RPN: What makes your company unique compared to other plastic pallet and container providers?
We offer a truly unique combination of long and varied experience in materials handling, a wide network of suppliers and solution providers, highly competitive pricing and provision of tailored solutions (as opposed to selling products). We often surprise our clients with our level of understanding of their needs and our creativity at getting better results and more savings.
We are working on a new and very clever design for a bulk bag pallet, suitable for 1 tonne bags. This pallet will be light (weighing only 6kg), stackable, rackable (!) and specifically designed for bags, which will make it very attractive for industries such as sugar, rice, wheat, chemicals and mining.
3. Under what circumstances do your customers see better value in buying plastic pallets versus other options such as pallet hire or buying wood pallets?
Wherever goods are exported to other countries with strict quarantine laws, plastic simply goes through customs. This saves a lot of time, which makes the export process shorter and the exporter quicker to market and more competitive. It also reduces the amount of damage due to moisture and sun, thus ensuring more product makes it to the destination in good shape.
In one-way systems, there is no need to return the pallet, so buying is the only option. In return packaging systems, since hiring costs the price of a pallet every 2-3 years, buying any pallet that lasts longer makes sense, particularly when there is no extra charge for bringing the pallets back to base.
Since most of the pallets for hire are heavy timber pallets, buying plastic also means getting a better, more suitable and safer way to carry goods from one location to another, which reduces workplace health and safety issues, requires lighter equipment and sometimes even enables manual handling of the pallets without equipment at all.
We started in Australia, but have already gone into Thailand and started looking into the Indonesian market.
RPN: How does the relative proximity to China impact the Australian plastic pallet market?
It hardly does. The pallets, crates and bulk containers we provide are of modern design and manufacturing, while most of the Chinese products are older and therefore heavier and not as good. Also, the Australian market uses unique measurements, but is not large enough to be interesting for Chinese manufacturers to compete seriously. Finally, of course, there is the cultural interaction bias, which gives us an advantage.
RPN: Are plastic pallets typically used for consumer goods downstream (distribution center to retail outlet) as they are in North America?
Apart from one company, which uses plastic pallets in its entire chain of operations, and non-Australian pallets at that, we don’t know of any others and we think that’s a pity, but it also means there’s potential in that niche. Unfortunately, there are no laws that would push companies in that direction (yet).
RPN: In North America, one of the flashpoints for plastic pallets has been decaBDE fire retardant usage. How is that debate shaping up in Australia?
Give the Australians another 20-30 years and they’ll catch up…
8. Another problem in North America has been plastic pallet and container theft. Is this an issue, and if so, how is it being addressed?
Since there is not much distribution with plastic pallets, there is nothing to steal and nothing to protect. Also, the pallet hire market is dominated by 2 large companies, which makes their pallets very easy to spot and hard to steal.
9. Do you have any sense of the plastic pallet market share versus wood in Australia? Where do you see the market headed in the years ahead?
Plastic pallets are used in 1-2% of the market. The rest is mainly wood. I wish I could say the market was headed towards plastic, but I can’t.