Steel Innovative: Reusable Steel Pallets and Shipping Racks Adapt to Emerging Supply Chain Needs

Metal packaging, in the form of steel pallets,shipping racks and other transport packaging systems has served industries for decades of tireless service. Whether you are involved in automotive, industrial, fresh meat, dairy and egg, post and parcel, or any number of other applications, you will likely be acquainted with steel reusable packaging systems that just keep on performing year after year, decade after decade. Steel transport packaging is prized for such attributes as:

  • superior load bearing strength
  • high resistance to damage
  • easy to sanitize,  non-absorptive
  • easily repairable and recyclable
  • can be customized to meet any legacy pallet size and style
  • performs well in automated material handling systems
  • can be coated or painted
  • no fire rating concerns

A few years ago, Steel Pallet Systems introduced its ‘Lightweight, Extra Strong, All Steel Bailey Pallet™.  Made from high quality galvanized steel under 1 mm thick, the pallet has been lab tested to compression failure at 12.5 tonnes, according to Alec Bailey, Managing Director, Steel Pallet Systems Pty Ltd. It has passed the most difficult test, that of racking performance. “Using cardboard thin cold rolled steel it is lightweight and depending on size and purpose, weighs under 20 kg up to 26 kg,” he said. “The galvanized finish allows rust free performance for many years, even decades.”

“But lets face it,” commented Alec. “Steel was always too heavy and usually welded, thus expensive. A big price gap existed between wood and plastic (pallets). This pallet is designed to fill that gap.”  To further ensure longevity and viability, the pallet is riveted, not welded, so unlike others, it is designed to be easily repairable. And of course, he added, steel has a value for recycling when the pallet is no longer repairable.

For other segments of the steel reusable transport packaging market, innovation is also front of mind. “The biggest trend we see right now is the use of robots to load/unload racks requiring very tight tolerances be held on the shipping racks,’ offered Mike Owens, Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Contract Industrial Tooling. CIT produces custom shipping racks for the manufacturing sector. “Even special gauging is being requested to assure fit.” His company has also has recently designed what it calls a “FloorLock” corner post. It is a spring loaded shipping rack corner post that automatically makes a caster rack into a stationary rack when another rack is stacked on top of it.

“Being steel,” Alec added, ‘many of the issues affecting wood pallets today, such as insect infestation and contaminant absorption, are non-existent. As well, the pallet is fully ISPM-15 compliant.”

The steel Bailey Pallet has a zero flammability rating.

Alec emphasized that the steel pallet has performed well in automated, robotic and heavy-duty environments. Testing in cold storage and other applications is currently ongoing.

For Steel Pallet Systems,  inevitably the big question is price.  Alec believes that price will be in the $60-80 range with automated robotic mass production.  The current cost is less than $AU 150.00.

For more information, visit Contract Industrial Tooling
or Steel Pallet Systems

This article first appeared in 2010.


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