Protecting Flexible Packaging Rolls with Custom Steel Rack

To protect product quality and longevity, the food, beverage, and personal care industries rely on flexible paper-, foil-, or plastic-based packaging. However, before printing and converting into myriad finished packaging sizes, massive full or partial rolls of materials often must be stored for extended periods without any creasing, crimping, or damage that could compromise product integrity or branding.

Although some in the industry rest the heavy rolls of packaging materials on wood frames prior to use, this can cause compression damage and is not conducive to stacking.

“The challenge is that flexible paper, foil, or plastic rolls can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds with 60-inch diameters and 72-inch lengths. So, setting a heavy roll down on any surface can leave an imprint or deform it, compromising quality and potentially making some of it unusable,” says Craig Heil, a manager at Steel King Industries, a leading manufacturer of storage rack, shipping rack, and material handling products since 1970.


The ideal solution would be to hang each roll using a steel rack and insert an integrated, supportive steel mandrel through its core. This arrangement enables safe storage and transfer of the roll by forklift to the production line.

Now, a growing number of flexible packaging industry professionals, converters, and OEMs are turning to what is becoming an industry best practice: a custom steel rack that not only ensures roll integrity during storage, but also facilitates safe conveyance by forklift to printing or converting areas while optimizing storage density.

custom engineered storage and material
Custom engineered storage and material handling racks can better protect high profile wrapper products while requiring less space.

“The heavy-duty rack facilitates hanging and supporting each roll through its core with a sturdy steel mandrel that eliminates the compression damage of placing the material on a surface. The rack and mandrel are tailored for each roll’s specific size and weight, and some are designed to accommodate several partial rolls. Additionally, the rack can be designed to maximize storage density by enabling stacking,” says Heil.

For years, domestic providers of flexible packaging have contracted Steel King for custom steel shipping racks to store and move rolls. The company specializes in the design and production of a variety of fabricated steel material handling products including storage racks and multi-use rigid, collapsible, and adjustable shipping racks.

Working with a storage and material handling specialist, mills can customize rack size, weight capacity, construction materials, and other factors. CAD solid modeling software and techniques are used to design the steel racks and mandrels. The company’s in-house engineers are experts at analyzing OEMs’ operational systems and processes relative to the type and size of the rolls.


According to Heil, design configurations can be requested to tailor the racks to a specific manufacturer’s products and industry.

“To optimize storage capacity, companies often want stackable racks, or racks that can hold single or multiple partial rolls. To promote safety when using forklifts, some like fork tubes, fork stirrups, or steel u-shaped straps welded to the bottom of the rack,” says Heil.

He explains that the design depends on the type and shape of the mandrel they are using to hang the roll and whether the rack will be stacked or not. “A lot depends on the roll’s size and weight, which really is the biggest factor in how each rack is designed,” he says.

Although the packaging, converter, and manufacturing industries have tolerated some paper, foil, or plastic roll damage as a cost of doing business, using custom engineered storage and material handling racks can better protect high profile wrapper products while requiring less space. Industry professionals that adopt this best practice technique can substantially improve the integrity of their product and brand as well as the efficiency and safety of their storage and material handling.

About Leslee Masters