Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Wooden Pallets Can Cause Problems in an Automated Supply Chain Operation

It Seems in Some Cases if You Want to Be Environmental - Go Plastic
Shipping News Feature

UK – Just as the Bronze and Iron Ages before it, we are living now in the Plastic Age, and most of the publicity currently is all negative as the material seeps its way into the very fabric of the planet. There may be however some reasons to welcome the controversial product into the supply chain, and one British company puts up a spirited argument in favour of the plastic versions of the ubiquitous pallet which every logistics outfit, and many other industries, are familiar with.

The onset of automation throughout much of industry has thrown up several unforeseen problems, not least of which is the inability of the new technology to handle wooden pallets which may have problems. In a recent study from Virginia Tech University based on an industrial survey, more than half of the 259 respondents admitted to pallet-related issues with automated equipment occurring on a daily or weekly basis, largely as a result of poor quality or damaged wooden pallets. Commenting on the Virginia study Jim Hardisty, Managing Director for Goplasticpallets.com, said:

“When companies are looking to invest in automated equipment, pallets are often the last thing they consider. As pallet quality can have such a major impact on operational efficiency in automated handling scenarios, it’s crucial that pallets are considered much earlier on in the purchase process.”

Plastic pallets remove the reliability on wood, and these days are 100% recyclable, with companies such as Associated Pallets often offering a collection and replacement service. According to Goplasticpallets.com a wooden Euro pallet is approximately a third cheaper than one of its plastic Euro E7’s, however taking into account the long service life of the plastic pallet and low follow on costs, in the mid to long term companies can achieve significant savings.

These include lower transport costs thanks to its net weight of just 16kg, lower repackaging costs, lower cleaning costs thanks to the pallets easy-to-clean hygienic surfaces and less process downtime. In addition, like all of Goplasticpallets.com’s plastic pallets, the Euro E7 pallet retains its material value at the end of its operational life, when it can then be 100% recycled and turned into a new, long life pallet.

The Euro E7 pallet has, as might be expected, the exact dimensions of a wooden Euro-pallet, avoiding integration issues and meaning it can run in a conveyor system parallel to existing wooden pallets without any need for adjustment, equally, it can also be used as a shuttle for any defective wooden pallets. It comes on three runners with steel bars in the deck for enhanced strength and stability, even with the heaviest loads. When static the pallet can bear a tremendous five tonnes, whilst on the move it can support 1500kg and 1250kg in racking.

Red anti-slip strips and stoppers are a standard feature of the plastic Euro E7 pallet, but there are also several options to customise the pallet to suit different applications. Up to seven optional steel supports in a range of profile thicknesses make it possible to customise the load-bearing capacity of the pallet. RFID tags can also be added for more accurate tracking and transparency and larger orders give the option to include a company name or logo.

Photo: Over 80% of Associated Pallets plastic pallets are produced from recycled materials.