So in our last blog post, we looked at a few questions that anyone using pallets should be asking themselves if they are looking for the best pallet at the most efficient price. If you have answered the questions that I gave you in the last post, then let’s look at why that information is important.
I want to first qualify something. There are basically two applications for using a pallet. The first is for shipping. This is where you would purchase (or rent) a pallet with the purpose of putting your product on it, ship it out and never see that pallet again. The second application is for in-house, captive, or closed loop pallets. This is where the pallet is considered an “asset” of the company. If you send the pallet out and you get that pallet back or the pallet consistently stays in your control, then this would be that type of application. This blog series is better suited to help those in the second application group, however if you are using a shipping pallet and your unit load is worth a considerable amount of money and you are having product damage, then you are still going to learn a few things in this series that will be beneficial.
So, the first thing we asked you to do last time was measure the footprint of the product as well as the foot print of the pallet. Why?
One of the sure-fire ways to destroy your pallet is to design it so that the foot print of the product is smaller than the footprint of the pallet. Sometimes we even see a product footprint that is larger than that of the pallet. If this is your situation, your first step to creating a better pallet is to increase the size. Not only will you have a better chance of reducing pallet damage, but you will most certainly have a better shot of keeping the product free from damage as well. Now, back to the smaller product footprint scenario…let’s start with the width (SEE FIGURE ABOVE). If you will recall, I had asked you if you had witnessed any top deck boards bowing or bending downward. I asked you to check this because if the pallet is built correctly, the weight of the product will be be supported by the 2x4’s or stringers. When the edge of the product footprint doesn't reach the edge of the width of the pallet, the weight of the product is not fully transitioned to the 2x4's. The weight will be resting only on the deck boards, so you will see bowing or cracking if there is any type of weakness in the boards. In many cases those deck boards will break in transit, which can damage the product in transit. You will always want the edge of the product to be flush with the edge of the pallet.
As for the length of the pallet (SEE FIGURE ABOVE), if your product is not flush with the edge of the pallet, several things can happen. For starters, you have the potential to see the edge of the lead board break (SEE PICTURE BELOW) if strapping is used. This not only damages your pallet, which will take it out of circulation to be repaired, but many times you will see the product damaged. For some companies, there are millions of dollars in loss that must be written off due to product damage. In fact, that top lead board is the most CRUTIAL piece of lumber on your pallet. If it is not in good shape, your product is vulnerable. If there is one thing to learn in this series of posts, it’s make sure your top lead board is in good shape. We estimate that 90-95% of all wood pallet damage happens to the entry of pallet. See our solutions to keeping the top lead boards protected.
In the next post, we will continue the pallet examination and continue our journey through the anatomy of a great pallet.