A Guide To Containment Force

What is Containment Force?

Containment force is the most important factor to consider for safety of your loads during shipping and transportation when using stretch film.  Containment force is the total force applied to your load at any given point.  It is the result of the number of revolutions of stretch film times the wrap force, also known as tightness.  It can be best visualized with this calculation:

Containment Force = # of Revolutions X Wrap Force

Measuring Containment Force

When measuring the containment force of your stretch-wrapped load, it is important to measure the top, middle, and bottom.  You need the correct amount of containment force in each of these areas to ensure your load is properly wrapped and secured for transit.  The recommended containment force will vary based on the weight and type of load you’re shipping.

If you aren’t currently having any problems with your loads during shipping, you should look to your current process for guidelines on the proper amount of containment force to use.  Many loads do not contain an even distribution of containment force across the entire load.  This is normally not a problem.  Variations in containment force are common from load to load. 

Here is an example of a wrapped load and the amount of force applied to each area:


  • Top: 15.7 lbs.    ———————————>


  • Middle: 12.1 lbs.   ——————————>


  • Bottom: 14.5 lbs ——————————-->
Stretch Wrapped Product

Changing Your Containment Force

There are two ways to change the containment force of your load.  You can change the number of revolutions of film, or the wrap force.  Increasing the number of revolutions can increase your film cost because you are using more film per load.  It’s recommended to try changing the wrap force before changing the number of revolutions.

When changing the wrap force of your stretch film, it’s important to monitor your loads for any damage or crushing, as this is a sign of too much wrap force being applied.

You can also try alternative gauges or film types to increase the integrity of your loads.  Advancements in stretch film technology, such as pre-stretched films, allow you to use less film to achieve the same or greater amounts of containment force for your loads.  Gone are the days where a thicker gauge is equated with a stronger film.

Optimizing Your Stretch Wrapping Applications

It’s important to continually monitor your containment force on your stretch wrapping applications.  This will ensure that you’re making the best use of your film and ensure that your operation continues to run smoothly.  Always check your containment force measurements when you change any part of your wrapping process, such as organizing your loads differently or changing stretch films.

Conducting a Stretch Film Audit

GAP-CO prides itself in offering innovative packaging solutions to all of its customers.  Our Packaging experts are trained to conduct film audits that can save your company time and money in your stretch wrapping applications.  We’ll conduct cut-n-weigh tests and recommend alternative solutions to optimize your packaging process.

If you want to learn more, or speak with one of our packaging professionals, contact us today.