Case Studies: Pallets for Wet Pulp and Newspaper Distribution




Despite the advances of digital technology paper consumption is rising. According to the Daily Mail, global consumption of paper in recent years has increased by almost half since 1980.

Sanitary products, such as toilet tissue and paper towels, account for much of the growth with tissue consumption reporting a rise of four per cent in 2013. There are some areas however that are witnessing a steady decline, including newsprint, which saw a four per cent decrease in paper consumption this same year.

Although there are a few exceptions, on the whole paper production in the UK continues to thrive with us producing a staggering 4.4 million tonnes of paper and board last year. has been supplying businesses in the paper and board industry with plastic pallets for more than seven years, from paper mills to publishers. The industry’s diverse requirements call for customised pallet solutions – pallets that are suitable for use in highly sophisticated handling systems, from rotating forks to fully automated palletisers.

Safely transporting wet-lap pulp

In 2008, M-real Office Papers approached looking for a solution for transporting its recycled wet-lap pulp. The company, which was then manufacturing 550,000 tonnes of office paper every year, needed help moving the pulp from its Kemsley paper mill in Kent to its paper mill near Rouen in Normandy, and then returning the recycled office paper to the UK.

Wet-lap pulp is transported at about 50 per cent moisture content. The recycled matter is stacked in large bales measuring approximately 1400mm (L) x 1200mm (W) x 1200mm (H) and weighs a hefty 1.3 tonnes. M-real therefore needed a pallet that offered optimum strength and could fit the specific bale dimensions.

Initially, M-real was interested in sourcing a made-to-measure pallet. While bespoke pallets offer the advantage of being designed to suit individual requirements, on small orders they can often prove more costly. Following consultation with the technical team, designing a made-to-measure pallet was ruled out on the basis of high moulding costs and instead looked at suitable models from existing offerings.

The plastic pallet recommended was the APB 1420 Full Perimeter pallet, which measures 1420mm x 1120mm and is produced by Cabka-IPS. Although the width of the pulp bales exceeded the width of the pallet, M-real was able to slice the bales at any width, making this pallet fit for purpose.

Manufactured in high-density polyethylene, the APB 1420 Full Perimeter pallet has a low-pressure injection moulded construction that provides strength, close tolerance, dimensional consistency and stability.

Whilst recommended this pallet primarily for its size and durability, another important criteria in transporting wet-lap pulp is being able to record batch production for quality control purposes. With recessed areas for UPC barcoding on all four corners, the APB 1420 Full Perimeter pallet allows users to quickly identify any batch of wet-lap pulp.

One problem in handling the wet-lap pulp was the tipping process. When offloading wet-lap pulp, the pallets are lifted on rotating forks and tipped to remove the recycled matter. This tipping process together with the weight and consistency of the wet-lap pulp applies considerable stress on the pallets. As a solution, during the manufacturing process we incorporated a specially moulded section inside the pallets, to strengthen the design and offer further reinforcement to withstand manual handling.

In early 2008, M-real ordered 4,500 pallets, which we delivered efficiently during a two-week period. The operation was so successful that they then placed two further orders totalling 1,400 pallets.

Later that same year, the Kemsley paper mill was sold, however the new owners continue to use the same plastic pallets and have ordered a further 6,500 new ones to help increase production.