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A few years ago, Swedish giant Ikea redesigned their Bang mug no fewer than three times, in order to reduce their shipping costs by 60 per cent, according to Fronetics. They felt the initial design was flawed because it could only fit 864 mugs on each pallet. Thanks to their redesigns, they now get 2,204 mugs on a pallet.
The Bang mug is just one example of how important a watertight logistics system is in reducing an organisation's overall costs – especially optimising pallet space. How a company incorporates pallets into their supply chain can determine transport costs, load and unload time, safety and the state in which a product reaches its end destination.
Here we look at a few of the reasons lightweight pallets increase business efficiency.
1) Available in different sizes
Lightweight plastic pallets come in a range of sizes which means there's no need to ship a half-empty pallet. Having pallets or containers in a logistics system that fit the products being shipped can represent savings both in terms of warehouse storage and shipping. It may be possible to move to a smaller storage facility or optimise the way it is organised by moving to smaller pallets, and the size of a shipment can affect the transport rates applied when charged by space.
A range of sizes available means that plastic pallets fit into other warehouse systems – such as pallet internal pallet transportation on forklifts and pallet jacks. Even minutes wasted on moving incoming or outgoing shipments add up to significant periods of time over the course of a year, making it crucial that different parts of the chain fit together seamlessly.
Plastic pallets are also guaranteed to be the same size and weight every time, allowing systems to be designed around them, if required.
2) Designs that work with other systems
Pallets specifically designed with storage and industry needs in mind also represent efficiency in terms of space management and health and safety.
Nestable pallets, which sit inside each other when stacked, are crucial for saving space and therefore costs in closed-loop or return systems, both during transportation and storage. A truck that usually fits 500 pallets can transport 1,200 nestable pallets, according to Inbound Logistics – a significant difference.
In industries such as pharmaceuticals, spill containment pallets are essential for health and safety and minimising associated cleanup or waste disposal costs.
3) Hygienic and easy-to-clean
Lightweight plastic pallets are easily cleaned, which is crucial in industries such as health and food. As well as the cleaning process being quick and easy, with no wear through repeated washing, plastic pallets also can't be contaminated as wooden ones can. Wooden pallets can harbour dust and mould, and present problems when used in high-moisture areas.
Issues such as infestation or weakening mean that wooden pallets represent continuous replacement costs. Effective cleaning of wooden pallets takes additional time, and also incurs further expense.
Plastic pallets are ready to go – there's no need to have them fumigated and certified to meet ISPM 15 standards, unlike wooden ones. As soon as plastic pallets are in a supply chain they can be used as intended, with no additional delays or costs associated.
4) Strong as well as lightweight
Despite their light weight, plastic pallets are also very strong and consistent in strength – unlike the wooden variety which are made from inconsistent pieces. With consistent strength, heavier goods can be shipped in larger numbers, again maximising the potential of each pallet by filling it to capacity.
Stronger pallets are also long-lasting, meaning ongoing repurchasing costs are minimal, assuming they are in a system whereby they are returned to the original owner. They're also weather-resistant and can withstand fluctuating temperatures more easily than wooden pallets, which makes them ideal for a wide variety of products and locations.
To talk about which pallets suit your business needs, and how we could help you reduce costs and increase efficiency, contact Eco Pallets today.