rolls of wire mesh. If you need to keep a number of long, loose items together, stretch film is the way to go.
9. Having a Little Fun
You know what they say about all work and no play, right? With a little creativity, stretch film can provide some good, clean fun. Check out these directions for using stretch film to make your own band instruments. Or, if a co-worker is getting married, instead of decorating their car, how about stretch wrapping their work station? Or at least essential items like phones and computers.
Who knew packaging supplies could be so versatile? Have you found your own creative uses for stretch film? Tell us about them in the comments below!
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.