Better Pallet Care Pays Dividends – Pallet Asset Management

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Worker remanufacturing a pallet

Wooden pallet companies in Atlanta, Georgia and Tampa, Florida where much of the warehousing and logistic transport business in the Southeastern United States passes through, know the benefits of proper pallet care and management.

The wooden or plastic pallets that structurally hold the cargo and stock material in warehouses, trucks, and various transportation mediums is often times overlooked as just another item that is part of the supply chain of storage and manufacturing, however these pallets are an asset and should be treated accordingly like any other investment that is a critical part of your business. A damaged pallet can be costly to your operation not only in the process of repairing the pallet but also the goods that can be damaged as a result of the pallet not functioning safely or properly. Skip Miller, who is VP for a wooden pallet pool, stated, “Even if it’s not damaged at the same time the pallet is, it’s (products) more susceptible to damage during the rest of the trip through the supply chain.” Minor damage can impair or compromise a pallet which can cause later damage to the products it is carrying.

Miller addresses some of the ways that pallets can be protected by its users, namely energy absorbing bumpers that are part of the forklift attachments which can lessen the shock of impact that creates fissures or fractures in the pallets from constant loading and movement. This product is like the Blue Guardian or Product Protector. Another product called PointGuard, protects the ends of the pallets with a plastic shield which screws onto the pallet itself.

To begin with, choosing better pallets and incorporating a training regimen for the employees is also a good practice. For endurance, choosing a better pallet can be challenging in and of itself. The NWPCA (National Wooden Pallet and Container Association) puts out standards for the pallet industry and these quality guidelines can be found there when purchasing them. Block strength is one of the important criteria to notice which supports the pallet when forklift drivers or jack operators hit the pallet blocks. These blocks can be reinforced which can enhance the life of a pallet significantly. Plastic pallets are challenged in this regard since the reinforcement is not as easy. There are experiments that are being conducted now with plastic pallet manufacturers to include an outer shell and an inner shaft, however, the shaft can create an imbalance that once again can cause structural damage to the pallet and ultimately the goods. Some of the plastic pallets also might have a snap on feature and depending upon where they snap, can affect the sturdiness of the pallet. A middle snap feature is less sturdy than an outer one.

Nails are important since they represent 5 percent of the cost of the pallet but are fifty percent of the strength of it. With wooden pallets, these are vital. Another factor that aids the pallet’s durability is the strength of the leaderboards, which are one or two boards located at the front of pallet’s entryway. These should be six inches wide and made of hardwood. Beveled entryways are also something that allows for more flexibility with the impact of a forklift versus a squared one.

A comprehensive analysis should be consulted with a good pallet company that can decipher what strength, size, and construct of pallet should be used for what applications. Depending if the pallet is to be stacked or placed on a floor, the weight and size all come into play. A wooden pallet company should have professionals that can walk you through the particulars that will save you time and money and ensure that the right pallet choices are made. Unit load design factors must be understood and purchasers of pallets need to understand what the needs are. Pallet handling and education of all parties involved is also important. Training of forklift operators and employees can save the wear and tear of pallets and preserve costs and damage to materials, pallets, and people. The supply chain process is complex but it all starts with a good understanding and investment in a sturdy and reliable pallet.