Will Rackable Pallets Be Irrelevant? Polymer Logistics Launches Nestable Plastic Pallet Pool, Offers Incentives to Participants to Facilitate Necessary Racking System Upgrades
Updated July 3, 2015
Over half a century ago, says Gideon Feiner, CEO of Polymer Logistics, early wood pallets were a brilliant innovation, except for one problem. The wood blocks attached under the top deck of those early loading platforms were fragile, and could easily break off or the pallet could collapse. In response to this issue, pallets needed a bottom deck to keep those blocks or stringers intact.
Unfortunately, Feiner continues, decades of pallet designers perpetuated those earliest inefficiencies, as have material handling system designers in general. As a result, supply chains still deal with the legacy of those early models, notably such issues as heavy weight, poor cube efficiency, high damage rates, and porosity. Feiner explains that it was really necessary to start from a clean slate in looking at opportunities to eliminate such inefficiencies.
Resulting from such an approach, Polymer Logistics is now announcing the introduction of its “CleanPal” nestable plastic pallet to the US market. The company reports having pilot programs with two customers, and involving four categories of perishable products, namely produce, bakery, dairy and meat.
“Wood pallets became the standard in last fifty years, but they are far from ideal,” adds Polymer Logistic USA COO Danny Bartal. “They are very inefficient in the transport of empties, wasting storage space. All this leads to very expensive operational costs.”
Tipping the scale at just 27 pounds and being nestable, CleanPal delivers a range of benefits in terms of ergonomics improvements, payload opportunities and empty pallet storage and return efficiencies. According to Polymer Logistics, its pallet provides weight reduction in the order of 3 to 6 percent per load versus the use of standard wood pool pallets. For the movement of empty pallets, the nesting feature allows the movement of 1500 empty pallets per load versus 500 conventional pallets. Also important, Polymer Logistics states that the damage rate for its new product is in the 2 percent range, versus 25 percent for conventional wood pooled pallets.
Benefits aside, there is of course, the familiar challenge of such pallets not being suitable for edge racking in warehouse storage systems – long a deal breaker for other lightweight pallets looking to deliver such logistics cost savings to the inbound link of the grocery distribution supply chain. With this in mind, Polymer Logistics is offering two different approaches in helping customers take advantage of Cleanpal. In one scenario, the retailer invests itself in the necessary metal mesh support. Based on typical retail pallet cycle times and a $0.50 per pallet rebate, Feiner estimates a 6-month payback. A second option is for Polymer Logistics to make the investment on behalf of the retailer, with the rebate amount held back until the second year of the program. With the mesh, the Cleanpal pallets meet load and insurance flammability specifications. For manufacturers or shippers, a rebate of $0.35 is also offered.
Pallet sanitation is another key component of the program, with Feiner noting the benefits of non-porous plastic versus traditional wood pallets. Polymer Logistics plans to offer the option to shippers of having pallets washed every trip. Feiner is quick to acknowledge that CleanPal has its limitations in applications involving conveyors or stacking, and may require additional use of slave pallets or top lids in such cases.
For more information, please visit Polymer Logistics