Ensuring a Tight Load

Preventing roll damage is critical for mills and the printers who depend on them. Here’s a look at some causes of damage and the effects.


At the TAPPI Shipping, Receiving & Warehousing (SRW) Conference in April 2017, delegates received a printer’s view on damage from Julie Furbee, materials supervisor, LSC Communications. LSC was transitioned from well-known printer RR Donnelley in late 2016 when Donnelley was split into three independent companies. LSC Communications is the print services arm and is the successor to Donnelley’s book, catalogue, retail insert, office products, and magazine retail business. It counts 51 production facilities among its assets, 43 of which are located in the US. The LSC name is derived from a more than century-old RR Donnelley tradition of giving books to its clients at Christmas, the Lakeside Classics.

LSC has more than 3,000 customers globally; retail inserts, magazines and catalogs account for almost half of the business. Books account for another 25 percent of sales.

Furbee notes that truck transport increased by 6 percent in 2016 compared with 2015, with the delivery share rising to 58 percent while rail deliveries fell to 40 percent. Overall, damage figures improved year-over-year for both truck and rail: a 17 percent improvement for truck; 26 percent for rail.

The number of fully damaged rolls has improved, but the situation is more volatile month-to-month, especially in truck shipments. Partial damage is flat month to month. For LSC, damage is defined as one-eighth of an inch in depth or more. Furbee adds that different printers may have different standards.

Furbee explains that partial damage is more important to a printer because when the damage is stripped away, there is concern about how the rest of the roll will run on the press. It can create runnability issues on the press. Pages may be off-fold or color may be off-register. Press breaks may be more frequent.

As a modern printing press is running, it adjusts continually to the roll on it. So, when repaired rolls are spliced with undamaged ones, the press may have trouble adjusting.


LSC is very thorough when it comes to documenting damage. It specifies the location in the truck or rail car the roll was placed when damage occurred: nose, center, or tail for truck; brake end, door, or air end for rail.

There are eight possible types of damage: chafing, out of round, wet, crush/wrinkle, flat spots, gouge/dirt, split/cuts, and wrapper. LSC also identifies where on the roll the damage occurred.

Breaking it down further, transport by rail tends to see more chafing damage followed by crush/wrinkle. By truck, gouge/dirt is the main cause of damage, also followed by crush/wrinkle.

In terms of where roll damage occurs, in rail cars, chafing occurs in the body. This is by far the prevalent location for damage. By rail, more damage occurs at the ends of the car with the brake end seeing slightly more than the air end.

In trucks, the gouge/dirt damage is also more likely to occur in the body of the roll. Crush/wrinkle damage is also more likely to be found in the body. Damage in trucks is more evenly spaced out, but the center of the truck is where most damage occurs. Other places on the roll where damage is measured are the top and bottom end, and top and bottom edge.

In recent years, almost all categories of damage have been reduced, especially for rail; and for truck transport, it’s almost the same story. For producers, perhaps the most important aspect of preventing damage during shipping is to ensure a tight load, whether by truck or rail.

With a rail car, many variables factor into how tight a load can be: risers, roll diameter, roll loading pattern, and the size of the rail car. Therefore, a shipper needs to look at the load pattern closely to minimize the voids.

Loading guidelines are available from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the QLT (a subset of the AAR) that instruct on proper loading techniques. There are no trucking equivalents, although Furbee says dunnage or friction mats are generally used in truck trailers to ensure there are three points of contact.

The cost of damage to LSC (in pounds) is about US$1.2 million annually, not including the carrier, mill and customer cost associated with managing and handling the damaged paper. Furbee explains that mills with a high percentage of damaged rolls or pounds will undergo additional analyses and will be notified of the transit damage situation, with the objective being to work cohesively within the supply chain to reduce losses.

LSC will “aggressively” target improvements with key mills using the detailed data that LSC collects. Furbee says LSC’s data system has proven to help identify the root cause of transit damage, allowing individual mills to develop best practices and identify key variables that affect the number of rolls and pounds damaged.

Communication is all-important, not just between the printer and paper producer, but also the carriers and customers. By cohesively working together, the cost of transit damage can be reduced.

LSC Transit Damage: Catalog, Magazine, and Retail Facilities (Figure credit: LSC Communications)