Back in 2006 when EPAL was first introduced to Asia at The Transport & Logistics trade fair in Shanghai in 2006, the EPAL Euro pallet was an unknown solution to most Chinese industry specialists. EPAL followed up in 2008 with the opening of its first office in Shanghai.
The first pallet production licences were also issued that same year. By the end of 2014 a total of 26 licensees in China had been granted, and the number continues to increase. Elsewhere in China, EPAL Euro pallets are also being produced and used in South Korea as well as Indonesia. As in Europe, quality assurance of the EPAL Euro pallets is guaranteed by the independent inspection company, Bureau Veritas.
Representing EPAL in Asia is An Xiaowei, who has managed the EPAL office in Shanghai since 2008. EPAL attributes her “specialist knowledge and highly professional approach” as a key component of EPAL’s success in China. An Xiaowei helped raise awareness about EPAL as a result of guest speaking appearances in 2014, which included the annual meeting of the Asian Pallet System Federation (APSF) in Bangkok and at the annual pallet meeting of the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing (CFLP). She also traveled to Japan to attend the Japanese Domestic Logistics Fair and she spoke at the Asia Seamless Logistics Forum.
According to EPAL, the Asian market is familiar with a range of pallet designs and materials, which are influenced by nation of origin and destination. Case in point, Japan predominantly utilizes 1100 x 1100 mm wooden pallets, which is also one of the two major Chinese pallet footprints. EPAL Euro pallets are still little known in Japan, but they are imported from South Korea or enter the country via imports from Europe.
In this regard, EPAL intends to work more closely with the Japanese Pallet Association (JPA). Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia have different infrastructures and market structures which use different load carriers. Pallets are already being produced and repaired under EPAL licence in South Korea and Indonesia. However, there are no other influential Asian standards for the production and repair of pallets in place, and there are few local pooling systems.
As for China, approximately 80 percent of pallets are wood, featuring two predominant footprints in accordance with National Pallet Standard Dimensions): 1200 x 1000 mm and 1100x 1100 mm. China has the largest pallet market in Asia, with 800 million pallets used in 2013. EPAL Euro pallets are becoming an increasingly popular solution in China. The Chinese production of EPAL pallets grew by almost 50 percent between 2013 and 2014.
One noteworthy accomplishment is the China Pallet Handbook, originally published by the CFLP (China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing) in 2010, providing a means of communicating important aspects of the quality-assured EPAL Euro pallets to the Chinese logistics market. Martin Leibrandt, CEO of the European Pallet Association e. V. (EPAL), contributed significantly to the latest, updated edition.
The next step in EPAL’s Chinese expansion will be to raise the quality and reliability of used EPAL Euro pallets in the open pallet pool through such steps as:
- Intensive exchange of information and training of the licensees and users with regard to the quality features of the EPAL pallets.
- Increase the number of licensed repair operations for the quality assurance of used EPAL pallets.
EPAL plans to step up the level of collaboration with the APSF umbrella association and associated logistics associations. Additionally, a top-level talk among the CEOs is planned in 2015.