Save Money on Wood by Extending Life of Pallets

posted on: Tuesday May 16, 2017

wooden-pallets-1258486_640The early effects of Trump’s recent declaration of a countervailing duty on Canadian lumber have sent manufacturers looking for savings to balance out the price hike. While each facility has unique needs for lumber, there is one cost that every manufacturer absorbs: pallet deterioration. With lumber expenses under the microscope, preventing the breakdown of pallets can be one of the most important ways to protect your budget.

The basic way in which pallets are handled exacerbates the deterioration process. Pallets are only good for so many moves, and the lower the cost of wood, the fewer moves they will last. Every time a forklift or pallet jack picks up a loaded pallet, some amount of stress is induced. Boards shift, crack, and break. Nails loosen. If you move a pallet five to ten times before the product is unloaded, damaging stress is put on the structure.

With this understanding, a really obvious and effective way to prevent deterioration is to move the pallet less. Since pallets need to travel about a facility, the way to do that is to use a tug and cart system.

It takes one move to load pallets onto a cart. From there, you operate an electric cart pusher, or battery-powered tug, to move the carts around the facility. Not only does this minimize the number of times a pallet is lifted and set down, it also frees up the forklifts for vertical use. Anyone can grab the tug, and if carts are hooked together, one person can move significantly more in one trip than a forklift can.

A tug and cart system brings you other savings, too. They’re exponentially safer than lift trucks, so your risk of injury and related costs are minimized. Maintenance for this equipment is also minimal – consider that along with the decreased wear and tear to your forklifts.

In addition to incorporating a better system of movement, you can take action with the pallets themselves. Laszlo Horvath, Assistant Professor of Practice and Director of the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design at Virgnia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) has offered suggestions in several of his presentations and courses. His advice is based on extensive Virginia tech research. Here are some highlights:

  • A 5-6% increase in fasteners results in a 56% improvement
  • A 38% improvement is seen when butting lead-edge deck boards together
  • Using split inhibitors on leading-edge deck board yields a 48% improvement
  • Dense hardwood is 38% more resilient than medium-density hardwood
  • Air dried material performs 43% better than green

For information on tug and cart systems, talk to Load Mover, Inc. We don’t just manufacturer battery-powered tugs; we help manufacturers make the most productive and cost-efficient use of this equipment. Call us at 952-767-1720 or email