In the world of package design, you have to think not only of the package itself, but what it’s going to be resting upon. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Horvath: We are investigating pallets. Pallets are, basically, a wooden structure — it could be plastic or other materials, that is used to transport boxes throughout distribution. So, when you see a wooden structure with a lot of boxes on top of it, that’s called a unit load, and the structure under the boxes is a pallet.
Laszlo Horvath is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech. He says that not all pallets are created equal.
Horvath: If pallets are designed really well, then they work, and then nobody ever questions whether they are designed correctly. However, a lot of times, when they are not designed correctly, then unit loads have a tendency to collapse. And imagine a 3,000 pound unit load 30 feet high in a warehouse containing food products collapsing, and it contaminates everything, which could be multiple thousands of dollars to remove that unit load.
Male Voice: This is a 15,000 pound failure test, just to simply run it up to see when the pallet fails.
[LOUD BANG, PALLET BREAKS]
Horvath: Although people don’t like to spend money on it, pallets are one of the cheapest components of a unit load. Because when you are looking at a pallet, it could be a $10.00 to $15.00 apiece. So, when you start saving money on a pallet, you get to a point where you start to have to be spending more money on the bottles on top of the pallet, and that’s where the real money is. So, we try to educate companies to show them that they can actually increase the stiffness of the pallet by adding a dollar to it. And we can show them how they can save $5.00 to $10.00 from from the bottles, which is a net savings of $9.00, which doesn’t seem a lot. But most of these companies ship more than a million unitized products out, which is a nine million dollar savings.
We’ll hear more on package design in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.