Packaging suppliers are no longer content with selling pallets and other logistical solutions to their customers. Instead they are looking to produce their own innovative solutions and therefore be providers. By producing unique packaging solutions which perform their own functions, these suppliers are aiming to achieve a variety of goals. These goals include the reduction of damage to products, improved sustainability and a reduction in the overall cost incurred.
The chief executive of Sealed Air, a global packaging system, stated, “The future of the packaging industry is in efficiency. Whether it’s finding more efficient designs that require less material for more protection, efficient transportation and recycling, or disposal of packaging, vendors are looking for ways to do more with less, while supporting environmental and economic sustainability.”
A variety of new technologies are being implemented in order to meet this goal. One of the techniques which has drawn specific attention is the introduction of hybrid pallets, yet wood remains the most widely used material in the construction of pallets, it is estimated that a staggering 95% of all pallets are constructed from this material. Despite this, it has some downsides. “Wood pallets are extremely strong compared to their weight by nature, but if you don’t protect the blocks and the leader board, a forklift can easily destroy them,” stated Laszlo Horvath, who is the assistant professor of practice at Virginia Tech and director of the Centre for Packaging and Unit Load Design, “plastic pallets last longer, but they are less stiff than wood and more expensive.”
Packaging Materials For The Future
In response to this, many suppliers are manufacturing and developing hybrid pallet designs and attachments which utilise the assets of both materials. One example of a hybrid pallet can be provided by C&H Distributor. This company utilises the 48 x 40 x 5-inch Green Line Armour pallet. This pallet makes use of oak boards which are encapsulated on both ends of the pallet. The design also includes moulded recyclable plastic bumpers.
The product manager at C&H, Dave Caltreux, provided an explanation for the design. “The plastic on the ends takes the abuse from the forklifts, whilst the wood in the middle supports higher capacities than plastic pallets can, at half the price. It’s still more expensive than a one-way use wood pallet, but it’s so durable that it’s covered by a 10-year warranty.”
A number of other hybrid designs are emerging from a variety of suppliers globally, which suggests that this trend is sowing the seeds for the future of pallet design.