Plastic Pallets are gaining in popularity for good reason; they’re weather-resistant, reusable, sustainable, easy to clean, bug-free and durable. While the pallet market grows pretty steadily at 1% per year, the plastic pallet market increases by about 2.4% per year (over 130 million pallets) largely because the product is lightweight and reusable. While they are a great choice for many warehousing situations, they do have their limitations, cost being chief among them. 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.
Why We Recommend Testing Every Plastic Pallet
If you’re using plastic pallets we can help you work around these obstacles in our in-house testing lab. It’s the best way to define your system’s parameters – proper pitch, roller size and braking configurations- which we use to develop the optimal design for your specifications and application.
Take a look at a recent test run in our in-house testing facility for a major pharmaceutical company. The 40” x 48” plastic pallet in this test has a weight capacity of 1,500-2,000 lbs. The pallet flow system was a full roller lane on 3” centers.
Mallard Engineering Test Runs for Plastic Pallets on Pallet Flow:
- 1500 lbs. at 3/8” pitch
- 2000 lbs. at 3/8” pitch
- 2000 lbs. at 5/16” pitch
- 700 lbs. at 5/16” pitch
The pallets flowed well in all tests, while the 5/16” pitch provided a more controlled flow at the heavier 2000 lbs. weight. The accelerated rate of the heavier pallet on the 3/8” pitch could prove to be a safety issue for product and warehouse team members and so the more gradual pitch was recommended.
If you’re using plastic pallets in your warehouse, call Mallard’s pallet flow experts for help evaluating and testing your
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