Proper Usage and Installation of Dunnage Bags

Proper Usage and Installation of Dunnage Bags
Published On:March 6, 2020 Revised On:August 6, 2023

When it comes to transporting goods across various modes of transportation, ensuring the safety and security of the cargo is of utmost importance. Improperly secured loads can lead to damaged goods, delays, and even accidents. In this article, we will explore the proper usage and installation of dunnage bags to ensure smooth and safe transportation.

Understanding Dunnage Bagsp

Dunnage bags are inflatable bags made from polypropylene or kraft paper, designed to fill the voids between cargo items and stabilize them within shipping containers, trailers, or railcars. They work on the principle of friction and pressure, preventing the movement of goods during transit. These bags come in various sizes, shapes, and load-bearing capacities, making them suitable for securing a wide range of cargo types.

The improper use of dunnage bags can compromise cargo safety and result in financial losses for businesses. Therefore, understanding the correct usage and installation techniques is crucial for all involved in the logistics and transportation industry. Properly secured cargo not only reduces the risk of damage but also enhances efficiency and optimizes space utilization during transportation.

Selecting the Right Dunnage Bag

Proper selection of dunnage bags is crucial to ensure effective load securement and safe transportation. Considering various factors during the selection process can help match the right dunnage bags with the specific requirements of the cargo being transported.

Determining Load Requirements

Factors to consider include the weight of the cargo, the dimensions of the items being transported, and the mode of transportation. A thorough understanding of the cargo’s characteristics will help determine the amount of pressure the dunnage bags need to withstand to prevent movement and shifting.

For heavy and dense cargo, higher load-bearing capacity dunnage bags are necessary, while lighter cargo may require bags with lower load capacity. Additionally, understanding the fragility of the cargo can influence the level of cushioning required to protect it during transit.

Choosing the Correct Size and Type

The bags should be large enough to create sufficient friction and pressure to hold the cargo securely in place. However, oversized bags may lead to inefficiencies and unnecessary material costs. Measure the gaps between cargo items accurately and choose dunnage bags that can fit snugly into those spaces.

It is advisable to use different sizes and shapes of dunnage bags to accommodate irregular gaps or to secure multiple layers of cargo effectively. Apart from size, consider the type of dunnage bag suitable for the cargo and mode of transportation. There are various types available, including standard poly-woven bags, paper bags, and water-resistant bags. The choice may depend on factors such as weather conditions, the sensitivity of the cargo to moisture, and the specific demands of the shipping environment.

Considering Load Securement Factors

Effective load securement is not solely reliant on the dunnage bags themselves. Other factors come into play to ensure the cargo remains stable and secure throughout the transportation process.

  • Blocking and Bracing: Dunnage bags are most effective when used in conjunction with proper blocking and bracing techniques. Using pallets or other load securement packaging materials to stabilize the cargo will enhance the performance of the dunnage bags and reduce the risk of cargo movement.
  • Friction Matting: Employing friction-enhancing materials, such as friction matting or anti-slip layers, can significantly improve the grip between the cargo and the dunnage bags. This added friction reduces the chances of the cargo sliding or shifting during transit.
  • Lashing and Strapping: Securely lashing and strapping the cargo to the container walls provides an additional layer of reinforcement. The tension from the lashings helps compress the dunnage bags further and enhances load stability.
  • Air Pressure Adjustment: Depending on the specific cargo and the length of the journey, adjusting the air pressure in the dunnage bags may be necessary. In some cases, overinflating or underinflating the bags can lead to suboptimal load securement.

Proper Dunnage Bag Installation

Proper installation of dunnage bags is essential to maximize their effectiveness in securing cargo during transportation. Following the proper installation procedures ensures that the dunnage bags provide optimal stability and prevent any potential movement or damage to the cargo. The bags should be positioned strategically between the cargo items, ensuring maximum contact and friction. Placing the bags too close to sharp edges or corners may cause punctures, rendering them ineffective.

Once in position, secure the dunnage bags to the cargo and the container walls using appropriate restraints or lashings. Proper training of personnel involved in cargo handling is also essential to ensure the correct usage and installation of dunnage bags. Educate them about the importance of load securement, and provide guidance on handling different types of cargo.

Positioning Dunnage Bags within Cargo

Careful positioning of dunnage bags is the first step in their proper installation. The goal is to fill the void spaces between cargo items to eliminate any gaps and prevent shifting during transit. Properly positioned dunnage bags help distribute the weight evenly, preventing the cargo from leaning to one side during transit. This balance ensures stability and reduces the risk of toppling over or shifting during sudden movements.Follow these guidelines for positioning:

Inspect the cargo to identify void spaces and gaps between items. These are areas where cargo movement is most likely to occur. Place the dunnage bags in strategic locations within the cargo. Ensure the bags are placed between the cargo items and container walls or other cargo pieces. For multi-tiered or layered cargo, use dunnage bags between each layer to prevent them from settling or collapsing during transit. Avoid placing air bags in areas with sharp edges or corners, as these may cause punctures or damage to the bags.

Securing Dunnage Bags in Place

Once the air bags are properly positioned within the cargo, the next step is to secure them in place to maintain their effectiveness throughout the journey. Properly securing the dunnage bags prevents displacement and ensures they maintain pressure and friction.

Regularly inspecting the dunnage bags and cargo during transit is necessary to ensure they remain secure. If any air leakage is detected or if the bags have shifted, take immediate action to reinflate and reposition them. Upon reaching the destination, the unloading process requires careful handling to avoid damage to both the cargo and the dunnage bags. Dispose of the used dunnage bags responsibly and in accordance with environmental regulations.

Use strong and reliable lashings or straps to secure the dunnage bags to the cargo and container walls. This helps keep the bags in position and prevents them from moving during transportation. Ensure that the lashings are tightened adequately to compress the dunnage bags and create a firm grip between the cargo items. However, avoid overtightening, as this may damage the bags or cause unnecessary pressure on the cargo.

Proper Inflation Techniques

The inflation of dunnage bags is a critical step that directly impacts their ability to secure the cargo effectively. Proper inflation ensures the bags provide the necessary pressure and friction to prevent cargo movement.

  1. Using Appropriate Inflation Equipment: Use an air compressor or manual pump specifically designed for inflating dunnage bags. Avoid using high-pressure equipment, as it may lead to overinflation and bag bursts.
  2. Inflation Pressure: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended inflation pressure based on the specific cargo and dunnage bag type. Underinflation may result in insufficient stability, while overinflation can lead to bag rupture.
  3. Even Inflation Distribution: Inflate the dunnage bags evenly to ensure uniform pressure distribution. This helps create a consistent grip between the cargo and the bags.
  4. Monitoring and Adjusting: Regularly monitor the inflation of the dunnage bags during loading. Make adjustments as needed to maintain the desired pressure level.


Dunnage bags are used in the logistics and transportation industry, providing a reliable and cost-effective method for securing cargo during transit. By selecting the appropriate dunnage bags, ensuring proper installation, and conducting regular inspections, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of damage. A well-secured load not only protects the goods but also contributes to a safer and more efficient supply chain.

Stream Peak offers a wide range of Kraft paper dunnage bags and PP woven dunnage bags. Our team of packaging engineers provides comprehensive training sessions to ensure your personnel are well-versed in the best practices for cargo securing. Contact us for a demonstration. Ensure safe cargo transit with Stream Peak.