A marriage between pallets and containers makes a lot of sense; an all-in-one unit to contain, store, handle, pick and transport otherwise tricky products and loose items. The variety of options, shapes and styles are vast, giving you the flexibility to find the perfect fit for your product or application. Great news – yes, but all these choices, materials, shapes and sizes can present a system design and integration challenge, especially for dynamic applications like pallet flow.
Let’s first take a look at a few of these pallet totes and containers available. A quick Google search will uncover many more.
Pallet Tote & Container Options:
- Bulk Container Pallets
- Fold-down gate for each picks
- Collapsible and/or stackable
- 2-4 fork-lift pockets
- Several Sizes: 40”x 48” – 78” x 48” with other dimensions available
- IBC – Intermediate Bulk Container
- Bulk liquids up to 330 gallons
- Plastic or steel tubular cage
- Cage mounted on plastic, steel or wood pallets
- Variety of valve and lid options
- Spill containment pallets
- Constructed from steel and polyethylene depending on load type
- Available with removable grating in some cases
- Large forklift pockets
- Variety of sizes
It’s no surprise we’re seeing more and more container-type pallet flow projects. But without a standard design specification, how can you be sure yours is the right fit and will perform in your pallet flow system? Our advice… you guessed it… test it!
Mallard Pallet-Tote Tests:
Recently we conducted two pallet tote tests on pallet flow. Both tests used plastic pallets as simulated bulk container pallets and we ran both flat bottom and pod pocket pallets. Here’s a quick recap: Full rollers 1.9 diameter, tested on 2”, 3” and 4” centers at 3/8” and ½” per foot pitch. We tested several load weights from 100-1,250 lbs. Take a look at the videos to see how the different configurations worked out.
Findings and Recommendations:
In all the tests the pallet flow was able to advance the pallet-tote safely and consistently. Due to the nature of the pallet-tote (many of them being plastic) and fragility of the material they are often transporting, several additional variables need to be taken into consideration when designing your pallet flow system. Careful attention must be given to the size and shape of the tote, the position of the fork pockets, the environmental conditions, the length of the storage lane…to name only a few. As always, make sure to simulate the environment of the warehouse, type and condition of the pallet and pallet load as closely as possible for the best results.
Plastic Pallet Reminder
As you’ve seen, a large majority of the pallet-totes and containers are plastic. When considering plastic pallets for your pallet flow system, you’ll need to know some specific and often critical factors that can impact design and performance.
- There’s no design standard for plastic pallets – with a wide variety of styles and configurations on the market, you’ll need to know your spec before designing your pallet flow system.
- i.e.) some plastic pallets have steel runners while others have pods (or feet) in a variety of configurations for 4, 6 or 9 pods.
- Plastic is temperature sensitive – heat will cause the physical properties to change in plastic pallets often resulting in conforming issues; the pallet can mold slightly to the pallet flow wheel or roller causing flow, restart and hang-up issues.
- Plastic responds to load weight (vs. wood pallets) – Increased load weight can cause similar conformity or molding issues in plastic pallets.
Using our in-house testing lab, we can ensure your pallets, totes and containers perform consistently within your system design. Call Mallard’s pallet flow experts to schedule a pallet flow test or to get advice on your text pallet flow project.
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