Making Pallets a Supply Chain Asset Instead of an Unrecoverable Cost

With another pharmaceutical recall in the news and opinion from the manufacturer that the smell “is thought” to be related to wood pallets and TBA, iGPS has posted the following article at

Recent product contamination incidents are highlighting the importance of having reliably clean pallets for warehousing and shipping

The typical supply chain process in pharmaceuticals goes something like this:

• Ingredients/materials/packaging from suppliers are shipped into a production facility on wood pallets
• The goods are removed from the pallets to enter the manufacturing process, then often wind up on plastic or metal pallets as they become packaged products
• The packaged products are then loaded back onto wood pallets
• The wood pallets are shipped out, typically never to be seen again.

Changing from wood to plastic or metal back to wood obviously adds time, labor and expense to the supply chain. Not only is it more labor-intensive, the manufacturer has to invest in two separate assets: wood pallets and plastic or metal pallets. One asset—the one-way wood pallets the finished products ship on—is an unrecoverable expense. However, Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) dictates that the presence of wood—especially chemically treated wood—should be minimized inside a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. Therefore, using wood pallets upstream is problematic. Most major pharmaceutical companies, when they use wood pallets, specify new or once-through pallets to avoid risks of contamination from pallets that were used elsewhere.

Read the complete story at

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