Traditionally, pallets throughout the world's supply chains were made of wood. Plastic pallets are beginning to gain traction within the industry, but the move to replace wood with plastic is slow-going. It is estimated that about 90% of companies continue to use wood pallets, with only a small percentage completely replacing wood with plastic. However, over 30% of companies have begun integrating plastic pallets into their supply chains. While many companies may be hesitant to replace their wood pallets with plastic, there are numerous benefits to plastic pallets that companies could take advantage of.
Wooden pallets are far less durable than plastic pallets, and therefore have to be replaced more often which is an additional cost. The Virginia Tech Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design tested wooden and plastic pallets through a cycle of normal warehouse activities and found that while plastic pallets lasted up to 200 cycles before failing, wooden pallets failed after an average of 11 cycles! Fewer failing pallets means less waste in your supply chain and less cost associated with replacing these pallets.
Like plastic pallets, automation in supply chains is becoming the wave of the future. Wooden pallets are poorly designed for this process, and automating a supply chain around wooden pallets can be difficult. Plastic pallets, on the other hand, have been designed specifically with automation in mind. These new pallets are more consistent in size, shape, and weight than their wooden counterparts, which makes them preferably for automated warehouses or distribution centres.
3. Safety and Regulations
Supply chains in different countries will have different rules, but safety is a major priority nearly everywhere. Pallets are expected to be sanitary, and easy to inspect and store safely. Here, non-porous plastic dramatically outperforms wooden pallets which can absorb odour, moisture, or other materials into the pallet. Plastic pallets also eliminate the risk of splinters or nails when being handled by workers. Plastic pallets can also pass through metal detectors or X-ray machines if needed.