While the premise sounds simple enough on paper, the reality was for many years a lot more complicated for the Coated Products Operations unit of Green Bay Packaging Inc., which regularly ships 3,000- to 4,000-pound rolls of its pressure-sensitive label material from Green Bay, Wis., to customers in Canada, Mexico and across the U.S.
While utilizing rail-cars for many of its shipments makes sense economically, the company found out over time that the jolting starts and side-to-side rocking motion of the boxcars sometimes caused wood wedges to loosen from the pallets—enough to allow the rolls to move against the metal banding used to secure the product to wood pallets.
Consequently, the large rolls—measuring 52 to 60 inches in length and 32 to 50 inches in diameter—sometimes sustained heavy damage from friction with the metal banding, while the rocking movement also put additional pressure on a customized honeycombed wedge product—causing it to fail and ultimately allow the rolls to move about unrestrained.
There were also instances where the loosened wedges broke free of the banding altogether—even though each pallet was stretchwrapped—to leave the rolls totally unprotected, thereby increasing the likelihood of a load shift that would not only result in product damage, but also posed serious safety risks.
“When the train would rock back and forth, sometimes it would cause the rolls to crush the corrugated wedges—allowing the load to actually shift off the pallet or tilt,” recalls Jeff Klima, Green Bay Packaging slitter and shipping superintendent, adding that as dangerous as load-shifting can be in the semi-trailer, it can be potentially much more devastating when thousands of pounds of product are rolling around a rail car that’s tethered to other boxcars.