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Plastic Pallets

Help your customers maximize pallet ROI.

Increasingly, material handling businesses seeking to reduce transport packaging costs are turning to reusable plastic pallets for shipping platforms. With high reuse and recovery rates provided through internal accountability or third-party logistics companies, the increased ROI of plastic pallets to manufacturing operations and warehousing is now being fully realized. But what can you do to effectively maximize plastic pallet ROI for your material handling customers? Below are three things to consider.

• Determine how many pallets are needed and how soon they are needed. Having a quantity in mind will help determine pricing and whether the pallets need to be manufactured or can be shipped from stock. It also helps to determine if this is a one-time need or if the customer will have additional requirements for pallets on an ongoing basis.

• Determine how the pallets will be used. Plastic pallets are available in many different sizes, configurations and load strengths. Consult the sidebar to get a working knowledge of the most common types. Most often, customers need two kinds of pallets in the warehouse: rackable standard pallets for storage and nestable pallets for transport. Also consider the differences between heavy duty pallets, lightweight bulk pallets and other specialty pallets offered for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and retail and wholesale distribution industries. If automated pallet handling equipment is being used, then plastic pallets are ideal because of their consistent dimensions and weights.

Plastic palletAlso determine if the pallets will be stored on the floor or on racks with full or edge-only support. Knowing the maximum load to be placed on the pallets and whether the loaded pallets will be stacked on top of each other will help determine what type of pallet is best.

• Determine the necessary sizes and features. What size will work for your customer? Plastic pallets come in many different sizes, including 32 in. x 37 in., 36 in. x 48 in., 37 in. x 37 in., 37 in. x 43 in., 40 in. x 40 in., 40 in. x 48 in., 44 in. x 56 in. and 48 in. x 48 in. The 40 in. x 48 in. dimension is most common for storage and transport.

Some customer applications may be conducive to special pallet features such as ergonomic handles, leg grommets, solid tops, two-way versus four-way entry, anti-skid treatments and flame retardance. Will the pallets be subject to refrigerated storage at any point, stacked outside in high temperatures, or stored near any caustic substances or vapors? The UL Classification UL 2335 is given to products with proven fire safety and can be introduced to any warehouse without changing their sprinklers. Companies can now seamlessly switch to flame-retardant plastic pallets that are offered in types and sizes that will satisfy most customers’ needs.

If returning pallets is not possible, as is the case with exports, then cost may not be the only feature to focus on. You may be jeopardizing future sales if you sacrifice strength for price. If you are looking for repeat business, consider the value of the goods being shipped and the handling and support they require all the way to their destination.

A successful plastic pallet sale may hinge on your in-house staff’s ability to effectively determine and communicate which pallet your customer needs. Identifying these key considerations prior to preparing a quotation should greatly improve your success rate in closing plastic pallet sales.

Basic Pallet Terms to Know

Customers aren’t likely to know the correct terminology to describe what they are looking for. Familiarizing them with the terms below will be useful in helping them choose the proper product for their application.

  • Static load capacity – Capacity of a pallet with an evenly distributed load when in a stationary position (i.e., on the floor).
  • Dynamic load capacity – Capacity of a pallet with an evenly distributed load when in motion with pallet moving equipment such as a forklift.
  • Racking load capacity – Capacity of a pallet with an evenly distributed load in an unsupported edge rack. A standard edge rack is two inches on each side.
  • Standard rackable pallet – A pallet designed to be in edge racks containing no middle support and having a fully supported top deck. These are good options for companies looking for a long-lasting shipping pallet or to better utilize warehouse space.
  • Nestable pallet – A high-quality distribution pallet mainly used in grocery supply chains and designed to neatly nest together to save storage space on backhauls or in idle storage. Nestable pallets provide secure, cost-effective, one-way shipping platforms when high load security is a factor.
  • Bulk pallet – Designed for glass, plastic and metal container manufacturers for the canning and filling industry. They are mainly used in conjunction with an equal-sized top frame and slip sheets.
  • Export pallet – Highly nestable pallet designed for low-cost, one-way shipping and made from phyto-sanitary materials that will speed products safely through customs.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Bill Bloch Meet the Author
Bill Bloch is manager of global logistics at Rehrig Pacific Company, located in Los Angeles, California, and on the Web at www.rehrigpacific.com.

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