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Block pallets: benefits of standardization.


American industry must change now to a standard full four-way block pallet. The size should be 48-inch by 40-inch and similar to the design of the European standard pallet, which has been an unqualified success for about 30 years in 18 highly industrialized nations.

This pallet standard should not be dictated by the food industry, which has been talking, arguing and studying a possible new standard, but with no concrete action in 25 to 50 years. We're still basically using the same pallet design developed in World War II by the U.S. Armed Services.

America has thousands of types, designs and specifications in use in pallets; Sweden has two sizes.

Block-style pallet advantages

Block styles have been used in expendable pallets in America for many years. The can industry has used block-style pallets for over 30 years, usually in the 54-inch by 44-inch size, to maximize cubic utilization when shipping empty cans.

Block-style pallets have many advantages over stringer-style pallets. A few of these are:

* Block pallets can be inverted and nested, resulting in tremendous savings in freight and plant storage space. About 40 percent more pallets can be shipped in the same cube compared with stringer pallets. Freight costs, a large part of a pallet's cost, can be greatly reduced.

* Block pallets can be picked up from four sides with standard powered or non-powered pallet trucks, permitting low-cost handling equipment to load and unload, transport equipment and utilize the cubic space of this equipment to the maximum.

* Block pallets allow wide tread fork trucks to easily pick pallet loads up from the 48-inch side and bulk stack material two to four loads deep with far less wasted space between stacks.

* Because the 40-inch ends of block pallets have two clean entries (i.e., no bottom boards to interfere with entry), damage to bottom boards is virtually eliminated. "Chasing" of empty pallets by pallet trucks is completely eliminated. Two major causes of damage to pallets occur from fork tips running into bottom boards on entry and from pallet trucks prying top and bottom boards apart because of improper fork insertion usually caused from overhanging loads.

* Narrow stringers easily split during the nailing and drying out period. Once splitting occurs, pallets quickly disintegrate. Blocks have better holding power, are less apt to split and can be made of waste material like sawdust, wood chips, plastic, etc.

* For the above reasons, maintenance costs for pallets should come down appreciably and product losses will be drastically reduced.

* The stringer on a pallet gives the pallet its basic strength, however, as soon as a notch is cut in the stringer for four-way fork truck entry (a feature that any GMA standard must include) the greater part of its strength is gone.

Even with notched stringers, the pallet is not truly a four-way pallet.

Fork entry and removal when bulk stacking or while stacking in pallet loads make entry and removal of forks very precarious when stacking more than two loads high.

The American standard pallet must be a true four-way entry type, meaning four-way entry with forklifts and pallet trucks.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Thorkelson, Carl
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:Growth spurt sends pallet industry into the '90s.
Next Article:Automated lumber processing: a glimpse of the future.

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