Plastic pallets provide a hygienic, non-splintering, lightweight alternative to standard wooden pallets. While the benefit of the pallet being free from protruding nails and loose boards is always a plus in a pallet flow rack system, it can be a challenge to design around the plastic pallet shape. The Mallard team recommends always allowing us to test sample pallet loads in our in-house testing facility before committing to a lane design to ensure that the pallet flow lane will effectively flow the pallet.
The test discussed below has several areas of interest to address designing a pallet flow lane for plastic pallets.
- Pallet sizes: 42”w x 46”d & 43”w x 46”d
- Load weights: 1500 lbs.
- Plastic pallets: 18 pod foot pallet. Pods are staggered at 8” apart. Lightweight, thin construction.
This particular style of pallet has staggered pod feet making it challenging in pallet flow because it is hard to establish a sufficient pallet to roller contact.
Additionally, one of the benefits of plastic pallets can also be a drawback when using them in pallet flow rack and that is the lightweight construction. The more flimsy the pallet the more likely it will conform to the rollers when the pallet sits in the lane. When the pallet conforms to the rollers in the flow lane, it will need help to restart flowing after sitting.
With all of this handy pallet knowledge… we move to test the customer-supplied pallets with simulated 1500 lb. loads.
Designing Split-Roller Pallet Flow Rack for Plastic Pod Pallets
- 3-rail split-roller pallet flow with 1.9” diameter rollers on 2” centers
- Indirect-mount speed controllers, set at 36” intervals
- 12’ lane length
- 3/8” per foot pitch
Pallet Flow Test Results
As you can see from the test video, the plastic pod pallets make minimal contact with the rollers due to their spacing on the bottom of the pallet. When this occurs, the pallet can gain too much speed progressing down the lane. To ensure a safe flow speed, the team installed indirect mount speed controllers at 36” intervals to ensure each pallet is sufficiently slowed. Indirect mount speed controllers are mounted under the pallet flow rails and make direct contact with the rollers, and not the pallets directly, to slow them which is a great choice for this type of pod-foot pallet.
As predicted, the pallets had difficulty restarting the flow after sitting in the lane overnight. The heavy 1500 lb. load weight on the flimsy pallet resulted in the pallet conforming to the rollers causing some hang-up issues. The pallets were easily restarted by using the Plugging Method of simply gently pushing back on the rear pallets before extracting the front pallet. The Mallard engineers recommend making that a common practice for these pallet loads.
We know there is a wealth of pallets to choose from and there are good reasons for choosing each type. Just remember that not every pallet flow rack is constructed equally. It’s best to have gravity flow rack specialists, like the Mallard team, test your system with a sample pallet load to ensure the best possible flow, particularly when using non-standard pallets. Contact the Mallard team to talk about options for productivity-boosting gravity flow solutions to your warehousing challenges.