It’s just a pallet; or is it? Part II of II

August 14th, 2013

Aren’t pallets all the same; other than size and shape, what makes them different and should I own or pool (use a managed service)?

Today’s post is Part II by Dennis Nicoletti, Manager Customer Service at SafeSourcing, Inc.  
 
Use of Pallets: While pallets and palletization were once considered to be powerful components of material handling strategy, today, industry takes the practice largely for granted.  When the palletization concept was first introduced, however, it had a dramatic impact on the improvement of material handling efficiency. Rail cars, for example, that had taken two days to unload could subsequently be unloaded in just one or two hours.  Palletized products can be moved more quickly than by the manual handling of individual palletized cartons.

Benefits of this quicker handling include:

  •   Faster turnaround of delivery vehicle and increasing operational efficiency of transport equipment
  •   Dramatically reduced labor requirement versus manual handling
  •   Reduced risk of temperature abuse for perishable products on unrefrigerated docks
  •   With less manual handling there is less risk of product damage and reduced risk of worker injury. Palletized products can be moved more efficiently and stored more efficiently in warehouses and customers often prefer the receipt of palletized goods.
  •   Pallets provide drainage and circulation for commodities requiring this, including fresh produce.

Grades of pallets: The GMA (Grocery Manufacturer Association) has determined the standard in which pallets are graded and thus is broken into four (4) different categories. Each category is a guideline to use when buying or selling pallets. The problem is that each category is open for interpretation and it’s important to verify exactly what you’re getting. Each category will have a price range and the price range will vary from region to region. The price will also vary based on the amount of available reconditioned pallets. Below are the four (4) different grading categories and their corresponding condition.

  •   Premium – A very clean pallet that has probably been used only a few times. There is little if any repairs to the pallet. The pallet will have no plates and no companion stringers.
  •   Grade #1 or A Grade – Typically this pallet has been repaired to close to its original condition. Broken stringers may have been replaced or repaired with metal plates. All damaged deck boards are replaced. This is a fairly clean pallet that is structurally sound.
  •   Grade #2 or B Grade – Typically this pallet has had stringer damage that has been repaired by attaching an additional stringer alongside the damaged one. This is commonly referred to as a companion stringer, block stringer and double stringer. The “B” grade pallets usually have two (2) or less repaired stringers. The deck configuration on the “B” grade pallet is not always consistent because these pallets have been repaired many times.
  •   Grade #3 or C Grade – Typically this pallet has been repaired numerous times. Most of the stringers on a “C” grade pallet will have companion stringers. The deck boards will be inconsistent in size, spacing and thickness. These pallets are usually in very poor condition and are accepted by few companies.

Owned vs Pool pallets: Many companies choose to buy their own fleet of pallets, but this is not always the best or most efficient thing to do.  What you need to consider…

Owning:

  •   Cost: Depending on the amount of goods a company needs to transport, it can be very expensive to buy and upgrade a pallet fleet.
  •   Management and tracking: Managing and tracking a rental fleet can be very hard work, if mismanaged, it can create huge problems if goods cannot be transported when needed.
  •   Maintenance and cleaning: Once purchased, pallets will need to be continually repaired and cleaned in between usage, requiring the manpower, space and equipment to do this.
  •   Storage: When not in use, pallets can take up a lot of space, which is inefficient and costly.
  •   Fleet fluctuations: If a company suddenly has an increased order, or an order that requires a special type of pallet, then buying them just for these rare occasions is wasteful, as the rest of the time the overflow will just be gathering dust in storage

Pooling:

  •   Flexible: You can rent as many or as few pallets as you need for each specific shipment, meaning you’re never over or under stretch with your pallet fleet.
  •   Management and tracking: The pooling company can use their own specialist up-to-date management and tracking systems meaning you doesn’t have to worry about it.
  •   Cleaning and maintenance: After each hire, the pallets will be inspected, repaired and cleaned by the pallet pooling company, before they are sent out again.  This means that you don’t need to worry at all about the expense of doing this yourself, and you know all the pallets will be up to standard before each use.
  •   Storage: Once you’ve finished with the pallets you just need to hand them back to the pooling company with no need to set aside valuable space to store them.

As you see there are many things to consider before buying or pooling pallets in your business. Should you own pallets or use a service to manage them? What type of pallet do you really need? We at SafeSourcing are ready to help you through all the questions and help you lower your procurement costs.  For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments

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