Winter weather means different things to different people throughout the United States, and it also means different things to your wood packaging.  Here at our headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, winter generally means colder temperatures and more rain (sometimes even freezing rain or snow).  In other areas of the country, winter drops feet of snow and it’s pretty darn cold during the winter months.

Just as this change in seasons affects us all in our day-to-day lives, it also impacts the condition and performance of the industrial wood, pallets, and crates that manufacturers use throughout the country.   Regardless of what winter weather looks like in your neck of the woods, there are strategies that manufacturers can use to help protect their protective packaging investment from the elements.

Moisture Is Enemy #1 of Wood Packaging

When it comes to maintaining the condition of your wood packaging, moisture is your biggest enemy.  Water degrades your wood more quickly than any other element mother nature can throw at you because excess moisture can create an ideal environment for mold.

Fortunately, that extra moisture also needs warmer temperatures for mold to take root and thrive.  In the winter, many areas stay cold enough to keep molds at bay, at least until spring comes along and temperatures rise.  In other areas, especially the southern United States, those occasional warmer days can allow for molds to take hold on your wood.

The best way to keep mold from taking root on your wood packaging is to shelter it where it can’t get wet, regardless of what time of the year it is.  Unfortunately for some manufacturers, that just isn’t a feasible option, but there are some other measures you can take that will help to prevent extra moisture from getting into your wood products:

  • Shelter wood products inside whenever possible.

  • Rotate the use of protective packaging so that they have a chance to dry out from time to time.
  • Cover your protective packaging and wood products with tarps before the wet weather starts and uncover it when the sun is out to let it dry out as much as possible.

  • While pallets are often stacked, it helps pallets dry out if you can space the stacks out a bit.

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Freezing Together

Freezing temperatures can also be a big problem for your protective packaging in the winter months.  This is especially true of pallets.  It’s not uncommon for pallets stacked outside to stick together when temperatures drop below freezing, and it’s even more common if you’ve got both moisture and freezing temperatures.

Unfortunately, you may find pallets freezing together in colder temperatures even if there hasn’t been any rain or snow.  The amount of moisture that normally occurs in pallets is enough for them to freeze together when they’ve been left out in the weather.  Pulling them apart can be difficult, even after they’ve warmed up.  It can also cause damage to your pallets.

How can you keep this from happening with your pallets?

Your best hedge against this kind of winter damage to your protective packaging is to bring your pallets inside when temperatures are expected to dip below freezing.  If that’s not possible, temporarily covering pallets may help, but only in barely freezing temperatures.  A degree or two can make all the difference.  Once pallets are warmed up, separate them carefully.

Snow Damage

Snowy winter weather can pose the same problems that we’ve already discussed, but it can also present an additional challenge.  Large storm systems can dump a significant amount of snow on your protective packaging, when left outside.

If it’s a sudden storm, you might be playing hide and seek with your wood products.  That can be a little inconvenient, but it’s not really a big deal.  What’s much worse for protective packaging left outdoors in winter is the fact that snow accumulation can quickly turn into blocks of ice encasing your wood packaging.  That makes it difficult to dig out and you may accidentally damage pallets, crates, and industrial wood.

While it’s certainly possible for these products to be saved if they are thawed out and left to thoroughly dry, damage from tools used to dig them out of a mountain of snow and ice can cause permanent damage.

Once again, bringing wood packaging inside is the best way to protect it.  Short of that, tarps can go a long way toward keeping snow from hardening around your industrial wood, crates, and pallets.  Let your materials dry out thoroughly before using them.

Wrapping It Up

Winter weather can be pretty hard on wood materials, whether it’s wood strapping or dunnage, crates, or pallets.  Your biggest hedge against damage is to bring your protective packaging materials inside out of the weather, where they can stay dry and avoid freezing temperatures.

For many companies, that simply isn’t possible, due to lack of indoor storage space.  That means that manufacturers must do their best to dry out their wood materials thoroughly and inspect them for damage before use.  Wood protective packaging can survive the winter as long as basic precautions are put in place.

Discover How to Reduce Your Supplier Risk Now

Uncover all the factors that put your supply (and suppliers) at risk. Discover how you can minimize supplier impact, and what strategies you can use if things go wrong.

Download White Paper