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What is dunnage in trucking?

person thinking about the question what is dunnage

In today’s fast-paced world, the safe and efficient transportation of goods is more crucial than ever. What is dunnage? Dunnage plays a significant role in ensuring the protection and security of products throughout their journey, from manufacturing to the end consumer. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of dunnage across various industries, its many forms, and the benefits it offers, ultimately providing a comprehensive understanding of this crucial aspect of shipping and transportation.

Key Takeaways

  • Dunnage materials are essential for product protection and safety across industries, providing a range of customizable lightweight and cost-efficient solutions.

  • Businesses should consider product types, shipping methods, weight, fragility and potential for damage when selecting dunnage materials to ensure safe transit of their products.

  • Eco-friendly options reduce environmental impact while optimizing shipping performance. Businesses can strive for these sustainable solutions in their packaging process.

  • While it’s important for products to arrive safely and undamaged at their destination, it’s also of paramount importance to keep customers up to date with their delivery so as to reduce shipping anxiety, which can be achieved through realtime updates with WeSupply’s Proactive Shipping notifications, as well as the Branded Tracking Page.


Dunnage is an essential component of shipping and transportation logistics, serving to safeguard goods during transit and stabilize packages to avert damage. With a wide range of materials available, including:

  • Wood

  • Foam

  • Plastic

  • Kraft paper

  • Corrugated options

  • Air pillows

  • Bubble wrap

  • Customized solutions

Dunnage caters to the needs of diverse industries such as shipping, warehousing and storage, manufacturing and production, and trucking.

Brief overview of the significance of dunnage across industries.

Dunnage materials are pivotal in shielding products during transit, providing damage protection, and guaranteeing product safety from the production site to the final consumer. Various types of dunnage materials, including common dunnage materials, are employed to cater to different product and shipping requirements, such as:

  • Wood

  • Metal

  • Plastic

  • Custom dunnage solutions tailored to meet unique needs

Understanding Dunnage: Definition, Purpose, and Evolution

Throughout time, dunnage has progressively adapted to the fluctuating demands of the shipping and transportation sector. From lightweight, inexpensive materials like bubble wrap for small packages to heavier, more expensive materials such as steel for larger cargo, the range of dunnage options has expanded. Shipping agents excel in handling specific packages and can even supply bespoke material tailored for products with distinctive needs and dimensions.

A comprehensive look at what dunnage is and why it’s paramount in shipping and transportation.

Dunnage refers to the protective padding material utilized for safeguarding goods during transport, such as bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and industrial solid plastics. These materials serve to cushion products and packages to ensure their safe arrival. The primary purpose of dunnage is to maintain cargo stability during transit, thus avoiding damage to both the shipment and the container. Floor dunnage, for example, can help protect goods from moisture and contamination.

Beyond protection, damage protection dunnage also carries significance in the shipping industry by:

  • improving air circulation

  • reducing potential transport damage

  • preventing box abrasion

  • ensuring product safety

Selecting appropriate dunnage for particular items and shipping methods is key for a successful, damage-free shipping journey.

Special Spotlight: What is Dunnage in Trucking?

In the trucking industry, dunnage is a term commonly used. It refers to any material which helps to protect and support cargo when it’s being transported by a semi. Materials commonly utilized as dunnage include:

  • Wood

  • Foam

  • Plastic

  • Kraft paper

  • Corrugated options

  • Air pillows

  • Bubble wrap

These packing materials are used to provide protection from damage, absorb shocks, and secure packages during transit.

The use of dunnage in trucking ensures that goods arrive at their destinations undamaged, making it a vital component of the transportation process.

Diving Deep into Dunnage Materials: From Common to Custom

As we dig further into the realm of dunnage materials, we’ll investigate the plethora of options available, including:

  • Wood

  • Foam

  • Plastic

  • Bespoke dunnage solutions designed to accommodate specific needs

Each material comes with its own set of pros and cons, hence it’s crucial to choose suitable dunnage based on the distinct needs of the products in transit.

Wood: Its advantages and common uses.

Wood is a popular dunnage material due to its robust and lightweight nature, and it can be conveniently cut and formed to suit any product. Wooden dunnage is often employed in transportation and logistics industries, where frequent loading and unloading of heavy shipments is necessary.

Wood effectively distributes weight, facilitating the movement and transportation of items while maintaining their protection during transit.

Foam: How it offers protection and its diverse types.

Foam, owing to its lightweight character, shock absorptive properties, and malleability to suit any product, is another frequently employed dunnage material. Foam dunnage is available in various forms, such as:

  • molded styrofoam

  • packing peanuts

  • foam wrap

  • custom foam inserts

These options offer versatile protection for a wide range of products.

This positions foam as a prime choice for safeguarding sensitive items like medical apparatus and electronics during shipment.

Plastic: The role of plastic inserts and solid plastics.

Plastic inserts and solid plastics, being durable and flexible, provide strength and the capacity to protect heavy or sharp items during shipment. These materials are particularly popular in the shipping industry, where they are used to protect valuable or fragile shipments, stack pallets, and shield heavy or sharp objects.

Plastic dunnage offers a budget-friendly and dependable resolution for diverse shipping necessities.

Kraft Paper and Corrugated Options: Eco-friendly and effective.

Kraft paper and corrugated paper, being eco-friendly and effective, provide lightweight, reliable protection for commodities during shipment. These materials, including cardboard boxes, can be used to stabilize bulk bins, bags, and other containers by securely holding items in place and preventing any movement.

Employing kraft paper and corrugated materials in dunnage presents an environmentally friendly and economically viable solution for a broad spectrum of shipping needs.

Air Pillows and Bubble Wrap: Lightweight and efficient.

Air pillows and bubble wrap, being weightless and effective, provide superior protection for fragile and delicate items during shipment. Air pillows provide cushioning and fill any available space in shipping containers, preventing items from shifting during transit.

Similarly, bubble wrap is a widely-used method for shipping delicate items and can be recycled so long as the bubbles remain intact. These materials are perfect for offering budget-friendly and dependable protection for a wide array of products.

Customized Dunnage Solutions: Tailored to meet unique needs.

Customized dunnage solutions are crafted to cater to specific necessities, providing protection and stability for packages in transit. These solutions can include custom foam inserts, engineered plastic dunnage, and customized pallets and crates, which provide tailored protection for fragile materials of specific dimensions.

By choosing customized dunnage solutions, enterprises can secure the safe arrival of their products, irrespective of their unique demands.

The Multi-Faceted Benefits of Dunnage

Dunnage materials, including dunnage bags, offer a range of benefits that extend beyond their primary function of protecting and securing products during transit. These advantages can lead to cost reductions for businesses via lowered repair and replacement expenses, and enhanced safety by reducing the risk of accidents due to falling or shifting cargo.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve into some of the diverse benefits of dunnage in greater detail.

Protection from Damage: Ensuring product safety during transit.

A principal advantage of dunnage is its capability to shield products from harm during shipping and transportation. By cushioning the items and restraining their movement, dunnage helps prevent scratches, dents, and other forms of damage.

Such protection holds particular significance for delicate items, like electronics, medical equipment, and glassware, which necessitate extra caution during transit.

Absorbing Shocks: Minimizing impacts from various challenges.

Another significant benefit of dunnage is its ability to absorb shocks and reduce impacts during shipping. By providing cushioning and security, dunnage materials help prevent damage to products caused by movement, vibration, and impact during transportation.

This shock absorption is particularly critical for sensitive items, prone to damage even from minor impacts.

Securing Packages: Stability during the shipping journey.

Dunnage materials also play a key role in securing packages during the shipping process, ensuring product stability and positioning throughout transportation. By offering cushioning and support, dunnage helps prevent packages from shifting or becoming dislodged, resulting in a safer and more efficient shipping process.

Fewer Product Returns & Exchanges: Lower Return Rate

Proper dunnage can help prevent items from being damaged in transit, leading to a reduction in your return rate. Nonetheless, if customers do end up returning your products, you can make use of an optimized post-purchase solution like WeSupply, with a dedicated Self-Service Returns & Exchanges center that can be used to streamline the returns process and keep customers satisfied with your brand.

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Dunnage Across the Spectrum: Applications in Diverse Industries

Across diverse industries, dunnage holds a pivotal role in shielding and anchoring products during shipping and transportation. It is used in various sectors, including:

  • Cargo ships

  • E-commerce packages

  • Warehousing and storage

  • Manufacturing and production

  • Trucking

Dunnage materials are integral to ensuring the safe delivery of goods to their final destinations.

In this segment, we’ll delineate a few specific applications of dunnage across these varied sectors.

Shipping Industry: From cargo ships to e-commerce packages.

In the shipping industry, dunnage materials are crucial for protecting cargo from damage, absorbing shocks, and securing packages during transit. Shipping agents utilize a variety of dunnage materials, including wood, foam, plastic, kraft paper, corrugated options, air pillows, and bubble wrap, to cater to the unique needs of different shipping methods and product types.

By securing the safe transit of goods, dunnage enhances the efficiency and dependability of the shipping industry.

Warehousing and Storage: Importance in inventory management.

Utilizing dunnage in warehousing and storage is vital for sustaining inventory management and safeguarding stored goods. Dunnage materials provide a protective barrier between products and potential contaminants or hazards, ensuring that items remain in optimal condition while in storage.

Moreover, proper dunnage can aid in enhancing air circulation and staving off damage instigated by moisture or shifting.

Manufacturing and Production: Ensuring product integrity from creation to delivery.

In manufacturing and production, dunnage materials are crucial for maintaining product integrity from inception to delivery. By providing protection from damage, absorbing shocks, and securing packages, dunnage helps guarantee that products arrive at their destinations in perfect condition, safeguarding a company’s reputation and preventing customer dissatisfaction.

Trucking: Special focus on how dunnage plays a role in transportation.

In the trucking industry, dunnage holds an important role in safeguarding and supporting cargo during transit. Utilizing materials such as:

  • wood

  • foam

  • plastic

  • kraft paper

  • corrugated options

  • air pillows

  • bubble wrap

Dunnage helps to ensure that goods arrive at their destinations undamaged, making it an indispensable part of the transportation process.

Customized Dunnage: Meeting Specific Needs

For products with distinctive dimensions or specific shipping needs, customized dunnage solutions can offer personalized protection and stability during transit. These custom solutions, such as custom foam inserts, engineered plastic dunnage, and customized pallets and crates, ensure that even the most fragile or uniquely shaped items are safely delivered to their destinations.

Custom Foam Inserts: Enhancing protection for fragile items.

Custom foam inserts are an ideal dunnage solution for safeguarding delicate items during shipping and transportation. These inserts provide:

  • Optimal protection

  • Cost-efficiency

  • Adaptability

  • Customization capabilities

  • Lightweight structure that reduces shipping costs.

By utilizing custom foam inserts, businesses can ensure the safe and secure transit of fragile items, like medical equipment, electronics, and glassware.

Engineered Plastic Dunnage: Robust solutions for industrial needs.

Engineered plastic dunnage provides a sturdy solution for industrial shipping needs. It offers the following benefits:

  • Cost-effectiveness

  • Resilience

  • Resistance to water and chemicals

  • Customizable options

  • Recyclability

  • Reduced carbon footprint

Its lightweight nature and ease of sanitation make engineered plastic dunnage a suitable choice for various industrial applications, ensuring the safe transport of heavy or sharp items.

Customized Pallets and Crates: Tailored structures for shipping.

Customized pallets and crates are tailored structures designed for shipping and transportation purposes, providing protection and stability for packages during transit. They are constructed from multiple materials, including:

  • Wood

  • Foam

  • Plastic

  • Kraft paper

  • Corrugated options

These customized structures can be tailored to fulfill individual requirements and ensure the safe delivery of goods.

Eco-conscious Choices: Reusability and Sustainability of Dunnage Materials

As businesses grow more environmentally aware, the emphasis on eco-friendly dunnage materials is escalating. By adopting sustainable, reusable, and recyclable packaging materials, companies can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute positively to the environment.

The journey towards eco-friendly shipping and packaging.

The path towards eco-friendly shipping and packaging is a continual process demanding the assessment of the pros and cons of each alternative. Many eco-friendly dunnage alternatives are available, such as:

  • Biodegradable packaging peanuts

  • Corrugated bubble wrap

  • Air pillows made from recycled content

  • Recycled cardboard and paper

By considering these options and their respective advantages, businesses can balance their environmental impact with the need for efficient, cost-effective shipping solutions.

Additionally, WeSupply’s Printerless Returns feature provides customers with QR code-based shipping labels, bypassing the conventional PDF labels. By doing so, this innovative feature promotes eco-friendly practices by reducing paper usage and ink consumption, contributing to a greener and more sustainable environment.

Navigating Dunnage Choices: Tips for Optimal Selection

Choosing the appropriate dunnage material for specific shipping necessities can be an intimidating task, given the vast array of options available. To make the best choice, it’s essential to consider various factors, such as:

  • Product types

  • Shipping methods

  • Weight

  • Fragility

  • Potential for damage

Factors to consider based on product types, shipping methods, and more.

When selecting suitable dunnage for particular needs, factors such as product types, shipping methods, weight, fragility, and potential for damage should be considered. Different products necessitate varying degrees of protection and cushioning, so understanding the unique requirements of each item is crucial in selecting the right dunnage materials.

By taking these factors into account, businesses can guarantee the safe and efficient transit of their products, irrespective of their distinct shipping requirements.


Throughout this blog post, we’ve examined the crucial role of dunnage across multiple industries and its changing landscape in shipping and transportation. From common materials like wood, foam, and plastic, to custom dunnage solutions tailored to meet unique needs, dunnage materials provide essential protection and security for products during transit.

By grasping the advantages and uses of dunnage, businesses can make knowledgeable decisions about their shipping and packaging needs, ultimately leading to a more efficient, economical, and eco-friendly shipping process.

Reflecting on the vital role of dunnage across industries and its evolving landscape.

Reflecting on the critical role of dunnage across industries, it’s evident that these materials are indispensable for guaranteeing the safe and proficient transit of goods. Dunnage materials contribute to the protection and stability of products throughout their journey in various industries, including:

  • Shipping industry

  • Warehousing and storage

  • Manufacturing and production

  • Trucking

By embracing environmentally friendly dunnage solutions and taking into account factors like product types, shipping methods, and potential for damage, businesses can both lessen their environmental impact and enhance their overall shipping efficiency.


In conclusion, dunnage materials play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of goods across various industries. With a wide array of options available, including common materials like wood, foam, and plastic, as well as custom dunnage solutions tailored to meet unique needs, businesses can make informed decisions about their shipping and packaging requirements. By considering factors like product types, shipping methods, weight, fragility, and potential for damage, businesses can balance their environmental impact with the need for efficient, cost-effective shipping solutions.

Ensuring products reach their destination undamaged is vital, but so is updating customers about their delivery. WeSupply’s Proactive Shipping notifications and Branded Tracking Page help reduce shipping anxiety with real-time updates.

Fully customizable Branded Tracking page and Email Notifications

Book a quick call with our experts to see how WeSupply can help you tell your brand story, promote new categories or showcase your latest sale.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of dunnage?

Dunnage is a durable padding material used to protect goods during shipping, absorbing sound and vibration and providing cushioning so items stay put. It can be anything from bubble wrap and packing peanuts, to industrial solid plastics, depending on the nature of the cargo being transported.

Are pallets considered dunnage?

Yes, pallets are considered dunnage since they are a form of reusable material that can be used multiple times to stabilize and facilitate drayage of materials by forklift.

What is a dunnage in construction?

Dunnage in construction is typically scrap wood or manufactured material used to raise materials and allow access for forklifts and slings, as well as to protect them from the elements. It is often tied into cross beams or roof trusses for structurally sound support of large and expensive items.

What are some common dunnage materials used in various industries?

Common dunnage materials used in various industries include wood, foam, plastic, kraft paper, corrugated options, air pillows, and bubble wrap.

What are the benefits of using foam dunnage?

Using foam dunnage for shipping packages provides valuable protection from damage, absorbs shocks during transit, and ensures packages remain secure.

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