The corrugated plastic sleeve pack, also known as the pallet pack, is a form of reusable bulk container that is widely deployed in Europe. It is now also making inroads in North America as operators increasingly recognize the benefit. It provides a flexible, lower-cost approach to reusable packaging than rigid intermediate bulk containers, while providing a very attractive alternative to expendable packaging in many applications.
What is a sleeve pack?
A sleeve pack can be described as a unit load shipping system utilized to support, store, protect, transport and merchandise unit loads of goods or materials, including a pallet base, a top lid, as well as a foldable or two piece sleeve. Typically the pallet and top lid are plastic. The sleeve can be either corrugated cardboard or plastic, in various thicknesses, depending upon the demands of the application.
The sleeve pack opportunity
In spite of being widely deployed in Europe, vendors say that sleeve pack shipping systems remain an underutilized opportunity on the North American material handling scene, with its benefits not yet fully communicated.
What is its history?
The predecessor to the sleeve pack was the cardboard gaylord on a wood pallet. With the introduction of the solid deck plastic pallet, the bottom cardboard was no longer required, opening up the possibility of a sleeve – at first corrugated paper, and then hollow sheet plastic.
What are the benefits?
The reusable sleeve pack competes successfully with single trip gaylord and pallet systems in closed loops, as well as with plastic intermediate bulk containers for loads in the 600 to 700-pound range.
The reusable sleeve pack provides the functionality of the single use pallet and gaylord solution, but at a significantly lower cost per use in closed loop systems. The sleeve pack is light, durable, and collapses when emptied to provide efficient storage and extremely high return ratios of 6:1 or 8:1. In one international pooling application, it enjoys a 10:1 return ratio. The sleeve pack delivers a maximum inner dimension to outer dimension capacity. Additionally, loaded sleeve packs can be stacked up to 4 high in the warehouse, depending upon the product, and 2 high for shipment.
Aside from lightweight and durability, other benefits include ease of customization and operator convenience. Because it is often used with thermoformed pallets versus injection molded pallets, it can be more quickly prototyped to various pallet sizes as required. Sleeves can also be used with other types of pallets, including wood and injection molded, where a stiffer base is required. And increasingly, as the need for speed increases, reusable sleeve packs are being designed for ease and speed of assembly and disassembly. Also, the reusable sleeve pack eliminates single trip packaging waste and is fully recyclable at the end of its useful life.
Sleeve pack vendors provide a range of options, such as drop doors, bottom doors, different locking and latching mechanisms, customized internal dunnage, graphics, colors, as well as sleeve material and thickness choices.