Dunnage Bags, sometimes called Dunnage Airbags or simply Dunnage Air Bags (and we have even heard them be called 'Container Pillows' or 'BIG JIFFY BAGS), are bags made of strong materials that slip between products in a ship's hold to secure them in transit. These dunnage bags are filled with air from a compressor and set in place between products and pallets to fill the void between them. Filling this void with Dunnage Bags stops the product moving and potentially getting damaged in transit.
Dunnage bags, also known as airbags, air cushions, and inflatable bags, (and we have even heard them be called 'Container Pillows') are used to secure and stabilize cargo. Introduced around 1970, dunnage bags provide convenient and cost-effective cargo stabilization in ISO sea containers, closed railcars, trucks, and oceangoing vessels.
These dunnage bags are filled with air from a compressor and set in place between products and pallets to fill the void between them. Filling this void with Dunnage Bags stops the product moving and potentially getting damaged in transit.
These Dunnage Bags are extremely strong as detailed in our video below where we actually drop a Nissan Navarra on to one to prove the strength.
Dunnage air bags come in a variety of sizes and can be small or up to 2 metres in height. These dunnage bags have incredible flexibility and can be placed inside a container, in a pallet box, or around products or other objects. They provide excellent product protection and padding, preventing your goods from taking damage in transit. Best of all, they can be reused. Simply deflate at the end of the transit and reinflate as and when you need product protection.
It is these outstanding qualities that make dunnage bags the perfect solution to product protection for ship transits, either short or long haul.
Traditionally, Dunnage Bags have been used for filling the void between pallets in transit, thus securing them in place and preventing product damage.
However, we have now on a number of occasions utilised them in combination with wooden pallet collars to create the ultimate product protection for products within a crate. The ability to match dunnage air bags to a void makes them instrumental in the construction and implementation of product protection, either in ships' holds or trucking containers.
In two examples recently, one from a pump company and one from a precision engineering firm, we've created the crate around the product with our Wooden Pallet Collars and then, to fill the void between the product and sides of the crate, we've utilised Exporta's Dunnage Air Bags.
These bags have held the products securely and safely, decreasing the likelihood of the products taking any damage in transit. So far, feedback has been superb. The sturdiness of the pallet collars combined with the flexibility of the air bags has gone down a storm and we think that there are more applications similar to this out there for these fantastic products.
In the past, there has been issue with what to do with traditional dunnage – often loose wood or heavy materials – upon arrival at the destination. Sometimes the dunnage cannot be offloaded due to customs duties on imported timber or materials, other times quarantine rules restrict the movement of dunnage from ship to shore. As a result, unwanted dunnage is often jettisoned overboard and adds to the local area’s driftwood problem. This can cause damage to the natural ecosystem and, if allowed to build up, have serious impact on the local community.
Dunnage bags mitigate some of this issue. Thanks to the fact that they can be deflated and reused, once products have arrived at their intended (or even unintended) destination, they can be deflated and stored. This means that they take up less space, reducing the issue of unwanted dunnage. This in turn reduces the desire for the ship’s captain to jettison unwanted, space-consuming, heavy dunnage. It is these seemingly small improvements in the transportation industry that make large knock-on impacts to operational costs, as well as helping reduce environmental impact in an industry notorious for waste and environmental damage.
Dunnage has long been a requirement for the transit of products via shipping routes. Rough seas, hard sailing, and delicate manoeuvring of a ship through unsafe areas could all cause goods in the hold to slide around or fall over, damaging goods and causing a loss in profit for the shipping company and/or the merchant.
To combat this, heavy, weighted material was draped over barrels and crates and scrap wooden placed in between them to restrict movement. This worked to an extent, but there were several issues. The weight of the dunnage meant that ships could carry less cargo, increasing the cost of shipping and reducing profits across the board. Dunnage was also often jettisoned after unloading, as an empty ship has no need for material to weigh down its cargo and an empty ship can travel faster, meaning more trips can be completed in the same amount of time.
This was the industry standard for years as there was no viable alternative. As material science and production capabilities advanced, however, a new option was born. In 1970, the dunnage air bag, also known either as a dunnage bag or dunnage airbag, was introduced. The initial material used was rubber, giving the dunnage bag expandability, durability, and flexibility. Over time, this design morphed into a Kraft paper outer with a plastic (polyethylene) inner lining. The outer paper lining is made of the highest quality, lightweight Kraft paper of high tensile strength. The inner polyethylene lining provides optimum pressure and the outer Kraft paper lining provides optimum strength. When used for the chemical industry, dunnage bags can be polycoated. A polycoat can make the dunnage bag resistant to specific chemicals.
The other main type of dunnage air bag is a woven polypropylene dunnage bag. Woven Polypropylene bags are extremely durable and can be used in dry and wet conditions. These dunnage bags are best for extreme heavy loads.
Poly woven dunnage airbags have greater elasticity than Kraft paper dunnage airbags for more surface contact with the pallets. Poly woven material provides greater tear strength, and superior moisture resistance than most other dunnage bag materials. Poly woven dunnage airbags typically have greater reuse opportunities, due to the durability of the woven material, and are recyclable.
Dunnage air bags are of no use by themselves. Like many things in life, they work best in partnership with others. If you are looking to buy dunnage air bags today, you may also be interested in our plastic pallet range. Our business at Exporta was built on plastic pallets. We understand plastic pallets. We live plastic pallets. If we could, we would breathe plastic pallets.