In today’s supply chains, plastic and aluminum are the pallets of choice. But let’s take a look at the different types and how they measure up against each other. Let’s begin with the wooden pallet. As we stated in the first part of Pallets 101, there are severe limitations with wood pallets, particularly in industries such as pharmaceutical and baked goods (but not limited to them). Plastic and aluminum often lend themselves more favorably to today’s warehouse and supply chain needs. But let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of the wood pallet.
Wooden Pallets: Advantages
– Wood pallets are the most budget-friendly, at about a third of the price of their plastic counterparts.
– They remain the most widely used of the types of pallets available, although we see a movement away from wood and toward plastic.
– They can be repaired – but those which cannot end up in landfills.
– Wood pallets are less susceptible to “cargo shifting” (product moving around on the pallet) during transportation than plastic or aluminum, both of which have smoother and more slippery surfaces. However, there are workarounds for both plastic and aluminum to compensate.
– There is an abundance of supply.
Wooden Pallets: Disadvantages
– They are not the best choice for storing raw materials, ingredients, fragile items, and packaging materials, with the potential for puncture and splintering.
– There is the potential for combustion, although with a lower fire risk than plastic.
– Wood is susceptible to problems with moisture, fungus, pests, and mold, which makes it a less ideal way to transport food and other products with strict hygienic requirements.
– Wood pallets can be difficult to clean.
– They do not last as long as aluminum or plastic pallets.
– Some destinations may not allow wooden pallets into their countries unless they are heat treated, fumigated, and certified for export.
– Depending on the materials used to repair a wooden pallet, the repaired units may not last very long. There is a tendency to use whatever materials are readily available to repair wooden pallets, so it’s not uncommon to see a repaired unit with varying board thicknesses.
– The majority end up in landfills if not repaired.
– Repairing is more challenging than it was previously. Building material prices have greatly escalated. The materials being used to repair wooden pallets are more expensive, and it can also be difficult to find good lumber and materials.
– There is often a lack of consistency in sizes if wooden pallets are repaired. Final pallet weights can be inconsistent due to fasteners and moisture and humidity, which seeps into the wood.
Many industries are converting from traditional wood pallets to plastic pallets for several of the reasons above. While pallets made of wood have been widely used in manufacturing and distribution facilities in the past, many companies are discovering the advantages of pallets constructed from alternative materials, including aluminum.
We will go into detail about the advantages and disadvantages of Plastic and Aluminum Pallets in part 3. Stay tuned!