Recover Wood Costs by Extending Life of Pallets

In the wake of the recent countervailing duty (CVD) Trump has implemented on Canadian lumber, manufacturers are looking to offset the resulting price hike. There are many measures companies can take to cut costs, and some of them are related to lumber itself. There is one specific lumber cost that every manufacturer absorbs, and it’s one that can be minimized: pallet deterioration.

Pallets are only built to withstand so many moves. Every time a forklift or pallet jack lifts a pallet, nails loosen, boards shift, and wood cracks or breaks. The process itself is very damaging to the structure. The softer the wood, the fewer the moves before they need repair or replacing. These are costs that add up, and that’s even truer with the CVD.

Fortunately, you can take action to improve the life of your pallets. Laszlo Horvath, Assistant Professor of Practice and Director of the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design at Virgnia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) speaks to this in his presentations and courses. His advice is based on extensive Virginia tech research. Some of his findings:

  • Using 5-6% more fasteners gives you a 56% improvement in pallet durability
  • A 38% improvement is gained when you butt lead-edge deck boards together
  • Using pallet end protectors like split inhibitors on leading-edge deck board yields a 48% improvement
  • Dense hardwood lasts 38% longer than medium-density hardwood
  • Air-dried material performs 43% better than green

Changes to the pallets themselves aren’t the only means of protecting them. Since moving the pallets is what creates the stress, finding a way to move them less will clearly extend their lifespans. For example, a tug and cart system can replace a lot of forklift activity.

With this method, you load the pallets onto a cart or dolly. Then, rather than picking the loads up for each move, the pallets stay on the cart. An electric tug isn’t always required for this system, but it is the safest and most productive way to move carts full of pallets. When the pallets reach their final destination at your facility, they are then unloaded via forklift. Ideally, this reduces pallet movement from five to ten forklift touches to only two.  Additionally, you free up your lift trucks for vertical movement and reduce the costly wear and tear on them.

The choices in how you choose, stack, move, and protect your pallets will have a significant effect on your overall spending. Working with experts ensures that you’re making the smartest choices for your operation and your budget. Packnet doesn’t just manufacture pallets and other wood containers. We work with companies to provide long-term solutions. We can advise on the best way to protect and handle your pallets to keep them protected from unnecessary stress. Find out how: 952-944-9124, CustomPackagingSolutions@packnetltd.com.