Composite pallets offer a myriad of benefits but also come at a high upfront cost--until now.
What is the big deal? It is just a pallet…
Okay I get it. It is a piece of wood, plastic or metal that you put items on and send out the door or store in a rack somewhere. Most people don’t really think much about it, because they have more important things to worry about then a pallet. I mean really what is the big deal? It is just a pallet.
That question and mindset seems to be common. A simple reply is the time-tested saying, “You are only as strong as your weakest link”. Everything from dog food to a Rolls Royce engine touches a pallet at one time. Companies invest heavily on staff, machinery and automation to create highly efficient processes to get goods to the market, however they overlook a keystone item, the pallet. This oversight, usually with great affect to efficiency, ends up costing big. That is why pallets are a big deal… They can cost you time and money!
Pallets in General
In general, the standard pallet is 48”x 40” with a rackable max load of 2,800 lbs. In recent years, there's also been a shift from “stringer” to “block” style pallet. Block pallets are proven to be safer, hold more weight and more durable. There are three common types of pallets: wood, plastic and metal, all with their own set of pros and cons.
Wood pallets have withstood the test of time. There is a reason that wood consists of 90% of the pallet market. They are cheap, somewhat reusable, and disposable; making this application the best "bang for the buck." Or is it? With the advancements in highly automated distribution centers, wood pallets are prone to causing damage to conveyor, equipment, product, and employees. While the cost may be low upfront, the hidden costs of wood pallets can offset the benefits they may bring.
- Synopsis: Great upfront cost, but will cost you a lot in the end.
- Pros: Upfront cost is less; strong.
- Cons: Will not last very long; prone to damage causing personal injuries or product damage; prone to get caught up on conveyors, pallet dispensers, and cause chaos in highly automated facilities. Costly to own and maintain; need to fumigate or heat treat to send internationally.
Plastic pallets have been around for over 50 years and offer several benefits over wood pallets including increased stiffness, reduced weight, no need for fumigation, and improved sanitation for food environments.
However, plastic pallets suffer from a higher price on top of quality issues. Plastic pallets are prone to deformation or creep when not treated properly, which can cause more headaches and damage to shipments.
- Synopsis: High upfront cost; improved durability over wood.
- Pros: Clean; will not splinter or cause product damage; can wash down; ready to ship internationally.
- Cons: Upfront cost is several times more than wood; will not hold as much weight (without reinforcement adding extra costs); deformation or creeping causing issues with conveyors or automation; tends to be slick when wet; cannot repair; theft due to scrap pricing.
Metal pallets are the better of the three primary pallet types in terms of strength and reusability. However, the cost of a metal pallet is only viable for closed-loop supply chain operations. The cost of metal pallets is the most expensive out of the three major types.
- Synopsis: Works very well but is very costly.
- Pros: Can hold substantial amounts of weight; will not splinter; genelly will not deform.
- Cons: Upfront cost is very high; sharp edges are possible.
Can you really have the best of all worlds? With the latest advancements in composite materials, composite pallets have received a complete design overhaul and offer a lot of benefits.
- Synopsis: The best of all worlds - high strength, cost effective, reusable
- Pros: Can hold substantial amounts of weight; will not splinter; will not deform, do not need to fumigate
- Cons: Not as cheap as wood
Time for a Change
Let’s be honest, pallets as a whole have not changed that much. The industry several years ago added plastic and metal to the mix, and a few companies introduced composite pallets. However, they all seem to miss the mark. The number one reason why people buy pallets is price. With all this modern technology, the industry still does not have a low-cost solution that solves all the “cons” of the current pallet offerings….until now.
Bastian Solutions, a leader in systems integration, has answered the call by engineering a fiber-reinforced, lightweight composite pallet
meant to compete directly with a wood block pallet in strength and cost and match the benefits of plastic in cleanliness and reusability, while seamlessly integrating with highly automated systems. This is the ROGUE Composite Pallet
. ROGUE combines all the pros and removes all the cons of standard pallet offerings, giving you strength, affordability, durability and cleanliness.
Ready to learn more? Visit us at MODEX booth B4169
, April 9-12, in Atlanta, GA, to see Rogue Composite Pallets in person. Or, contact us
to learn about opportunities for a pilot program.
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