All That You Wanted To Know About Dunnage
Published On:March 6, 2020 Revised On:February 20, 2023

All That You Wanted To Know About Dunnage

Irrespective of shipping cargo by air, sea, or road, freight transport always involves risk. Several reasons result in cargo damage – some are beyond human control, while others are caused by human error. Goods that are physically damaged are typically caused by improper wrapping and packaging, mishandling during transit, improper storage, or even incorrect labelling. Sometimes, damaged products are caused by unbalanced weight distribution. Lack of proper impact protection can also damage cargo. Protective packaging will ensure that goods are evenly distributed when stacking pallets or skids. Mismatched packages could create empty pockets and cause the pallets/skids to topple while in transit.

How Do Carriers Prevent Loads From Shifting?

Shippers use several methods to secure their pallets to protect them during transit. Load securement is accomplished by bracing and blocking using wood, metal bars, tie-downs, lashing belts, or fasteners. Whatever the method used, it is crucial to ensure that there is no void between pallets so that the goods in them do not move, irrespective of how smooth or bumpy the ride is.

What Is Dunnage?

Dunnage refers to any padding material that protects goods and prevents damage while shipping. It could range from simple bubble wrap to foam and even steel. The type of product to be shipped determines the dunnage material used. Shippers cannot place a small item in a box filled with dunnage. Nor can they bubble wrap 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. Protective packaging is used while goods are transferred to the manufacturing line to shield the parts. Dunnage is also used in manufacturing, especially in factories using automated systems – jigs and fixtures are used as dunnage to prevent robotic arms from harming humans.

Why Use Dunnage Air Bags?


DunDunnage Airbagsnage 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. A single airbag is enough to brace an entire container when arranged correctly. These are lightweight and easy to load or unload compared to other dunnage materials like wood or metal. 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 an air inflator gun or an electric air pump (with a fast-fill valve) designed especially for Dunnage Airbags. The bag can be filled in minutes and with minimal effort. Deflating is equally simple as well.

What Are The Different Types of Dunnage Air Bags?

The type of dunnage mainly depends on the material to be shipped—for example, solid plastics used for high-value industrial products. Bubble wraps are used to transport glass and other fragile goods. Wood has been traditionally used as a dunnage material to ship bulky goods. Paper Dunnage Bag is an economical and eco-friendly dunnage option. Foam to protect electronic items, medical equipment, or sharp pieces. Corrugated paper is related to shipping construction materials and goods that require protection from moisture. Some products require custom dunnage solutions – designed to match specific dimensions and made using unique materials. There are different types of Dunnage Bags suited for shipments. The shipment conditions and products would help decide the kind of Dunnage Bag required. Some of the common airbag types include:

Polywoven Air Bag

These bags have an airtight polyethene 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 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 compared to paper airbags and easy to load and unload.

Paper Dunnage Bag

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

Woven Dunnage Bags

Woven Dunnage Bags are preferred for shipments across rocky or mountainous roads. These bags can adjust to the shape of the bracing goods and contract or expand according to altitudinal air pressure. They’re waterproof and hence commonly used for refrigerated transport.

Customised Dunnage Bags

You can also customise 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, the type of cargo to be shipped, and the conditions to which the product is likely to be exposed during transit. The kind of Dunnage Bag 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 thicknesses that you will need depending on load size:

  • Two-ply: up to 40,000 pounds
  • Four-ply: up to 60,000 pounds
  • Six-ply: up to 100,000 pounds
  • Eight-ply: up to 120,000 pounds

Dunnage Airbag requirement also changes depending on the mode of transport. For example, truck shipments require a two-ply bag, while intermodal shipments require a two-ply Level 1 bag. Sea containers need Level 1 or Level 2 bags, while railroad cars will need higher dunnage bags depending on the load of the product. Vessel shipments also require higher airbag levels depending on the cargo’s weight. If you’re unsure about the Dunnage Airbag that’s right for your requirements, feel free to speak to our company’s representative. Ideally, the Dunnage Bag size is calculated by measuring the void between cargo and the distance from the floor to the top load. Remember to include the length of the pallet/skid.

Taking Care Of Dunnage Air Bags

Manufacturers often recommend placing a smooth surface on either side of the Dunnage Bag to prevent the airbag from having rough edges. Knowing how to use Dunnage Airbags properly is essential to protect cargo and save thousands of dollars in damaged shipments. 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—request a list of maximum void recommendations. Also, not all airbags are reusable. Always check the label on the bag to ensure that they are reusable and how many times they can be reused.

Here is a video about Dunnage Airbags.