The Different Types of Automotive Dunnage
The automotive industry is the number one consumer of reusable parts containers – called “dunnage” in the industry. While often overlooked, dunnage is a key player in helping to keep an automotive manufacturing company both “lean and green.”
Utilizing reusable parts containers can save automotive manufacturing companies thousands of dollars by eliminating the expense of purchasing new packaging for every shipment. Sturdy, rigid plastic containers also protect valuable parts from damage, dirt and moisture far better than disposable cardboard packaging – reducing shrinkage and improving the company’s bottom line.
Additionally, washable, reusable dunnage reduces an automotive manufacturer’s carbon footprint by keeping storage and shipping materials out of landfills.
In this article the dunnage experts at Clark Logic discuss the various types of automotive dunnage materials and manufacturing processes.
Automotive Dunnage Materials
Automotive dunnage is usually made from either plastic or urethane. Due to the wide variety of plastic and urethane formulations available, each has their own unique advantages and disadvantages depending on the application.
Some dunnage materials may be more shock absorbent, to protect delicate parts from vibration during transportation. While other dunnage materials may need to be exceptionally hard, strong and rigid, to tolerate tall stacking when filled with heavy components.
Automotive Dunnage Manufacturing Processes
Automotive dunnage is usually created using one of three methods: injection-molded plastic, thermoforming, or urethane molding. Which manufacturing process is best – including whether plastic or urethane is preferable – is determined by a number of factors, including:
- The end use or application
- Characteristics needed
- Time frame
Each of the following automotive dunnage manufacturing processes has its own advantages and disadvantages, as discussed below.
Injection Molding Automotive Dunnage
Injection-molded automotive dunnage can be made of either plastic or urethane, making it an adaptable container manufacturing method. Injection molding has the advantage of being ideal for high volume production and/or where precise tolerances are critical.
The disadvantages to injection molding automotive dunnage, however, are cost and time.
can Depending on part size and complexity of the dunnage molds can often be prohibitively expensive – in the tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, creating the mold is usually a slow and time-consuming process due to the precision tooling involved.
Thermoforming Automotive Dunnage
Thermoformed automotive dunnage is much lower in cost than injection molding. However, it is suitable for much more limited applications. Essentially thermoforming dunnage is limited to producing large plastic trays with pockets to hold items – and/or individual pockets or fixtures that can be trimmed from a full sheet of material.
Another disadvantage is that thermoformed trays have almost no ability to vibration, so they are not ideal for road or rail transport. Therefore, thermoformed automotive dunnage trays are typically used only to transport parts within a production facility on carts or on a manufacturing conveyor system.
Urethane Molding Automotive Dunnage
Urethane molded automotive dunnage is by far the most popular because it offers time and cost savings while it’s properties make it ideal for containing parts.
The open cast, low pressure tooling involved in urethane molding is considerably less expensive than the hardened steel molds needed for injection molding. Additionally, the lead time for this type of tooling is considerably shorter. And easy prototyping can minimize quality issues because design or tooling modifications can be incorporated more quickly at a lower cost.
Urethane is quite versatile and can be formulated to be spongy, flexible, grippy, or rigid – and even to dissipate static. This can solve many dunnage challenges, since the urethane resin formulation can be blended to meet the specific performance standards and characteristics needed.
Urethane also absorbs vibration and exceptionally abrasion and impact resistant. This makes urethane the ideal material for transporting components by rail and then truck. Urethane insulates parts from constant vibration and bumps, in addition to protecting them from impact if the transport vehicle should come to a sudden stop.
Urethane is also highly resistant to cracking or becoming brittle. This makes it more durable than plastic – giving it a longer shelf life – which also reduces dunnage costs.
Outsourced Automotive Dunnage Washing
Clark Logic’ customized , outsourced automotive dunnage washing provides a turnkey reusable container cleaning solution that will protect your valuable parts – while saving you time and money.
If you are an automotive manufacturer or Tier supplier call Clark Logic to today discuss your exact specifications for washing, drying, pickup/delivery, sorting, packaging and/or storing your returnable industrial containers.
Click or Call for a FREE Automotive Dunnage Washing Quote: