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The primary purpose of plastic transit packaging is to protect goods during storage or distribution, which is why plastic pallet boxes are the gold standard option — offering excellent cargo protection. Equally, folding plastic boxes are a reliable, robust, hygienic and infinitely recyclable choice for both storage and transportation; but if return space is a consideration and you need a folding box, you may struggle to choose between Sleeve Packs and folding large containers (FLCs). In this blog our experts at Goplasticpallets.com break down the advantages of both.
A Sleeve Pack pallet box is constructed from three plastic components — a strong pallet base, a fully sealed foldable sleeve, and a lid. Sleeve Packs are easy to assemble and fold down, with the sleeve stored within the container. This space-saving and stackable solution offers ease of handling in a weatherproof and durable design.
A folding large container (FLC) combines the sturdiness of a rigid plastic pallet box coupled with the space-saving advantage of folding down when not in use. With both options being great ways to ship or store large volumes and irregularly sized items, while offering high protection from damage and breakages and keeping space utilisation low when not in use, which is right for you: a Sleeve Pack or a Folding Large Container?
For lighter, bulkier loads, a Sleeve Pack may be the best option. Although both products perform well in this situation, Sleeve Packs creep ahead with the advantage of being lighter and shallower when folded. If your load is heavier than 500kg, a foldable large container would be the better option, as its thicker, rigid sides provide greater strength in comparison to its Sleeve Pack counterpart.
Both Sleeve Packs and FLCs offer exceptional protection against damage and breakage of goods. Sleeve Packs have a thin but slightly flexible sleeve which protects goods and gives larger internal dimensions than an FLC; where an FLC has thicker, pressure-injected sides giving it a sturdier construction.
If space utilisation is key, Sleeve Packs offer the advantage. They have a lower collapsed height when empty, meaning more can be stacked in transport, resulting in high-volume return quantities. FLCs also offer good space utilisation and can be safely stacked six high when folded down, although Sleeve Packs have the edge, as they can be stacked up to 12 high.
Both Sleeve Packs and folding large containers are a great solution for storage and transportation as they are stackable – with some options being rackable, and suitable for use in automation, depending on the materials handling equipment being used. However, for automated warehouses with roller conveyors, shuttles and other automated systems, FLCs on runners would be the recommended choice.
Ease of folding
Both Sleeve Packs and folding large containers are quick and easy to assemble and disassemble. Where the sleeve of a Sleeve Pack folds out and sits in the pallet base, an FLC has four sides that fold upwards, so when it comes to speed of folding, FLCs are slightly quicker.. It is also possible to automate the process of folding an FLC, unlike a Sleeve Pack. The later generation of Sleeve Packs, however, do contain features that help speed up the folding process – so they are not far behind the FLC in this area.
Ease of return
Losing pallet box components is always a possibility and, with Sleeve Packs having three components — sleeve, lid and base — in contrast to the two components — container and lid — of FLCs, they require more care and consideration when returning flat-packed. That said, Sleeve Packs can often have a small viewing window where you can see the sleeve inside when its flat packed, which can provide reassurance.
Adaptability is key when transporting a range of goods. FLCs are ready-made in standard footprints – 12000mm (H) x 1000mm (W) and 1200mm (H) x 800mm (W) – sizes but they can be ‘cut and shut’ to create a larger footprint, although this can be a complex and expensive process. In contrast, Sleeve Pack bases are already produced in some larger sizes, such as 1900mm (H) x 1200mm (W) and can be provided with sleeves of shallower or taller heights and with additional drop down doors, where required.
Printing your brand logo, handling and contact details can enhance your plastic pallet box. This is easily done with a Sleeve Pack as the sleeve offers large smooth sides for branding, but becomes more complex if you use FLCs as printing space is limited. Sleeves can also be made in bespoke colours – one of our customers chose pink to match their branding – and two colour printing is also available.
If, however, an FLC is overall the better choice for you, you can fit document holders and pockets to the outer sides of the box.
If you’re transporting goods that require extra support or need to be separated, both Sleeve Packs and FLCs can have compartments and dividers added.
Deciding whether a Sleeve Pack or FLC is the best option for your project comes entirely down to the specification of the task and a consideration of the benefits of each, as outlined in our blog.