New Technology Developments Driving Demand for Plastic Pallets
09 Aug 2017
Technology is driving development and innovation in the plastic pallet industry. Many companies are cutting costs by using plastic pallets to reduce manual handling of items, and they are versatile, with more than one use. They can be used for moving goods from warehouses or factories to retail outlets, can store products internally and can even be used for display. Plastic pallets last a long time, require minimal maintenance and are easy to store and repair. They are durable, unaffected by damp conditions, light and are cheaper than the traditional wooden variety.
Pallet choice is an important topic for companies, as hygiene requirements are driving more regulation in moving products such as pharmaceuticals, drinks and food items, which all need pallets that are clean and of high quality. Renting pallets is also becoming more popular, and rental companies monitor the condition of their pallets, thus reducing the time and money companies need to spend on this. The pallet renting – or pooling – market is undergoing rapid growth, and it is estimated than in a decade pallet pooling will be worth around $1,400 million (nearly £1,100 million).
Plastic pallets are now being designed to be reusable, which cuts costs and has an eco-friendly element. More advanced models are being developed that will include devices for easily tracking movements of large shipments or containers.
Many plastic pallets are now being coated with a protective substance, such as polyurethane, to protect the pallet and increase its durability. Plastic is generally a highly durable material, but coatings are especially valuable for mixed material or composite pallets, such as those made from a combination of plastic and fibreboard. This type of pallet can last up to a decade.
Fast, Easy Monitoring
Plastic pallets are now being fitted with SCBD, which stands for Supply Chain Big Data. Used with an integrated transponder, this allows companies to track where the pallets are, what their temperature is and their load state.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is another way that plastic pallets are becoming more useful with the aid of technology. When this is part of the pallet, it can be for easy tracking. As rapid development of Internet of Things technology continues, more companies are grasping the value of visible assets and incorporating digital innovation into pallets too. As an additional benefit, Internet of Things (or IoT) technology is less expensive than RFID, as IoT is less complicated to use.
One company that rents the composite pallets it manufactures has teamed up with a telecoms provider to offer electrically linked IoT in its pallets. With these technologically enhanced pallets, firms can collect and analyse a massive amount of information related to the management of their supply chains during the pallet phase. For companies to remain competitive, reducing costs and errors could be critical to maintaining a competitive edge and staying in business.
As another bonus, environmental groups are enthusiastic about the evolution of the plastic pallet, saying that wooden pallets are wasting resources – the timber used to construct them and the additional energy needed to move them around. It is only a matter of time before not using plastic pallets with in-built technology will be a waste of valuable resources too.