For logistical packaging variety of materials are in use. However the most common are follows.
1. Corrugated Fibreboard
The master cartons are invariably made out of two to three ply corrugated sheets. However, for logistical packaging, thicker corrugated sheets with five to six ply or more are preferred. This material is most commonly used for consumer durables such as television sets, washing machines, refrigerators, pharmaceutical products, liquor, cigarettes, matches, personal care items, light engineering goods, paints and electronics goods. The pallets are also made out of thin corrugated sheets. However, these pallets are used for very light goods in electronic, plastic and foam manufacturing industries (Figure 9.10).
The present consumption of corrugated boards in India is to the tune of 3,20,000 tonnes per annum, which is divided among above industries. Largest consumer is the food processing industry.
The metal containers—boxes or drums—made out of galvanized mild steel sheets are used for logistical packaging. This strong material can withstand abuse in handling during transit. The usage of this material is recommended for products like chemicals or lubricants wherein strong packaging material, which is less prone to damages during transit due to abuse in handling, is required. Due to higher strength of material, the spilling over or leakages are reduced.
Steel is commonly used for box containers used in multi-modal transportation by sea, rail or road. These containers are made out of thick alloy steel grade sheets for durability and high strength.
Plastic bags and containers are quite common in logistical packaging. Plastic drums are used for transporting liquid chemicals, while bags are used for chemicals in solid form and food grains packaging. The high-density plastics are used for rigid lidded containers for storage and transportation of small items. Plastic straps are used for unitizing the material in small packs to be stuffed into a large box container.
Shrink plastic sheets are used for securing and protecting the unitized load on the pallets or skids. Shrink packaging is very cost-effective as compared to the rigid plastic containers. However, it is not reusable and being non-biodegradable material creates problem for disposal.
The pallets made out of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are commonly used in application wherein properties of chemical and impact resistance are preferred. However, polyethylene has very poor resistance to bending. Polystyrene or Polypropylene is also occasionally used for certain product applications.
Wood is the most common material used for construction of pallets or crates. The pallets are designed to take loads up to 2,200 kilogram using hard wood. Soft wood may be used for weight carrying capacity up to 2,000 kilogram. The wooden pallets are cheaper as compared to metal or plastic pallets (Table 9.1).
Globally, wooden pallets are preferred and used for both in-house and shipping application. Investment in pallets is a costly affair and hence is used on a limited scale. In many cases, the users and the pallet supplier create pallet pool for reusing the pallets, and thus reduce the recurring investment and resolve the problem of waste disposal.
Source: Sople V.V (2013), Logistics Management, Pearson Education India; Third edition.