The important role of dunnage in manufacturing

Have a question about something? You can usually find the answer on Wikipedia, which provides factual information for a great many topics . . . except when it doesn’t. Take for example this opening sentence on the dunnage page:

“Dunnage is inexpensive or waste material used to load and secure cargo during transportation; more loosely, it refers to miscellaneous baggage, brought along during travel.”

This definition doesn’t give you any idea whatsoever on the important role dunnage plays with regard to manufacturing.

Where and how dunnage is used

For our purposes, dunnage has many uses and is used in many types of industries. Some of the ways in which it’s used include:


When transporting by ship, rail or truck, manufacturers will use dunnage to protect heavy-duty or fragile parts, such as engines and transmissions or windshields and body panels. The dunnage holds the part in place, absorbs vibration, and protects the part – thus significantly reducing breakage and damage while in transit.


As parts arrive from suppliers, they’re transferred from receiving to the manufacturing line. Again, manufacturers use dunnage, such as trays or plastic pallets, to shield parts from damage during transfer.


Factory automation systems, with their huge gantry robotic arms, can harm a human. By using dunnage – or what’s referred to as fixtures, jigs, and kitting – manufacturers can ensure parts are precisely placed by the robot without having to put a human in danger.

Ok, so we’ve covered a few areas of where dunnage is used, but what exactly is dunnage? Good question!


This is dunnage.

Urethane bumpers

And this is dunnage.

And these parts are dunnage, too.

Spongy, flexible or rigid: Urethane solves many dunnage challenges

Manufacturers turn to urethane for their dunnage needs because urethane resin can be blended to match the performance characteristics required of the dunnage.

For example, a rigid urethane material is ideal for dunnage requiring exceptional load bearing capacity and wear resistance, while another application requiring “give” needs a softer or more compressible urethane.

To meet these application needs — and often, to solve challenges that leave others scratching their heads — we work with customers to find solutions that save time and money and improve performance.

Some of these solutions involve developing custom formulations or incorporating additives that change the physical properties of the urethane – such as making it:

Dissipate static

Harder or softer

Spongy or rigid


Grippy? Yes, grippy. That’s the beauty of urethane.

So there you have it – dunnage explained. Be sure to read the next article, “Types and Usage of Dunnage.”

Have a question about a dunnage application or urethane dunnage in particular? Give us a call — we’ll answer any question you have.