When you’re shipping goods from your loading dock to a customer in the next state, chances are you aren’t thinking about the pallets that keep your boxes of widgets safely bundled. Sure, these simple, mostly wooden platforms aren’t as interesting as your company’s ERP system or new supply chain technology, but, “They are key links in most companies’ supply chains, essential for transporting everything from T-shirts to automotive parts to pharmaceuticals,” says Inbound Logistics in the recent article “Pallets: The Power Behind the Supply Chain.”
The article continues:
“When outfitted with the right technology, pallets also can provide visibility into the movement of the goods they carry. “Pallets are the cells of the supply chain,” says Glenn Meeks, director of sales and marketing with Bettaway Transportation Logistics and Pallet Systems.
More than two billion shipping pallets are in circulation at any given time in the United States, according to industry analysts. Approximately 94 percent of industrial and consumer goods in the United States travel on a pallet at some point in their movement from production or manufacturing plant to distribution facility to end customer.
Demand for pallets has been on the upswing. “The U.S. economy’s recovery from its sluggish phase has led to an increase in procurement, production, and sales activities,” says Sharan Raj, analyst with market research firm Technavio. These increases are driving demand for materials handling activities and products, including pallets. The global pallet market will grow at a compound annual rate of 4.6 percent between 2014 and 2019, predicts Technavio’s Global Pallet Market 2015-2019 report.”
According to Inbound Logistics, there are several trends affecting the pallet industry. One trend is direct-to-consumer sales, which is influencing pallet sizes. In addition, more companies are mindful of pallet impact on the environment, thus a sharper focus on sustainability and reusability.
More shippers also want the ability to track pallet movements in their supply chains. Thus, some pallets are equipped with GPS or RFID technology.
When assessing whether a shipping pallet is appropriate for your situation, examine these five qualities:
- Strength: Can it handle the load?
- Stiffness: Will it hold its shape under the weight of the load?
- Durability: Will it hold up under the handling it will receive?
- Functionality: Is it right for the unit load and the handling equipment?
- Price: Does it provide value?
Read the original article—“Pallets: The Power Behind the Supply Chain” —for more insights into selecting the right pallet type for your application. Learn about sizes, materials and a range of other factors.