Question from Morgan: 


If we switch to Rapid Bander could we reduce the thickness of our ECT box?


Great question!

Today, we are more aware of the impact that our waste stream creates on the planet, and as a result, we are more focused on every opportunity we can find to reduce source content. Rapid Bander will certainly have a major impact in the reduction of stretch film used, but it can also open the door to downgauging secondary packaging.

Let’s start by understanding the function that the ECT (edge crush test) box provides.

First, it is used to “bundle” multiple units of the primary package, for example 12 aerosol cans per box. This makes handling, stocking, and shipping product far more efficient. It also protects the primary package from damage.

Second, the box is used to provide structural support when multiple layers are stacked on a pallet. The bottom boxes need to support the weight of all the layers of product above. In some cases, pallets may be double-stacked as they are loaded in the trailer for shipment or in the warehouse to use space more efficiently. If that happens, the boxes now need to support the additional weight of the second pallet. Unfortunately, the second pallet is as not always considered in the initial design…

Third, (and not so obvious) the boxes must be strong enough to withstand the added weight of the load when a side force is applied, and the center of gravity shifts (as the product layers shift). This shift compounds the downforce, or the pressure exerted, on the leading-edge boxes.

Most packaging engineers calculate the load considering the product is stacked on the pallet, and even when pallets are double-stacked, because they know exactly what force is being applied to the bottom layer of boxes. What they cannot always calculate is the affect applied forces during shipment (referred to as dynamic forces (i.e. driving down the road starting, stopping, turning, uphill, downhill, etc., or high impacts such as trucks hitting the dock bumpers hard, rail car switching, or even panic stops) have on the bottom layer of boxes. Therefore, a DSM (design safety margin) is applied to the calculation to cover these additional “real world” forces.  

With a better grasp of the box function, and the rules used in its design, we can address the possibility of downsizing the ECT box.

When compared to conventional stretch film, the Rapid Bander fully unitizes the load. This means that when a side force is applied, the force is evenly distributed throughout the load rather than concentrated on the leading edge of the bottom layer of boxes.

Now for the bottom line, in many cases, it is possible that the ECT can be downsized. The DSM used can normally be reduced if the Rapid Bander is used, and an optimized load containment standard is in place and enforced, because the load is more effectively unitized minimizing product shift.  If the DSM can be reduced by 50% using the Rapid Bander, the packaging engineer will be able to calculate the resulting reduction in ECT box thickness.

Thanks for asking,