5 Situations Where Plastic Pallets Are Useful | Pallet Consultants
Plastic has a wide range of applications, and that includes use in pallets. Plastic pallets usually have the most benefit in specific situations, like use in airlines and food processing
As discussed in our blog post Pros and Cons of Using Plastic Pallets, there are certain advantages plastic has over wood as pallet construction material. The biggest benefits to plastic are its durability, moldability, and ease of cleaning.
These specific attributes have implications in certain industries that may make plastic pallets more desirable. We’ll review the best-use cases for plastic pallets. Check out our site to learn about our plastic recycling and also what our wood pallets can do for you!
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1. International Shipping
When pallets are used to ship goods abroad, chances are they have to be heat treated. Pallets that are being used for international shipment are required by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to be either fumigated or heat treated to prevent the spread of disease and pests.
Packages that are made of solid wood, like pallets, must either have their internal core temperature reach 133˚F for 30 consecutive minutes or be fumigated with Methyl Bromide. This is to meet the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measure No. 15 (ISPM 15) that is set by the IPPC.
If you’d like more information on the IPPC and their ISPM 15 standard, check out these links:
Plastic pallets, however, meet this standard when they’re produced. Since plastic pallets don’t harbor insects there’s no need to treat them with heat or chemicals. This makes plastic pallets especially useful for facilities that frequently do business overseas. The step of heat treatment can be skipped entirely.
2. Chemical Manufacturing and Shipping
Chemical manufacturers and shippers can have very different needs depending on the products they are using pallets for, and the moldability of plastic is useful in this situation. If drums of chemicals are being transported, pallets can be formed with a recessed ring on the deck for drums to fit in. This makes the drums more secure and less prone to slippage.
Plastic pallets for chemical use can also have small spillways or a removable spill deck underneath the pallet. This makes cleaning spills much easier and may also prevent spilled chemicals from leaking to surfaces other than the pallet. In addition, the pallet can be made from slip or corrosion resistant material, making it more durable for that environment.
3. Food Processing and Production
Plastic pallets are easy to clean and are sanitary for situations involving food. Wood can absorb water, chemicals, and other substances that it touches. Plastic prevents this absorption, so anything spilled on the pallet will wash or fall right off.
This is especially important for facilities that are involved in food production or processing, since all surfaces that could come into contact with food must meet certain hygenic standards. These operations almost exclusively use plastic pallets since it can be difficult keeping wood to those standards. A simple wash with water or cleaning solution will sanitize a plastic pallet.
4. In-Store Displays
There are wooden pallets that are produced in a way to best fit being displayed inside a store, but some may prefer a plastic pallet for this job. While wooden pallets can look very clean and compliment products well, they will eventually wear over time and there is a risk of broken deck boards or exposed nails after repeated moving.
Using a plastic pallet for displaying items in-store is an attractive alternative. There is much less risk of breakage and almost no maintenance. Plastic pallets will also look cleaner for longer, especially if it’s a darker color like black.
5. Airline Shipping
Certain plastic pallets are designed to be lightweight and are ideal for transporting goods on aircraft. Depending on construction, some plastic pallets may give 25% weight savings. This is significant when all ounces and pounds are counted and analyzed. These pallets are also designed to be stackable as well as lightweight, so they take up less space when not being used on a return trip.
This is shipping where pallets do not enter or exit the system. If pallets are going from a distribution center to a grocery store, for example, those same pallets would be delivered back to the original distribution center. Then the cycle repeats.
Most plastic pallets are used in this type of shipping system, due to their higher upfront cost but also because of their enhanced durability. Plastic pallets can make potentially hundreds of trips, and are too valuable to not be reused time and time again.
While plastic pallets are useful in the situations mentioned above, wooden pallets will likely remain the workhorse of the industry. Wood is more cost effective and can easily be repaired. Plastic pallets have more upfront cost and are usually kept in closed loop systems, but are much more durable. Plastic pallets can be recycled, but can’t be repaired unless it’s a racquetball pallet with detachable movable bottom slots. These kinds of pallets are especially useful in the pharmaceutical industry.
Start a conversation with us and we can see what kind of pallet fits your unique situation. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, let us review your questions and needs with our team of pallet engineers. Between making sure you have pallets and systems that best fit the needs of your operation to taking a scientific approach to your inventory management, there are many ways our engineers can improve or completely handle your pallet needs.