The Power of Pallets

The Power of Pallets

Over the years pallets have become a significant part of our global economy. Without really thinking about it pallets are a major part of our everyday lives. The furniture we have, the food we buy, has all been transported on pallets. That is unless you make your own furniture or grow your own food.

So imagine a world without pallets. The cost of canned foods would probably be significantly more just because employees would have to transport 3 to 4 cans at a time. Even orders you make online would have to be handled individually. Without pallets, the cost would be higher, labor would be increased, and products would take longer to arrive at your doorstep.

Pallets make this whole process more convenient and I mean who doesn’t want that. However, pallets were not just made convenient for the consumers or for entertainment. No, pallets were fueled by war.

Pallets Fueled By War

During WWII, the need to supply troops stationed from Europe to the pacific was indeed a challenge. The United States military had to transport everything the soldiers needed, from toilet paper to tanks, to any other necessities had to be transported over longer distances than ever before.

The U.S. military encountered obstacles along the way. Canned produce was transported overseas in the open. By the time the goods reached their destination, the goods were corroded or damaged and with a loss rate of about 40%.

In April of 1942, a large number of Filipino and U.S troops were forced to surrender due to disease and malnutrition. The supply chain had broken down, canned foods were becoming damaged or corroded once the goods arrived at their destination so the troops were left without food and other supplies they needed in order to fight.

A Navy Supply Corps officer named Norman Cahners invented the four-way pallet. This invention featured notches cut in the side of pallets so that forklifts could pick up pallets with ease and from any direction. Forklift trucks eliminated workers from lining up and loading the pallets onto the forklift.

Then came the invention of block pallets that were an improvement from the four-way pallets used during WWII. The pallet deck boards rest on sturdy blocks rather than on cross boards which make it even easier for forklift trucks and pallet jacks to lift pallets from any angle.

However, not every company uses this new approach. Block pallets cost more to build than long cross-board pallets. The use of block pallets is only used in Europe. The U.S. argues that it does not make sense for rental companies to get into that business because the supply chain between raw materials and workers takes too much time and the volumes tend to be smaller.

Pallets Fuel The World

The defeat in the Pacific made the military realize the importance of supplying the troops. The modernization of pallets started with wooden pallets and the forklift. The use of the forklift and wooden pallets was the most significant and revolutionary storage development of the war. No more damaged goods and supplies were transported with ease.

So why are pallets such a significant part of our global economy? Well for starters, pallets are efficient and:

  • The perfect partner for forklifts
  • Shippers can combine different products into one pallet
  • Unloading pallets is a lot faster than unloading individual items
  • Efficient packaging led to efficiencies on the receiving end.

Pallets were designed to work together with the forklift. The arms of a forklift can be inserted on each side of the pallets eliminating the need for workers to turn around and line them up. Forklift trucks allowed products to be moved, stacked and stored with immense speed and versatility.

Online shoppers are profitable now because they are able to combine small items into one package instead of handling each item individually. Now consumers are able to receive their items in as little as a day.

In 1931, workers took three days to unload a boxcar filled with 13,000 cases of goods. When pallets were introduced, it only took the workers 4 hours to complete.

Warehouses were able to standardize their processes for using forklifts to unload pallets and deliver them with ease to their designated areas around the warehouse.

Pallets are everywhere. As much as 80% of all U.S. commerce is transported on pallets. They are a widespread use and more than 46% are used in U.S. hardwood lumber production.

So you see, pallets have fueled not only the war but the entire world. Pallets are efficient and can greatly reduce shipping costs. Many companies like Ikea have been able to ship more supplies in a single pallet, this reduced their shipping cost by 60%.

The Future of Pallets

The future of pallets is bright just like the past and present. In fact, statistics show:

  • More than two billion pallets are in circulation in the U.S.
  • Approximately 94% of U.S products travel on pallets
  • More than 46% of U.S. lumber production is used to build pallets
  • Wooden pallets have a recycling rate of 95%, that’s more than any other packaging product.
  • The production and transportation of wooden pallets make up a $31 billion industry and create 173,000 U.S. jobs.

So it’s clear that pallets won’t become extinct anytime soon. As a matter of fact, recycled pallets are actually in high demand at companies with strong sustainability programs and cost reduction strategies. Companies like the Pasadena Skid & Pallet are constantly innovating and recycling pallets every day.

Wooden pallets are sustainable over a long period of time if taken good care of. Wood is the only renewable source that we have available. Wooden pallets are eco-friendly and durable to beat loading and unloading platforms as well as transporting from one place to another with ease.

Wooden pallets use a minimal amount of energy, water, and other resources are needed to convert wood into usable wooden pallets. Moreover, wooden pallets consume low-grade lumber and trees. Pasadena Skid & Pallet can provide an SFI or FSC Certified Wooden pallets at additional charges.

Pallets are one of the best inventions of the world along with others that have fueled and grown our economy to what it is today. Pallets have sustained longevity by supplying our needs and reducing costs while also increasing efficiency. Pallets will be the main global trade in our economy for a long time.

Are Wooden Pallets Safe For Transporting Food?

Are Wooden Pallets Safe For Transporting Food?

Pallets are extremely important. They are used to ship food and beverage products or any other goods.

The requirements for shipping pallets are unique and many manufacturers demand that pallets are of high quality for packaging and transportation.

Using wooden pallets for the food industry has come under scrutiny for some years from consumers and from the supply decision-makers.

Wood or Plastic?

It has also been refuted that the coarse surfaces of wooden pallets are more susceptible to microbial contamination.

However, there has been evidence to show that wear on plastic pallets which are a common feature of re-used plastic pallets are ideal for bacterial growth.

Therefore, wood has certain hygienic properties that in turn prevent micro-organisms from spreading.

When used properly, wooden pallets have an antibacterial property that is thirteen times more than plastic pallets.

It is, therefore, safe to conclude that the use of wooden pallets for raw materials, or any other products are suitable for use in food processing and transport.

However, the use of pallets for transport on raw materials and other food products requires strict adherence to the hygiene regulations and standards that apply to the transport, production, and storage of food materials. This includes continuous control of pallet quality and regular cleaning.

Whether or not you decide to use wooden pallets for your supply chain, there is a couple of safety concerns to consider.

If you do decide to use wooden pallets for your food industry then find out how to safely manage their handling to ensure that there are no contaminants.

Can The Use of Wooden Pallets Cause Food Contamination?

There has not been any evidence related to the use of wood pallets causing food-borne illnesses.

Research suggests that wood pallets are safer than plastic or any other alternatives because non-absorbent material pallets leave contaminants on the surface of the pallet posing a greater risk of cross-contamination than contaminants being absorbed into wooden pallets.

How Can Wooden Pallets Be Contaminated?

Wet wooden pallets that have reached the fiber saturation point will not be absorbed. They will also be vulnerable to mold.

There was a pallet company from a couple of years ago that analyzed their wood pallets and found evidence of Listeria, bacteria, and other harmful contaminants. This had sparked a chord with the media and the public which had a fear of potential food contamination.

Therefore, if the wooden pallets had not been properly stored, they will run a greater risk of contamination.

How to Eliminate Splinters in Wood Pallets

It may not be possible for a lot of food companies to eliminate wooden pallets in their production site. So control measures are implemented to avoid contamination of the finished product and raw materials.

The most common measures to control splinters from wooden pallets include:

  • Rotating regularly
  • Inspecting & removing damaged wooden pallets.
  • Keeping Wooden pallets dry at all times
  • Sanitizing wooden pallets
  • Putting a robust barrier layer between the wooden pallet and food product or raw material.

Ensure that your wooden pallets are safe to use by regularly reviewing, assessing, and practicing daily, weekly, or monthly checks to ensure that it is safe to use on raw materials or any products it comes in contact with.

Should Food Be in Direct Contact With Wooden Pallets?

The safety of having food products in direct contact with wooden pallets has been debated. There has also been a successful use of frozen bar sticks, wood cutting boards, wooden spoons, and more. There has also been a debate that wood is porous so it will be harder to sanitize.

To ensure any contaminants, food works best when its packaged inside a box rather than in direct contact with food.

When Food safety auditors are not concerned with food, they are most interested in pallets that are dry, clean, and in good repair so that the pallet will not puncture or protrude any nail heads or splinters.

The Food Safety Modernization Act

The Food Safety Modernization Act requires that all pallets should not contaminate food. However, this does not imply to pallets that are not in direct contact or are sanitized.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials state:

  • All pallets shall be checked for damage and contaminants.
  • All Unacceptable pallets shall be discarded.
  • Any wooden pallet that comes into contact with finished products or raw materials will be discarded and not allowed to contaminate the product.
  • Wooden pallets shall be sound, dry clean, and free from damage and contamination.

The FSMA requires that the vehicle transporting food is designed to not cause any contamination or for the food to become unsafe for consumption.

Temperature controls and procedures to prevent cross-contamination of food must be implemented, developed, and followed. Contamination between ready to eat food and raw food is to be prevented. Food that is a potential allergen must not be transported in the same load as the food that is manufactured to be free of that allergen.

Employee training and carrier training should have training in sanitary transport practices. This training applies to when the carrier and shipper agree that the carrier is responsible for the safety of the food.

The FSMA implements sanitary practices to both the food carriers, manufacturers, and processors.

The FSMA states that Procedures, agreements, and training should be documented and records should be maintained. The length of time will vary depending on the record and when the activity occurred.

Pallet suppliers are now developing processes to ensure that pallets are kept clean and dry until they are delivered to the customer. They are also advised to follow a process just to ensure that the wooden pallets are safe and undergo handling and inspection.

Alternatives to Wooden Pallets

Customers are concerned with wooden pallets contaminating their food supply and are looking for a lower risk of contamination. Some are looking for high-quality plastic or non-wood pallets just to make sure their food supply does not come into any contaminants.

However, wooden pallets have not had any evidence of food contamination and are safer to use in contact with food than any other non-wooden pallet.

Brigham City’s 11 Year Old Entrepreneur Helps His Scout Troop

Brigham City's 11 Year Old Entrepreneur Helps His Scout Troop

Eleven year old Sam Davies was determined to go to Boy Scout camp. However, his mom told him he’d have to figure out how to somehow earn the money on his own. Sam knew his mom wasn’t going to go back on her decision, but he wasn’t deterred. He realized he’d have to come up with a plan; $200 was a lot to make in one month.

Looking around his family’s home, he noticed a wooden pallet that had an American flag painted on it, a previous family project. He formulated a plan: he knew how to make one; a few more should be easy, he reasoned. He started with three to see if they would sell, asking his mom to help him list the painted pallets on a local classifieds webpage.

After listing the pallets, hoping to sell perhaps ten to cover his camp costs, it was soon apparent that they underestimated the appeal. Within minutes, there were 50 orders!

Sam’s mom was duly impressed by Sam’s stepping up to the plate. She spoke proudly of her son’s dedication. At first, she was happy that he had simply made an effort to use his imagination. Even if the pallets didn’t sell, she appreciated that he was trying. Joy soon turned to amazement, however, when the pallet orders mounted to way past the original planned ten.

Apparently, the citizens of Brigham City who saw the ad passed the word on to others, because the orders soon jumped to over 100. He eventually had to engage the help of three older sisters and friends. Thankfully, a family friend donated the required pallets. The final count came to over 200 pallets at $25 each, bringing in enough money to support the camp costs for the entire troop.

Most of the excess money was placed into tithing, his mission and savings.

Despite his normal 11 year old desires to play, he heeded his mom’s urging to get to work. Now, although he does kind of miss the work, Sam is eager to get back to his life and spend time with his family and friends.