All About Dunnage Bags

All About Dunnage Bags

Damage Prevention

All That You Wanted To Know About Dunnage

All That You Wanted To Know About Dunnage

Irrespective of whether you’re planning to ship your cargo by air, sea, or road, freight transport always involves risk. Several reasons cause cargo damage – some are beyond human control while others caused by human error. Goods could be physically damaged because of improper wrapping and packaging, mishandling during transit, improper storage, or even improper labeling. Sometimes, goods are damaged because of unbalanced weight distribution. A lack of proper impact protection can also damage cargo.

When stacking pallets or skids, care must be taken to ensure that they’re evenly shaped and distributed. Mismatched packages could create empty pockets and cause the pallets/skids to bounce while in transit.


How Do Carriers Prevent Loads From Shifting?

Shippers use several methods to secure their pallets to protect them during transit. This can be done by bracing and blocking using wood, metals bars, tie-downs, lashing belts, or even fasteners. Whatever the method used, it is important to make sure that there is absolutely no void between pallets so that the goods in them do not move, irrespective of how smooth or rough the ride. A void between the pallets will cause the goods to move from side to side, or back and forth or up and down during the journey.


What Is Dunnage?

Dunnage refers to any padding material that protects goods and prevents damage while shipping. It could range from the simple bubble wrap to foam and even steel. The type of good to be shipped determines the dunnage material used. Shippers cannot place a small item in a large box filled with dunnage. Nor can they bubblewrap a fragile cargo and expect the dunnage material to do its job!

Shippers use dunnage while transporting heavy-duty cargo or fragile parts such as transmission or body panels to absorb vibration and reduce breakage. They’re used while goods are being transferred to the manufacturing line to shield the parts. Dunnage is also used in manufacturing, especially factories using automated systems – jigs and fixtures are used as dunnage to prevent robotic arms from harming humans.


What Are The Different Types Of Dunnage?

As earlier said, the type of dunnage used largely depends on the material to be shipped. For example, solid plastics are used for high-value industrial products. Bubble wraps are used to ship glass and other fragile goods. Wood has been traditionally used as a dunnage material to ship heavy goods. Paper dunnage bag is an economical and ecofriendly dunnage option. Foam is used to protect electronic items, medical equipment, or sharp pieces. Corrugated paper is used to ship construction material and goods that have to be protected from moisture. Some materials require custom dunnage solutions – these are designed to match specific dimensions and made using special materials.


Why Use Dunnage Air Bags?

Dunnage airbags are a cost-effective way to fill a void and mitigate damage. There are several reasons why shippers prefer dunnage airbags to other types of dunnage. For one, they are economical – a 2-ply bag can hold up to 40,000 pounds of cargo. When loaded properly, a single airbag is enough to brace an entire container. These are lightweight and easy to load or unload when compared to other dunnage materials like wood or metal – you don’t have to waste time or money when using airbags. Dunnage bags offer 360° impact protection. It is ideal for filling any void left because of pallets.

But the best thing about void filler bags is that they are easy to use. All you need is a dunnage bag air inflator gun or an electric air pump (with a fast-fill valve) that is designed especially for dunnage airbags. The bag can be filled in minutes and with very little effort. Deflating is equally easy and stress-free.


What Are The Different Types of Dunnage Air Bags?

There are different types of dunnage bags suited for different shipments. Choosing the right type of airbag for your cargo depends on the conditions that it is likely to be exposed during transit, and the items that are being shipped. Some of the common airbag types include:


1. Polywoven Air Bag:

These bags have an airtight polyethylene inner bladder and polypropylene woven outer layer and are ideal for medium to heavy cargo or items shipped via railroad. Polypropylene bags are strong and durable and offer some element of protection from harsh weather conditions or chemical environments. They are resistant to moisture, flexible enough to fit into odd voids between cargo, and easy to install in hard to reach places. Also, they’re lightweight when compared to paper airbags and hence easy to load and unload.


2. Paper Dunnage Bag:

The inner layer of these bags is made using woven polypropylene, while the outer layer is made using kraft paper. Paper airbags are the most economical of all and ideal for dry cargo. They are environment-friendly, cost-effective, and available in multiple sizes. Paper dunnage bags are easy to dispose of and quick to unload and load. Like poly woven airbags, they can fill a void in odd shapes easily.


3. Vinyl Dunnage Bags:

Vinyl papers are preferred for shipments that have to be carried across rocky or mountainous roads. These bags can adjust to the shape of the goods they’re bracing and also contract or expand according to altitudinal air pressure. They’re waterproof and hence commonly used for refrigerated transport.


4. Customized Dunnage Bags:

You can also customize airbags for specific cargo or special transit conditions. Most manufacturers offer to design custom solutions to match shipping requirements.


How To Choose The Right Dunnage Bag?

Choosing the right dunnage bag depends on the mode of transport chosen, the type of cargo to be shipped, and the conditions that the product is likely to be exposed during transit.

The type of dunnage bag to be used also depends on the weight you’re looking to ship. Ideally, you can brace up to 120,000 pounds in a container. As for choosing the right ply, here’s a list of ply that you will need depending on load size:

  • 2 ply: up to 40,000 pounds
  • 4 ply: up to 60,000 pounds
  • 6 ply: up to 100,000 pounds
  • 8 ply: up to 120,000 pounds

Dunnage airbag requirement also changes depending on the mode of transport. For example, truck shipments require a 2 ply bag while intermodal shipments will need a 2 ply Level 1 bag. Sea containers need a Level 1 or Level 2 bags while railroad cars will need higher levels of bags depending on the load of the product. Vessel shipments also need higher levels of airbags depending on the weight of the cargo.

If you’re not sure about the dunnage airbag that’s right for your cargo, speak to the company’s representative. Some companies also upload a technical datasheet on their website for reference to help buyers choose the right bag.

Ideally, dunnage air bag size is calculated by measuring the void between cargo and the distance from the floor to the top load. If a pallet is being used, you will have to measure the length of the pallet/skid and refer to the size chart provided by the company.


Taking Care Of Dunnage Air Bags:

To prevent the airbag from rough edges, manufacturers often recommend placing a smooth surface on either side of the dunnage bag. Knowing how to use dunnage airbags properly is important to protect cargo and save thousands of dollars in damaged cargo. When inflating the bag, do not apply more pressure than recommended; or, the airbag could burst. Also, fill any voids that exceed 18 inches with appropriate filler material like old pallets. Check the manufacturer’s website for a list of maximum void recommendations.

Also, not all airbags are reusable. Always check the label on the bag to make sure that they are reusable and for how many times can be they are reused.