For shipping or for storage, the humble pallet plays a very important role. Pallets keep boxes and other items up off the floor so that they will not be damaged by cold, heat, dirt and water. They also allow for the large shipments of boxes to be lifted up and transported easily by a forklift from place to place. Pallets also make it possible to stack items in a more balanced and secure way, whether in a warehouse or in the hold of a ship. Pallets bring order and make it much easier to move large shipments of products. When you go into any store, chances are that the products that you see there were delivered in a shipment on a pallet of some type. Pallets are essential for shipping and storage and they have been used for many years. In the past, pallets were made of wood, but these days more and more pallets are being made of plastic. Thanks to innovations in the world of plastic injection moulding, plastic pallets can be cheaply produced and they are used all over the world.
So why have plastic pallets taken over from wood pallets in the shipping and storage industry?
They Are Not Susceptible to Insects
One of the disadvantages to using wooden pallets is the fact that they are susceptible to being infested with insects, such as termites. Also, wooden pallets have, in the past, housed invasive non-native insects that have made their way into new countries and negatively affected the ecosystem. However, plastic pallets are completely insect resistant, so this no longer becomes a problem. This also means that the plastic pallets will not be delayed at customs while they are examined for invasive species, like wood pallets would be.
They Are Water Resistant
Sometimes within the shipping or warehouse environment, the pallets are exposed to moisture – whether through humidity in the air or flooding on the ground. With wood pallets, they are likely to swell up and warp with this exposure to water. However, plastic is completely water resistant and does not suffer from this problem.
They Are Splinter-Free
Another reason why the switch has been made from wooden pallets to plastic pallets is that the wooden ones were prone to splintering during the shipping process. When this happened, the splinters could cause a safety hazard for those workers who were handling the shipment. Also, the splinters risked damaging the goods that the pallets themselves were meant to be protecting. Of course, splinters are not a risk with plastic as it is very unlikely to chip or splinter during transit.
They Last Longer
Another reason why plastic pallets are so often used is because they last a lot longer than a wooden pallet. The wood pallets break apart a lot earlier, so they need to be replaced more often. With so many wooden pallet replacements required constantly, this is actually more harmful for the environment than producing plastic pallets that will last for many years.
They Are Lighter
Although wooden pallets have the benefit of being very sturdy, they can also be quite heavy. This makes them harder to use and also adds to shipping costs as a result of the increased weight. If you were to use plastic pallets instead, your shipment will be up to 30% or even 35% lighter. This means that when a company makes an order on a shipment of products, they could be paying up to 35% less on their shipping charges.
These are just a few of the reasons why pallets made of plastic have taken over from wooden pallets and are now used more commonly in both shipping and warehouse storage.
Aki Hashimoto is a writer who is constantly on the lookout for innovative ways in which businesses can cut costs and improve efficiency. By using plastic pallets instead of wooden ones, a company could make savings on shipping costs and protect their cargo with this more durable material.