It’s difficult to imagine a warehouse that isn’t equipped with at least one pallet. The pallet is ubiquitous to warehouses and can be considered the backbone of basic operations. Pallets are put through a lot of stress from constant use, which makes pallets easily susceptible to damage. Because of this damage, pallet maintenance or replacement costs may go beyond what a warehouse manager’s budget has allotted.
Extending pallets’ longevity in terms of their service in a warehouse can save resources for management. How can a warehouse manager extend the lifespan of their pallets?
The first step to making sure that the pallet in use is the correct pallet for the job. Using an inappropriate pallet not only damages the pallet, but the products loaded onto it as well.
Another method is to use pallet accessories like pallet collars, pallet cages, and pallet jacks. These accessories are used primarily to support the functions of pallets, in some cases easing or bracing the weight of the loads placed on pallets (as in the case of cages). Pallet collars can also be used to create compartments or divisions, which are useful for better stacking and racking of loads, in turn minimising potential damage to both pallet and product.
When transporting goods, take precautions in making sure they’re lashed or latched correctly. Lashing too tightly creates too much stress on the pallet planks, which can lead to cracks. Meanwhile lashing too loosely can give products room to move, causing damages like splintering (for the pallets) and breakage (for the products).
Pallets and forklifts go hand in hand in warehouse settings – however, the pallet is the more prone to damage of the two. When using the forklift to lift loads, make sure that the loads aren’t overloaded, and that the forklift is capable of lifting and transporting the loads safely. Checking the forks for any damage can also lessen the chances of damage, on top of making sure the forklift is in working order.
Another thing to consider with regard to forklifts is to ensure that the forklift driver or operator understands how to operate the equipment. Improper handling of pallets is a prominent cause for pallet damage.
To add to the above, mind a pallet’s weight capacity. Pallets, like with everything, have a threshold for how much weight they can bear or carry at any given time. Constantly straining on a pallet’s threshold can lead to splintering or even breaking. It can also dent or ruin the shape of the pallet, which would make it unsuitable for use.
Pallet wraps is another option to consider. Pallet wraps protect the pallets from the outside elements and from chipping.
Safely store and stack pallets when not in use. Having a designated area for storing and stacking pallets can limit their exposure to potential damages, such as being bumped into by moving equipment. Check the storage area to ensure it’s cool and dry to avoid moulds and the sort from growing or developing on the pallets, especially as wooden pallets are susceptible, regardless of whether or not the wood has been treated.
With the right care and mindfulness, pallets can serve a warehouse for far longer than one might expect. Keep these tips in mind when using pallets.