Dunnage Meaning

Dunnage is a shipping terminology that describes packaging supplies, such as bubble wrap, kraft paper, crinkle paper, planks, blocks, and boards to support and secure packages during shipping. In the pick and pack process, dunnage is typically used to help protect the products from damage and shifting around. Dunnage can range from softer packaging materials like bubble wrap to sturdier packaging materials like industrial solid plastics. Although an appropriate box or poly bag should be selected for the product being shipped, that way the dunnage can also be used at its best.

Different Types of Dunnage

To ensure customer satisfaction and remain profitable, dunnage is the solution to protecting both your products and your business.

There are many pros and cons on the type of infill that protects items in their package, but each type you use will be dependent on the type of products being shipped. Listed below are several commonly used dunnage materials with examples of the types of products they are commonly used for and the pros and cons of each.

Air Pillows

These are relatively new in protective packaging but have already been implemented in many companies’ packaging processes. They are used when shipping the following products:

  • Electronics
  • Sporting Goods
  • Home Decor

Pros of Air Pillows Are:

  • Non-abrasive, making them best used for smooth items that are easily scratched
  • Filling large voices in packaging instead of paying the cost for denser fill options
  • Easily transported and stored as air pillows can be inflated when needed or deflated when not in use

Cons of Air Pillows Are:

  • They might not be suitable for items that are at a high risk of breaking
  • It would not work for heavy items or items with jagged edges

Kraft Paper

Kraft paper possesses a more aesthetic presentation when shipping products and still solves the issue of potential scratching and damage during shipment. It is commonly used for:

  • Books
  • Heavy products

Pros Of Kraft Paper Are:

  • A better packing experience and a more enjoyable opening experience for customers
  • Cost-effective alternative to filling up extra space and protect items during shipment as kraft paper can be balled up or layered for use to fill any empty spaces in any size box
  • Recyclable by both e-commerce retailers and consumers

Cons of Kraft Paper Are:

  • Shaping kraft paper to fill voids can be time consuming
  • Can weigh more than other alternatives leading to an increase in shipping costs

Packing Peanuts

These have been around in the shipping industry for a while due to their effectiveness and cost efficiency. They might not be suitable for all kinds of shipments but they are commonly used for:

  • Jagged items
  • Heavy items
  • Items with irregular shapes (toys, musical instruments, etc.)

Pros To Packing Peanuts Are:

  • Filling voids with ease and enveloping items in a protective pool of air and polystyrene
  • Lightweight and unlikely to increase shipping costs
  • Reusable with little loss in effectiveness

Cons To Packing Peanuts Are:

  • Possesses a significant risk of static shock to electronic devices of all varieties
  • Not environmentally friendly, with exceptions to certain packing peanuts that can be dissolved for disposal
  • It takes up more space when not in use and can add to warehouse and storage costs

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap has been less prominent since the introduction of air pillows, but its use still remains consistent to shipping needs. They are used for:

  • Small, fragile items
  • Large heavy items (furniture included)

Pros To Bubble Wrap Are:

  • Fairly exceptional protection even for high risk items when used properly
  • Can help reduce the amount of packaging space your shipments require

Cons To Bubble Wrap Are:

  • Not environmentally friendly
  • Takes up a lot of space when not in use

Shredded Cardboard

Shredded cardboard has already been a part of major shipping processes, but it can also be used as additional padding for packages. It is commonly used for:

  • Small, heavy items (typically made of glass)
  • irregularly shaped items
  • Items with rough surfaces

Pros To Shredded Cardboard Are:

  • Environmentally friendly as it can be made from recycled materials
  • Companies can create their own shredded cardboard whenever needed with an industrial paper shredder

Cons To Shredded Cardboard Are:

  • Can pose a risk of scratching fragile items

Molded Infill

Molded infill has customizable capabilities that other dunnage options cannot imitate. They can be shaped to match the contours of the packaging or the item itself. Although they are more than just all-in-one solutions for packaging. They are used for:

  • High-value, expensive items
  • Machinery and large electronic devices

Pros To Molded Infill Are:

  • Highly customizable and can secure almost any kind of item
  • Preserves the shape of the outer packaging
  • Options such as molded pulp are lightweight and can reduce shipping costs

Cons To Molded Infill Are:

  • Bulky to store when not in use
  • Usually made from styrofoam, so it’s not environmentally friendly

Picking which type of dunnage depends on the types of products you’re shipping and if they fit your business’s needs. Ultimately, the best option will be the one that is cost-effective, efficient, and protects your products.

Benefits of Dunnage For Shipping

Using dunnage is helpful in ensuring that packages are secured and unharmed and prevents unintended accidents that may occur during the shipping process. The three main benefits are:

  1. Damage Protection
    1. Dunnage prevents packages from moving around when being shipped in a truck, ship, or train, which could cause damage during transportation. Dunnage can be incredibly cheap but extremely valuable to protect valuable, fragile, or loose items.
  2. Moisture Protection
    1. Moisture can potentially damage products, and the right dunnage can protect equipment, such as electronics, from moisture.
  3. Shock Absorption
    1. During shipment, products are prone to movement, getting squished, or collision resulting in shock and vibration. Dunnage will help act as a shock absorber to prevent any damages that may incurr.

What is Dunnage in Trucking?

Dunnage in Trucking is specific dunnage material used to protect and secure packages being shipped with a truck. The dunnage for trucking is typically made from various materials that range from wood, solid plastics, foam, airbags, and steel. Still, the most common dunnage materials are foam, corrugated paper, wood, and plastic. Each dunnage will vary depending on the application and the product being shipped, all of which are to ensure the products are not sliding off a flatbed truck.

What is a Dunnage Rack?

Dunnage racks are devices that raise stored items off the ground to prevent damage to the products from dirt or flooding. Additionally, the racks also help with airflow underneath the items and provide easy access for cleaning the floor. Dunnage Racks are typically used for storing perishable products that need to be kept away from dirt and water accumulating on the floors. There are multiple types of dunnage racks and the best choice will be the one that satisfies your storage needs.

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