Happy New Year with a Bang!
Issues Facing Pallet Industry in 2004
By Dr. Edward C. Brindley, Jr., Ph.D.
Date Posted: 1/5/2004
New Years is a time for ringing out the old and ringing in the new ó a time for reflection into the past to gain a perspective on the future. It is a time for fire works and excitement.
Over the years many would agree that the pallet industry was anything but loaded with excitement. During the earlier days of our publications, I often had to search for something to print for my friends in the pallet industry. The last several years, however, the number of current events and lively topics seems to be plentiful. We have had to progress from creating material to reporting on topics that are of interest to a wide spectrum of our readers. Looking over the list of important issues and projecting into the future, a few of them stand out as being worth mentioning in this overview.
One of the most controversial issues in the last two years has been the phytosanitary heat treating of pallets and containers for international shipment. Many pallet people have grown impatient with the speed of implementation of heat treating regulations. Some have expressed frustration with their investments in heat treating systems because the demand for heat treated hardwood pallets has been so slow developing. Many have wondered if this is another example of governments making a lot of noise, acting like the market has to move quickly to satisfy its new found regulations, and then pulling out the rug because things do not develop as they had expected. It looks like the EU is moving to make its heat treating of hardwood pallets official early in 2004, so maybe many readers will be able to use their treatment facilities sooner rather than later. For those who did not think it would ever happen, it seems that the waiting time may soon end. It looks like heat treating of hardwood pallets will finally start to take shape in 2004. How long it will be before conditions totally shake out is by no means certain.
One of the most important issues in the hardwood pallet manufacturing industry is the availability of low-grade hardwood lumber. I wrote about this in two of my recent letters, but more editorial support material is available. Pallet Profile readers have recently been able to receive via e-mail a comprehensive report that explains what is going on in the low-grade hardwood market. Much that appears in the general business press about lumber relates directly to softwoods, which can be vastly different from the hardwood market. Even the conditions in grade hardwoods can differ considerably from low-grade hardwoods. Thus, this definitive piece can be valuable to share with customers who are striving to understand what is going on. Call Jeff at 804/550-0323 to learn more about this report and how to get it by subscribing to the Profile. The hardwood supply issue promises to carry at least through the spring, but history would suggest that some relief will eventually be on the horizon.
Certainly the most controversial pallet issue has to be CHEP. The Blue and White Report, a free e-mail report available to subscribers of the new Recycle Record, is the most complete report on this issue from a pallet perspective. For your copy, call Jeff at 804/550-0323 to learn how to receive your copy as a Recycle Record subscriber.
Expect CHEP to continue being a hot news item. Ricky Mock in
What are some of the hot issues on the horizon? Certainly, radio frequency identification (RFID) is likely to surface. Wal-Mart is currently trying to push many of its largest suppliers toward using RFID on pallets and containers, starting in 2005. The defense department is planning to implement RFID technology during about the same time frame. You will hear more about RFID as the year progresses.
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