What is volumetric weight and how does this affect your logistics packaging costs?

This easy to read guide will help you understand what volumetric weight is, and the effect this has on businesses. If your business operates on volumetric weight (otherwise known as dimensional weight or DIM) it can help to reduce your transport and logistics costs. Reducing transportation costs is one of the key challenges for most companies, whether you’re a small-scale ecommerce packaging boutique with a small parcel cost to a large distribution company shipping boxes with heavy duty goods.Volumetric weight used by delivery companies

So, what is volumetric weight?

Volumetric weight is a method to calculate the chargeable weight of a package, using volume rather than gross weight. It takes into account the total space used by the package in the delivery vehicle and not just the weight of the package.

Essentially, the method of calculating the dimensional weight is more commercial for delivery companies.

If packages were only measured by weight, the cost to ship less dense, lightweight packages would be low, and the cost to ship dense, heavy items would be high. However, there is no relation between its size and density.

Dimensional weight is otherwise known as the DIM factor

Pricing based on dimensional weight balances out the shipping cost issues of large bulky packages that are lightweight. It is unprofitable to ship when the cubic space taken up is higher in relation to the weight. It allows carriers to also represent the density, by using the dimensional weight (DIM factor) which could vary between 5000 – 7000. The DIM factor is divided by the length, width and height of the package to calculate the unique weight, shape and size.

This method is also applied to heavy but small packages. However the carrier will instead charge per kilogram, whichever is greater; the gross weight or the volumetric weight of the package.

The volumetric weight of a package is calculated by the following formula:

L x W x H  / (DIM factor)

DIM factor = 5000 (in cms) or 305 (in inches)

Say you want to send a lightweight package with the dimensions of 50 x 30 x 30cm, which weighs only 3kg, using the common DIM factor of 5000 (for centimetres or DIM factor 305 for inches). The volumetric weight is 9 kg, and so it will be charged on this basis.

And conversely, if you send a heavy package with the dimensions of 30 x 30 x 20cm which weighs 10kg, divide by common DIM factor 5000. The volumetric weight is 5.4kg, which is lower that the gross weight, so this package will be charged on the gross weight.

Volumtretic weight formula

How can volumetric weight measure costs?

Volumetric weight is a measurement of cost for the delivery company. The mileage the delivery vehicle covers is a cost factor, travelling nationally and internationally, but the size of the vehicle which determines its weight allowance will affect how many parcels it can hold. The more parcels the delivery vehicle can carry, the more economical it is for the carrier, as the cost per journey is reduced.

In principal, the method to calculate the shipping and delivery cost is:

  • If your package is light and big, it will be charged on its volumetric weight.
  • If your package is heavy and small, it will be charged on its gross weight.

So, when packing, it is important to consider both the weight and size of your package to reduce the cost of transporting goods.

Dimensional weight used by delivery companies

Which industries are affected by volumetric weight?

Technically, volumetric weight will apply to all industries. The pricing technique is based on the package needing to transport, and the space it takes up in the freight carrier whether it is transported by a ship, lorry, or plane.

Also if your business provides a free shipping and returns service – keep in mind the same pricing method would be applied. So, if the returns their order you could be making a loss.

For further advice on reducing transportation costs, contact our Packaging Specialists on 0800 542 44 28 or sales@rajapack.co.uk to discuss your product range and your packing operation.


Top tips! 3 tips to optimising the volumetric weight of your packages. Read more>>


 

3 tips to optimising your volumetric weight

When budgeting for your transport and logistics costs, do you calculate your delivery costs using volumetric weight?

Many factors influence transportation costs, such as fluctuating petrol and diesel prices, and the transportation mileage. Budgeting to the volumetric weight of packages can help businesses control logistical costs. But frst, you need understand the fundamentals of this pricing method and apply the optimisation techniques.

Before we move on to the cost saving tips, if you are not familiar with volumetric weight, we recommend that you read: “What is volumetric weight and how does this affect your logistics packaging costs?”. So that you can fully understand how to optimise your delivery costs.


Find out what volumetric weight is and how this affects your logistics packaging costs. Read more>>


Tip 1. Reducing packaging dimensions

Tip 2. Plan for the delivery times you need

Tip 3. Choose the right delivery company

Tip 1. Reducing packaging dimensions

Reducing your packaging dimensions reduces your shipping costs. This all starts with knowing your products, inside and out; review your range by measuring the size and weight. Then, applying the product measurements, carry out an audit of your existing packaging to measure its suitability. To reduce your packaging dimensions, your audit should consider what the protection qualities are, and how they house your products.

The right sized packaging reduces excess space and void fill used. Reducing the volumetric weight also reduces shipping costs, whilst increasing the protection levels with the appropriate packaged being used.

Having effective packaging materials suited to your product range and knowing how to pack your products for shipping are both key. Discuss your process with a Packaging Specialist to find out if you’ve got the right packaging materials and that they are applied in the most efficient way. You can also further optimise by choosing bespoke packaging, personalised packaging fit for purpose.

Once you have identified the most efficient packaging for your products, you can make further savings by buying in bulk. Wholesale prices will make further cost savings.


Contact a Packaging Specialist on 0800 542 44 28 or sales@rajapack.co.uk for free advice


Once your packages are ready for shipment, cross-analyse the dispatch frequency with the products sent. This will help to categorise your shipments by weight, and which band tariffs are most invoiced for. Co-ordinate your consignments in a pricing table to identify which products have the higher shipment frequencies. This can provide further cost-savings when scheduling the deliveries. Once you have a complete list, you can then enquire the rates and frequencies with your delivery provider.

Reduce your volumetric weight so less space is used in the delivery vehicle

Tip 2. Plan for the delivery times you need

The delivery times can determine the mode of transport; by road, air or sea. For express deliveries needing to get to its destination quicker, these packages are given priority, so the postage costs are generally higher.

If you offer a free delivery service to your customers, have you researched if an express delivery service is needed. Or can your customers wait an extra day or two for delivery?

For next day and quick deliveries, such as a just-in-time approach, it does depend on the industry and market in which your business operates. Although, we as consumers in this technological age, do expect things ‘now’. Services such as Deliveroo for the fast food industry, and Same-Day delivery service with Amazon, are perfect for customer that can’t wait. However, if given the choice or if your business set-up allows, a non-express delivery service could be better. Your operation would need to adjust for the longer lead times. The cost of delivery is considerably less for the longer delivery dates, and whether your company provides a free delivery service or not. This could not only save your business money when dispatching orders, but as a customer, placing an order too. So, if you provide a free delivery service, make sure to incorporate volumetric weight costs into the total order value.

So, for an optimal shipping method, adapt your business structure if possible to incorporate volumetric weight into your transportation costs; whether you’re a supplier or a customer.

Plan for the delivery times you need

Tip 3. Choose the right delivery company

Unfortunately not all carriers apply the same pricing method and there is no standardised regulation for delivery companies to do so. The method to determine its volumetric weight will be dependent on the business strategy of the delivery company, which will be optimised to its business model. (Although, many companies will operate on the DIM factor of 5000).

When enquiring about the delivery rates be sure to ask for the method of calculating the delivery costs. Secondly, ask for a tariff grid so you can see the pricing structures. This will help you easily compare the different services provided.

Compare the volumetric weight costs of UK delivery companies:

  • Calculate shipping costs with DHL
  • Calculate shipping costs DPD
  • Calculate shipping costs with Hermes
  • Calculate shipping costs with Parcel Force

For more information on developing your packing and packaging process, speak to our Packaging Specialist 0800 542 44 28 or sales@rajaapck.co.uk for help and advice.

Brown paper bags guide: How are paper bags made

Imagine a technology that could totally revolutionise packaging and the delivery of goods. That could protect and enclose and which could also feature branding and other information? Well, paper bags did just that when they emerged in the mid-late 1800s in the US.Paper bags

But how are paper bags made, what are paper bags made from and what can paper bags be used for? In our guide, we take a look at the ingenuity and simplicity behind these useful everyday packing staples. And show you how they can be used for everything from storing your bits and bobs, to giving gifts the wow factor.

Who invented the paper bag?

While the inventor of the paper bag is lost to obscurity, the invention of the bag’s square bottomed design is widely accredited to one Luther Childs Crowell of Wellfleet in Massachusetts.

Luther Childs Crowell, inventor of the grocery bag

Luther Childs Crowell, inventor of the grocery bag (right) and one of the most famous people to come from Cape Cod (Image: The Real Cape)

When was the paper bag invented? While Crowell’s flat-bottomed bag appeared in the 1870s, one Francis Wolle, a US schoolteacher, invented the first machine to mass-produce these bags as early as the 1850s. Wolle and his brother patented the machine and founded the Union Paper Bag Company, which leads us nicely to how paper bags are made.

How are paper bags manufactured?

Paper bags are manufactured from paper pulp, which is pressed into flat sheets or rolls of paper. These rolls of paper are cut to size, that means twice the required height of the finished bag. These cut sheets are then folded over and the two parallel open sides glued together. This can either be by pressing the glues sides together or heating and pressing.

This makes a simple flat bag made from paper.

Flat white paper bags with gusset

To make a more complex flat-bottom design, a similar process is followed. Only, there are more complex folds at the bottom of the bag so that the finished bag is square or oblong with an open top.Brown paper bags

For bags with handles, separate paper handles are then fixed using adhesive glue.

Plain brown paper carrier bags with folded handles

What are paper bags made out of

What are paper bags made of would, on the face of it, seem to be a silly question: paper. But there are many designs and styles, all made from different kinds of paper depending on what the bag is going to be used for.

Standard brown bags are made from Kraft paper, but it can be made from all kinds of paper and in any colour.Coloured paper bags

Kraft bags can also be made from laminated paper. This has a plastic coating on the inside to protect the bag from moisture from the goods contained in it or to keep moisture out.

Bags made from Kraft paper can also be designed in any colour and any weight of Kraft paper. These are typically made from 60gsm paper and come in a huge range of sizes.

More sturdy Kraft paper gift bags are made from 90gsm paper and can be coloured, or brown – or retro polka dot style.

As with all things paper, it can also be made from recycled paper and recycled Kraft paper. This offers a good, sturdy and environmentally friendly way to package goods, gifts and more. Typically, these are made from strong 110gsm recycled Kraft paper.

A paper bag for any occasion

Why use paper bags?

Paper bags can be used for so many things. Bags made from paper are a cheap, easy and are a sustainable way to store and deliver all manner of things – so long as they aren’t wet, or really heavy.

How to measure a paper bag is simple: measure its height, width and depth (gusset) – multiply these together and you will get its volume.

How much can a paper bag hold depends on its size. These handy bags come in all sorts of sizes from small ones measuring 200x300x100mm right up to ones as big as sacks measuring 450x800x290mm.

Heavy duty, large capacity brown paper bags

How much weight can a paper bag hold depends again on its size and on the strength of the paper used. Small bags made of 70gsm Kraft paper have a breaking strain of 4kg, while the largest paper sacks made of 90gsm paper can take ten times that, having a breaking strain of 40kg.

In between lie the myriad sizes of bags available, each able to take a weight of 40kg or less. To see the full range of available sizes and their relative strengths, take a look at this chart.

For additional advice on paper packaging, our Packaging Experts are here to help you find the right solutions and arrange next day delivery. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

Can we profit from our printed items?

It can be tricky to predict which products will be profitable in years to come, but there is one thing that can give us a clue: the answer lies in the past. With vintage clothes, vinyl, old video games and the like resurfacing as collectible rarities today, it’s plain to see that what goes down in popularity tends to go up in value… But can we predict what will come next?Print to profit

With the ongoing transition towards a digital world, we wanted to know how profitable our printed items could be in the future. We spoke to BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow’s expert Wayne Colquhoun about cashing in on the collectibles that can be found in our houses today, and what they could be worth tomorrow (or in 50 years’ time, to be precise). Will the books that line our shelves become our biggest asset, or could the film posters that covered our walls as teens be the taker of the crown?

Wayne’s print predictions:
Top 10 most profitable items in 50 years’ time

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy books: Complete trilogy collection, first edition, first printing, original dust jacket, signed by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Harry Potter books Complete box set collection, first printing, signed by J.K. Rowling
  3. Bank of England Polymer notes, first printing
  4. Becoming by Michelle Obama First edition, first printing, signed by Michelle Obama
  5. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour book Signed by Paul McCartney
  6. Coachella 2018 memorabilia Official merchandise
  7. New Avengers comic books #11, featuring the first appearance of Ronin
  8. A Game of Thrones First edition, first printing, signed by George R.R. Martin
  9. Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spiderman comic books Signed by Stan Lee
  10. Paper Magazine – Winter 2014 Kim Kardashian West’s ‘Break the Internet’ cover

According to Wayne, cashing in on collectibles is only set to soar in popularity, and particularly when it comes to print in the digital age: “It will continue to rise – you can feel it, you can see it and you can count it.”

As for the fact that 50% of the list is notably books? This should be no surprise: “I think books will be with us forever and remain a sturdy and strong investment. In the case of the best of the best and the rarest of the rare, they will be the best way to see your money grow in the most pleasurable of ways.”

The above list is only a chunk of what you could be cashing in on, but why is it these items in particular? And what could they be worth?

Read our full guide to profiting from your print and cashing in on collectibles, where Wayne offers up his full predictions, including what items could be worth, and why we can expect them to appreciate in value.

And if you own none of the items from the above list? Wayne goes on to offer a full breakdown of what else is worth blowing the dust off, protecting with paper packaging, and saving for that special moment – as well as giving you his insights on becoming the best collector for cash that there is.

Can you recycle plastic bags?

There is a growing interest in sustainability and ‘green-ness’ among businesses and consumers today and many ask can plastic bags be recycled? For instance, are plastic bags recyclable across the board, can plastic bags with paper labels be recycled and what plastic bags can be recycled are issues that more people are wrestling with today than ever before.Plastics and plastic bags need recycling, the good news is that they can even be made into recycling binsPlastics and plastic bags need recycling, the good news is that they can even be made into recycling bins (Image: Wikipedia)

From plastic carrier bags – of which the average UK household has 40 stashed away, forming just part of the 8.5 billion produced every year – to grip-seal bags, self-sealing bags, sandwich bags, bin bags and specialist covers for (covering) pallets and other industrial goods, the plastic bag is so useful we just keep on making them.Bags for bears, bags and shirts:  plastic bags can be used for almost anything – and often more than just once

But, increasingly recycling and reuse is becoming an important consumer consideration – so what can we do to recycle and reuse plastic bags?

Here we outline how plastic bags are made, what they are made of, how they can be reused and, if not reused, how to actually recycle them back into raw materials.

How are plastic bags made?

Before looking at how to recycle and reuse plastic bags, we first need to ponder how are plastic bags produced? What are plastic bags made of varies depending on how they are going to be used, but the majority of those used in packaging are made from various grades of polythene.

Plastic bags are made from oil.  In fact, six per cent of all oil is used to make plastics and plastic bags constitute some 40% of the use of those plastics. Oil is processed to create long chain molecules of polyethylene using heat and pressure that arrive as pellets of plastic.

Different combinations of heat and pressure produce different densities of plastic, with carrier bags being made typically of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and plastic film and thinner bags being made from Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE).What are polyethylene pellets?

Polyethylene pellets: the starting point for plastic bags and what they can be recycled back into (Image: Goodfreephotos.com)These pellets are then heated again and extruded to make film – of differing thickness depending on the use – which are then cut to size and the seams sealed up, again using heat, to form a bag.Plastic bags are made from polyethylene filmPlastic bags are made from polyethylene film (Image: Plastic Bag Manufacturing Process/YouTube)

How can plastic bags be reused?

Plastic bags are, relative to their weight, very strong and tend not to weather and degrade all that quickly, so they are ideal for repeat use.

So how can plastic bags be recycled? The obvious way is to reuse them as a bag. Plastic carrier bags can be used repeatedly to carry groceries or anything else after their first use. Other kinds of plastic bags can be used to hold all sorts of items for storage or to keep them clean, fresh and protected.

Aside from reusing plastic bags as bags, they have all manner of other secondary uses. They are ideal for covering outdoor plants in winter to protect them from frost. They can also be used, scrunched up, as padding in packages that you are sending through the post.

Used bags can also be used to protect paint brushes when not in use, line pain trays, litter trays and even birdcages.

Clothes designed with carrier bags

You can even make clothes out of used carrier bags (Image: Salford University/Flickr)

When they are getting to the end of the (re)useful life, they can be used as small bin liners – although throwing them away, then, with the rubbish inside them brings their reuse to an end. It is at this point that that how to recycle the plastic becomes more imperative.

Why is it important to recycle plastic bags?

Plastic bags means they are very useful, but also must be reused or recycled

The indestructible nature of plastic bags means they are very useful, but also must be reused or recycled rather than thrown away (Image: Wikipedia)Plastic bags are so useful that they have of course been produced in massive numbers and, while there are clear ways to reuse them, it is also important that rather than throw them away when they have finished their useful life/lives that they are recycled.

Plastic bags are very strong – which is why they are useful – but they take a long time to biodegrade if thrown away. Conversely, LDPE and HDPE materials can readily be recycled. Taking them to a recycling centre will see them washed, shredded, melted and reformed into plastic pellets to be reformed into new plastic items, most likely more bags, as well as plastic rubbish bins among other things.

So how can plastic bags be recycled? The easiest way is to reuse them, but, when the time comes to throw them away, they need to be recycled. Can you put plastic bags in recycle bin? If they are made of LDPE or HDPE, then they can be readily recycled through standard, council recycling schemes, so yes, pop them in your normal recycling bin.

Recycle your plastic bags

Look out for on plastic bags showing that they can be recycled (Image: RecycleNow)

It is easy to see which bags can be recycled as they have the above symbols printed on them – usually on or near the bottom – and these can be taken to the recycling centre or supermarket collection points. To find the nearest one take a look at this handy bag recycling centre locator.

Plastic recycling symbols

More detailed plastic recycling information can also be found on bags

More detailed labels can also be found on bags – and other plastic items – outlining more precisely what they are made of and how they should be disposed of/recycled. These outline the material(s) used in the making of the bag and what they can be used for. It can also be correlated with recycling information on bins at recycling centres.

Recycling centre for plastics being recycled

Recycling centre for plastics being recycled (Image: thinkinghumanity.com)

Are plastic mailing bags recyclable?

So can you recycle plastic mailing bags? With many bag types being used to mail goods – there is a growing need for plastic bags in the ecommerce age but how recyclable are the bags on offer? The answer is straightforward: so long as they are made from LDPE or HDPE and, if labelled, label with paper packaging labels so the mailing bags can be recycled.

Plastic mailing bags with write on labels are a single material and so can be readily recycled (Image: Rajapack).

Some mailing bags contain padding – such as bubble bags – to protect more delicate items when in the mail or in transit and these too can be recycled, so long as the padding and the bag are made from polythene.

Recycled bubble bags with adhesive strip

For other goods, particularly sensitive electronics, some mailing bags feature integrated metallised shielding. These bags are made of LDPE, but have a layer of metallised polyester in them too, to shield what’s within from static.

Antistatic, metallised shielding bags

The rise of ecommerce and the sale of more electronic devices is driving up the need for this sort of composite packaging, both for the supply of electronic parts to manufacturers and delivery of finished goods to consumers.

In theory these can be recycled as both materials – polythene and metallised polyester – can be recycled. In practice, however the two layers are almost impossible to separate and each will contaminate the other when recycled.

Conclusions

Plastic bags may be all over the news as a potential environmental hazard, however, they are endlessly reusable for all sorts of secondary purposes around the home and business – from storing parts to being reused for packaging and padding for sending things through the mail.. With increasing use of plastic bags for mailing goods – driven by ecommerce – there is an inevitable rise in their use, but so long as you stick to using bags made from polyethylene, then not only can these bags be reused but they can also be recycled and turned into new bags and many other things.

Want to know more about plastic bags for storage and mailing?

For additional advice on plastic bags and all your plastic bag needs, our Packaging Experts are here to help you find the right solutions and arrange next day delivery. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

 

RAJA interviews René Pierre: the female inspired football table creator to celebrate women in sport

It’s not just Bill Gates who started a business venture from his home. René Pierre, a French football and billiards table manufacturer began his entrepreneurial journey from his garage.

Women in sport, football table with female figurines

Along with the RAJA Foundation and the Women and Environment Action Programme, RAJA is committed to supporting the achievements and independence of women. So, to celebrate FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 and women in sport, RAJAPACK UK has launched RAJACUP, a sports campaign that also offers our customer the chance to win a René Pierre football table.RAJACUP the Rajapack campaign to celebrate women in sport and FIFA Women's World Cup

This isn’t just any football table, it is crafted in France, and is designed by the manufacturer René Pierre. Sébastien Menneveaux, Key Account Manager at René Pierre takes us on a journey of Mr Pierre’s legacy.

Can you briefly introduce the company?

For nearly 70 years, René Pierre has been manufacturing football and billiard tables. It all started in 1952, when Mr Pierre built his very first football table, and now, René Pierre has retail stores throughout the world and employ approximately 50 people.

1953, the orginal René Pierre factory

 

Each year, more than 8,000 football tables and 2,500 billiard tables are shipped from the factory.

How did the René Pierre brand begin?

Mr Pierre was the son of a carpenter, and so naturally some of his father’s experience and knowledge influenced him and he became a woodcraftsman. He designed and built the first René Pierre football table from his own garage. After a busy year handcrafting and selling his football tables, in 1953, he built a small factory in Jura, France, to cope with the growing demand. This would be the home of the brand for a number of successful years.

In the 70s, a new and larger René Pierre factory was built

In the 1970s, a new and bigger factory of 8000 m² was built in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, which is where the factory still manufacturers the René Pierre football and billiard tables. The factory is currently under the watchful eye of Claude Pierre, current CEO and son of René Pierre.

Tell us about the first editions of the René Pierre football tables

The first productions of the football tables have become collector items, many customers contact us to restore their 1970s football tables, some tables have been purchased from an antique dealer or some have been passed on from generation to generation.

There is also a huge fashion trend of owning vintage and antique items, and we see a lot of our old posters that people have kept safe over the years as a memento – it’s retro and they can still be used as posters today.

Original René Pierre football table posters

Has the manufacturing process of a football table changed since 1952?

Yes and no. Even though we have invested in machines for cutting the wood, most of the football table production remains an intricate hand crafted skill.

Inside the René Pierre football table manufacturer

What type of customers order your football tables?

Today, almost all of our tables are purchased by individuals and communities such as schools, community centres and leisure centres.

We have experienced a recent phenomenon with start-up companies ordering our football tables for their break-out, games rooms or company waiting rooms.

What opportunities have sports events brought you?

Sporting events influence our business, it can inspire our designs and enable us to show our innovation and dynamism.

Do you design tables for particular sports events?

For every major football competition, we launch a limited edition range or special design models.

We also receive personal requests to custom make football tables to a particular design.

Let’s talk about FIFA Women’s World Cup, what made you decide to make a football table for this competition?

René Pierre football table inspired by FIFA Women's World Cup - Elles

As we tend to manufacturer football tables based on major football competitions this World Cup is no different, and especially as it is hosted in France, our home country. It represents women in sport around the world and promotes gender equality.

It was exciting to launch a football table called “Elles”.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I will quote from our company vision statement: to continue to provide our customers with enjoyable memories, while maintaining the qualities of a French manufacturer and the family values within the company!

Women in sport, football table designed with female figurines

To find out more of the company’s history, please visit René Pierre.

How does shrink wrap work?

Shrink wrap is one of the quickest and easiest ways to package and protect goods. What shrink wrap is used for typically is wrapping especially awkwardly shaped items – from individual packages to boxes on a pallet. It can even be used to wrap up helicopters. It is weather proof and dust proof, while the transparent option easily allows the goods underneath to be identified.Shrink wrap is so versatile it is even used to wrap up US Navy helicopters for transport (Image: Wikipedia)Shrink wrap is so versatile it is even used to wrap up US Navy helicopters for transport (Image: Wikipedia)

But what is shrink wrap made of, how does shrink wrap work and is shrink wrap recyclable? Here we answer these questions and find out how to use it on a practical level in the warehouse, using the right shrink wrap and shrink wrapping equipment to get the job done.

How does shrink wrap work?

Shrink wrap and what shrink wrap is used for covers everything from simple packaging, to holding items together, to protecting them.Shrink wrap collates and protects

How shrink wrap works is something that requires a look at the very molecules that the shrink wrap is made from. To make the plastic film that is used to shrink and wrap items, plastic polymer molecules  – long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms, essentially  – that usually all tangle round each other are heated and stretched so that they all form into straight rows. Once cooled they maintain this aligned structure.

Heating the film again, once wrapped around the goods being packaged, the molecules move about (thanks to all that lovely heat energy being pumped in) and they get all tangled again: making the film as much as 50% smaller.

The shrinking can take place in one direction (uni or monodirectional) or in both length and width (bidirectional) and requires the film to be applied over the goods using a special frame – called a tenter frame – and applying heat correctly. To do it correctly requires the right shrink wrap equipment.

What is shrink wrap?

Shrink wrap is a plastic film that can be stretched over awkwardly shaped items and heated to shrink to tightly fit its contours and crevices as if stuck to it – all without any kind of adhesive.

Shrink wrap pallet covers, film and rolls

This protective packaging comes in sheets and on rolls

So, when was shrink wrap invented? The process of heating and stretching polythene sheets and cooling them and then reversing the process was first trialled in the US as a potential packaging process in the 1960s. It was then refined and had its first commercial use in 1981 in the US.

As to who invented shrink wrap, its provenance is murky. It is claimed that the process was actually invented in the 1960’s at WR Grace and company, by Robert D. Lowry, John Dreyfuss and John W. Harrison of Winchester Massachusetts in the US. The process was then refined and rolled out for industrial use by Global Wrap LLC in the US in 1981.

What is shrink wrap made of?

The molecular structure of Polyethylene, Image: Wikipedia

The molecular structure of Polyethylene (Image: Wikipedia)

Shrink wrap is made of plastic. What type of plastic is shrink wrap made from depends on how it is to be used, but typically it is made from plastic polymer – usually low density polythene or, sometimes, PVC. It can also be made from biaxially orientated polypropylene, a more complex version of polythene. What they all have in common is that they are made of long chain molecules that, in their natural state, tangle round each other like spaghetti.

The molecular structure of Syndiotactic polypropene (Image: Wikipedia)

The molecular structure of Syndiotactic polypropene (Image: Wikipedia)

How to use shrink wrap

Shrink wrap can be used to cover all sorts of things. To use shrink wrap, you need the right plastic shrink wrap film and the right equipment: usually at the very least a heat gun. You may also need a frame to hold the film.

Perforated shrink wrap pallet covers available on a roll

When shrink wrapping pallets of goods, individual shrink wrap pallet covers are available if you want to cover standard sized pallets of goods – available as sheets and on rolls. For more awkward shapes, this protective packaging comes in rolls and sheets, which can then be wrapped or put over the goods and then heated, often with a hand-held heat gun.

How to heat shrink wrap

So, how does heat shrink wrap work? As we have seen, heating pre-stretched polymer sheets allows the ordered molecules to move about and re-order themselves as a tangle of molecules, occupying a much smaller volume and causing the sheet to shrink.

In practice, this means that putting, say, a shrink wrap pallet cover over a pallet, and heating it the cover will start to contract and pull tight over the goods.

How to use heat shrink wrap involves the following steps:

  • place goods on the pallet and loosely cover with a shrink wrap pallet cover
  • make sure it covers everything
  • gently heat with a heat gun evenly, moving round and round the pallet to ensure even shrinkage
  • when tight, stop and allow to cool.

Heat guns are relatively light and portable but must be handled with care

How to use a heat gun for shrink wrap is perhaps the hardest part of the process. It needs a specialist gun, which burns propane or butane to create a hot flame.

RIPACK 3000 heat shrink film gun kit

However, it is crucial that the flame doesn’t contact the film nor the goods being wrapped. For this reason, the flame heats a plate at the business end of the heat gun which radiates heat onto the plastic.

Carefully heat the shrink wrap from a distance to avoid damaging the film

How to recycle shrink wrap

With more attention than ever on the impact of plastic on the environment, many ask can shrink wrap be recycled? So is shrink wrap recyclable: in short it is. Being made of low density polyethylene – or polythene – means that the answer to is plastic shrink wrap recyclable is yes. Polythene is widely recycled and can be put into the recycling waste and reused.

To recycle it, simply keep it once you have removed it and either put it in the standard recycling or, if you find you have a lot of it, there are companies that will come and collect it and take it away to recycle. They will shred it and melt it down to make polythene beads which may very well end up being used to make new shrink wrap.

Want to know more about shrink wrap and shrink wrapping equipment?

For all your packaging advice, our Packaging Experts are here to help you find the right solutions. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

Game of Boxes

Game of boxes

Do you agree with who’s on the Iron Throne? Well, the Game of Thrones finale might not be how you wanted it to end, but the wheel is now broken welcoming a new age in Westeros.

We have to confess, some of us at Rajapack were also hooked on the exciting plot created by George RR Martin, and writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. We have not thought of a better way to honour it than to relive the most iconic elements with a line of packaging products that has inspired us.

Here’s your special GoT edition using our packaging range. What will be the first product you will buy for your business, your shop or your online store?

Postal tubes for Valyrian steel swordsPostal tubes for Valyrian steel swords

The Rajapack cardboard postal tubes are so strong that they can hold even the most fearsome steel swords, the only ones with which it is possible to kill the White Walkers.

These postal tubes are perfect for GoT swords such as Garra, by Jon Nieve; Guardajuramentos and Lamento de Viuda, departures from the foundry of the mythical Ice of Eddard Stark; or Poison of Heart, property of Tarly House. Even though it is not a valyrio steel weapon, we have remembered the lethal needle of Arya Stark.

Labels of hazardous materials for wild fireLabels of hazardous materials for wild fire

Wild fire is a highly flammable substance that must be handled with great care. Even though at Rajapack we do not condone ‘blowing things up’, in GoT they could do with some packaging and shipping labels, particularly hazard labels, to correctly label packages that contain it (or that contain other dangerous substances).

Book boxes for the treasures within the Citadel libraryBook boxes for the treasures within the Citadel library

In the Citadel library, all the knowledge stored by humanity over the centuries is kept safe. Each book is a real gem, and must be handled with great care so that their treasured history can live on.

Each book must be worshipped and preserved, at Rajapack we have book boxes designed for such GoT items, available in different sizes for the varied editions and volumes, complete with a magical feature; an adhesive strip that seals the box to close.

Paper and pens to ‘manage’ Arya Stark’s listPaper and pens to 'manage' Arya Stark's list

Although Arya Stark has a very good memory, we suspect that it would not hurt to have quality office supplies to write down and cross out names on her list. For this reason, the Rajapack range includes pens and notebooks that you can carry with you at all times. Reliable equipment that would be worthy to accompany Arya in her adventures.

Padded envelopes to protect messages from RavensPadded envelopes to protect messages from crows

In the Seven Kingdoms, no email or telephone exist… but there are some very reliable messengers; the raven, carriers of all kinds of news and trained to travel the distances at a supersonic speed.

So, to ensure the parchments carried by these ravens arrive in perfect condition, it would be advisable to introduce maesters to bubble envelopes. Envelopes lined with protective air filled bubbles, they are ideal for wrapping items, even the most delicate small pieces including jewels to a loved one.

So this concludes our Game of Thrones adventure, but why not journey on to Rajapack for your packaging supplies. And we have a team of Packaging Specialists available that you can call, contact us on 0800 542 44 28 or email sales@rajapack.co.uk for help and advice.

Is a traditional greeting card the gift that keeps on giving?

Traditional vs electronic greetings card

A traditional greeting card is a great way to let someone know you’re thinking of them. Yet in the digital age of iMessage, WhatsApp and email – where we can do it all online with the mere touch of a button – is there still a place for putting pen to paper?

After all, many of these apps are now signified by the envelope icon itself, but how do they hold up against the real-life, physical card, envelope and mailing bag?

What’s the case for the traditional greeting card?

For some people, nothing can compare to a handpicked, handwritten greetings card. There’s something about the putting of pen to paper and the tangibility of handwritten words that is an inherently personal act. It’s considered, as opposed to a copy and paste job – and it takes time to do.

Not only that, but for many there’s something sentimental about its journey: from one person, in one place, to another somewhere else – often embodying so much more than a message, but a memory of a time, place, person or emotion.

Finally, it holds a physical permanence; a greeting card can become an ornament in your home, a heartfelt note that never leaves you, or put in your memory box to be remembered later in life.Rajapack envelope

How do we communicate in the digital age?

In today’s fast-paced and frenetic world, we are finding new ways to speed up in all aspects of life.

Thanks to almost every aspect of our lives moving online, we can now see our calendar appointments, book our gym classes, keep track of our friends’ birthdays and let multiple people know we are thinking of them at any one time.

This means that there is no longer the same need to pick out that personal card, write it by hand and take it to your friend, or, post it through the letter box.

And digital messages are getting more sophisticated. We’ve said goodbye to the grey text box and can now send words or voice notes accompanied with emojis, photos, videos, gifs, and even the latest movement in communications – memes.

It’s cheaper and instantaneous – and is beneficial where speed, reach, cost and flexibility are concerned. We can whizz over a text, tame our conscience and tick ‘contacting so-and-so’ off our long list of to-dos. But does it do enough?

Where does it leave our traditional well-wishes?

We wanted to know where traditional greeting cards stand today, especially with companies such as Moonpig seizing the benefits of each and bridging the gap between both.

We know that people still give them to celebrate significant events and special occasions, but is this due to societal pressures, or could it be something more? And is it only a matter of time before, much like the carrier pigeon or even the telephone box, the traditional greeting card is signed, sealed and decidedly done?

We surveyed the UK about their attitudes to greeting cards today, as well as speaking to applied linguist and author at the Open University, Philip Seargeant, about whether he thinks they will stand the test of time. Find out the full story on the future of the greeting card here: Traditional vs electronic greetings: What does the future hold?

 

 

Storage solutions

The key to good warehousing is good storage solutions and organisation: and that means having the right storage bins and warehouse equipment to keep everything in the right place and making sure everyone can find what they are looking for.Warehouse storage solutions

There is a vast array of storage solutions available, from simple cardboard storage bins to plastic storage boxes that stack in neat piles. They can be shelved, wall or rack mounted, stacked, and smaller ones can often be used inside larger ones.

So what exactly is a storage container, how big are they, what are they made of and how can you use them?

What is a storage container?

A storage container is any sort of container used to keep things in and they are usually found in warehouses or offices. They can also be called storage bins and can be pretty much any shape, size, colour or material – although cardboard and plastic are favoured as they are strong and economical to mass produce – they can be used to store pretty much anything.

Storage bins come in all shapes, sizes and materials

There are storage containers that fit on shelves, on wall mounted panels or stack up on themselves; there are louvred storage bins to heavy-duty lidded crates. Whatever your storage needs, there is a storage solution for it.

There are ranges of lidded bins, both in cardboard and plastic that can handle all manner of storage and warehousing needs. From storing and protecting documents, to filing tools, nuts and bolts and a vast array of other products – you just need to remember what you have put into which bin!

How to label storage bins

Labelling storage bins is crucial for knowing just what is in each bin or container, making it clear for anyone to find what they are looking for. How to label them comes down to what you are storing in them, but a few rules of thumb apply.

If you have lots of wall mounted containers or a stack of storage bins with lids, it can help to label them either alphabetically or chronologically and keep an inventory of what, when and where items were stored.

While it is possible to write on cardboard and some plastic containers, sticky labels are ideal as they can be clearly printed on and, should the contents of that storage bin change, a new label can be stuck over the old (or the old removed and replaced with a new one).

There are also ranges of storage bins that come with plastic holders for labels, as well as ranges that feature a slot for a label, making labelling straightforward and clear.

Storage bins with plastic label holders or with a slot for a label

If your containers contain fragile or dangerous goods, then you must label them correctly. Read our guide on hazard labels that can be used to mark those up – showing everything from ‘Fragile’ to ‘This way up’ to some of the dangers that may be stored within, such as ‘Corrosive’ or “Flammable’ and so on.

What are storage containers made of?

Storage containers are made of a range of materials, but typically they are made either from cardboard or from plastic. Cardboard is typically used for lighter, and drier goods, that do not generally require special handling. Cardboard storage bins are economical, ecological and are pretty flexible as to what you can keep in it.

Cardboard storage bins are cheap, plentiful and great for lighter storage

Plastic storage containers are made from high strength polypropylene – with some even made from recycled high strength polypropylene – and come in a range of thicknesses depending on the load they are likely to carry. Plastic storage containers can hold more heavy duty products, and are more durable and resistant.

Some storage solutions are made from transparent light-grade high-strength polypropylene, convenient for people to identify the contents, especially when they are stacked. Also, clear storage bins are useful for seeing what is stored within, and are available in selected colours – which are not only pretty, but extremely useful for colour-coding the inventory contained therein.Stackable plastic storage bins

 

Other bins such as large heavy-duty stackable plastic storage bins are made from super-thick high grade high-strength polypropylene, able to take a much greater weight of contents and allowing for tall stacks. These can handle all manner of storage demands – including handling containerised liquids, some foods, chemicals and dirty or oily parts – and have an excellent longevity in use.

Some storage containers are made from polyboard: a wipe-clean, 3.5mm thick polypropylene honeycomb that is shock and chemical resistant, as well as very light and very storing. These are ideal for the storage of mechanical and electrical parts and even pharmaceuticals.

Poliboard stackable plastic storage containers

How big is a storage container?

How big a storage container is depends on a number of factors. With such a vast choice of different storage options available it is hard to pick standard sizes across the board, but within certain categories of container there are usually a range of options.

Louvred storage bins that can be stacked or wall-mounted on louvred panels, come in a range of sizes and capacities – and with capacities that depend on whether they are standalone, stacked or mounted. At Rajapack we offer these bins in 8 different sizes and come in 4 colour variants.

Stackable plastic containers are slightly more standardised. The Rajapack range offer these containers in three sizes, coming in volumes of 14, and 52 litres, from sizes 400x280x200mm, 500x350x250mm and 590x400x290mm. This allows containers of the same size to be stacked – and many have secure interlocking mouldings on the bottoms and the lids to make them more stable.

Perforated Euro plastic stacking containers – which look a lot like old-fashioned beer crates – are another plastic storage solution that come with handy handles, and which also stack and are great for anything that may need ventilation while being stored.

Perforated Euro plastic stacking containers

At Rajapack these come in nine sizes, but all based around a standard 600x400mm footprint. Some are 300x400mm and some 600x800mm, but again these are multiples of the standard size. They come in heights of 70mm, 118mm, 150mm, 235mm, 280mm, 320mm and 410mm.

Picking the right sizes for your particular need is key – not least if you want them to stack. This is why it is often a good idea to buy your whole storage solution from one supplier, so that you have commonality of sizes which can also work together.

How much does a storage container weigh?

How much a storage container weighs depends very much on its size and what it is made from. Attached lid plastic storage containers’ weight are between 3.1 and 3.6kg depending on size, while most of the others are lighter, weighing in at under a kilo each.

The weight of a storage container depends largely on what you put in it, but they all come with weight limits. That said, the high strength polypropylene containers are so strong that they can’t hold enough bulk to break them.

How wide is a storage container?

The widths of storage containers are variable, as we have seen, although families of containers often come in neat multiples of one another so that they at least tesselate when stacked or can be arranged in neat combinations on shelves or wall mounts.

Louvred containers as we have seen come in a variety of widths that allow them to be mixed and matched to fit on standard wall mounts or trolleys. In the Rajapack range, large cardboard storage bins come in widths of 440 and 835mm to fit on standardised shelving.

Stacking containers tend to have standard footprints or multiples thereof. Euro plastic stacking and nesting containers, for example, come in standard widths of 300 or 400mm and lengths of 400 or 600mm. They then offer different storage volumes based around a range of heights.

Louvre storage bins

Are plastic storage bins recyclable?

What can you do with old storage bins? Despite being tough and resilient, eventually you may need to get rid of storage bins and containers – so what can you do with them?

Cardboard storage solutions can of course simply be recycled at any recycling centre. Polypropylene (PP) containers – including polyboard – can be recycled at specialist PP recycling centres, where they are crushed, chipped and melted down. This recycled PP is then used to make more storage containers – and garden furniture, butter tubs, bottle tops and more.

Want to know more about storage containers?

For additional advice on storage solutions, our packaging experts are here to help you find the right packaging solution and arrange next day delivery. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.