U.S.-Canadian Group Visits Russian, European Sawmills and Pallet Plants
Some Members of Tour Participate in World Pallet Congress in Scotland
Date Posted: 4/5/2004
A group of
The tour group rendezvoused in
Boris and Nikita met the group, and everyone shook hands and made introductions. Nikita boarded the bus and took the group on a tour of the mill yard.
The company obtains logs from its own wood lots, contracting with loggers to do the cutting. The size of wood lots available in
The mill makes softwood lumber and pallet stock. In fact, PSB-GEM-HOLZ supplies cut stock used for CHEP pallets.
Birch, aspen and poplar logs are sold to a Finnish paper company. Birch trees average about 20 inches in diameter, and poplar and aspen are almost as large. Hardwood logs have little or no value in
The sawmill originally began as a cooperative Russian-German effort, but the Strogiy family now is the sole owner. It is equipped with European-made wood processing machinery. The mill, with about 50 employees, manufactures lumber that is destined for many ports in
Boris hosted the visitors to a light lunch in the offices and answered questions. The company’s workers earn an average of $400 (
Many in the group expressed surprise at the company’s low prices, but Boris said they are very new to the lumber industry. “
Many Russian sawmills ship pre-cut pallet stock to customers as far away as 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) in
Following the visit to PSB-GEM-HOLZ, the group enjoyed a tour of
The following day the group enjoyed a tour of another sector of the city and a hydrofoil ride on the
The group traveled by bus the next day to tour a palace that was built by Peter the Great for his second wife, Catherine, in the town of
The next day the group traveled by bus to tour Jan’s company. En route to the two-story complex, a videotape about the Fredell family business was played on the bus video system. The Fredell business has its roots as a sawmill, timber wholesale and pallet manufacturer. However, Jan expanded the company into the retail sector, and today the company includes a popular and successful home improvement retail store.
The first floor contains wood processing and manufacturing operations, including automated lumber cut-up lines, manufacturing operations, dip tanks, inventory stock and more. The second floor is dedicated to retail sales and is stocked with merchandise that is similar to what would be found in a Home Depot or Builders Box in
The travelers left
PKF Post supplies various wooden boxes and containers to the Western European agriculture industry. It manufactures a type of veneer for the side and bottom panels. When the North American tour group was visiting, workers were busy assembling by hand large boxes that were in demand for the early apple harvest.
The group traveled next to
The plant was very impressive. The array of nailing machines and other equipment was extraordinary. The majority of the company’s pallet production is block pallets. The company experienced increased demand for specialty stringer pallets, however, and added a machine to automatically nail them; some of the specialty stringer pallets are 8-10 feet long but nevertheless can be assembled automatically on the equipment. Faber Halbertsma Groep supplies
The plant generates heat by burning scrap wood and pallets. Waste wood also is used to fuel dry kilns that heat-treat pallets, boxes and crates in order to meet global phytosanitary requirements.
Neal Grimes of Pallet Resource of North Carolina suggested that Nikita and Anna Stoigiy of PSB-GEM-HOLZ attend the conference. To the group’s surprise and through the assistance of Jan Fredell, Nikita was invited to attend the World Pallet Congress as the representative from the Federation of Russian States.
This conference provided a vision into the future challenges and potential solutions facing the international pallet-packaging industry. Many business problems were discussed in the seminar segment, both in group discussions and one-on-one. One of the biggest debates was over the dilemma caused by old pool pallets and the sectors that new pool pallet groups plan to explore.
Delegates to the conference generally agreed that International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) rule for solid wood packaging is permanent. As large industrial countries post their import and export policies for solid wood packaging, more countries will be required to comply with the rule.
The regulatory program was designed to be paperless, and the European Union has tried to persuade
The wood packaging import and export policies of
The European Union, which is admitting a number of new members from
Delegates concurred with the strategies of two of the world’s largest companies regarding pallet standardization. IBM plans to use only Euro-type block pallets (800mmx1200mm) and Wal-Mart will require only 48x40.
There was some discussion of the pallet pools, and conferees looked forward to hearing remarks from the Faber Halbertsma Groep, IPAL and LPR Group. Delegates also agreed that the pallet and container industry must promote itself through trade shows and other means. Conferees discussed the use of wood pallets in the food services industry and the need for new or cleaned pallets in food service applications. Delegates indicated that fewer than 10% of pallets are made of competing materials; corrugated and plastic are the most common alternative materials, but plastic apparently has lagged somewhat because of price increases for petroleum.
The Next 5 Years
Many delegates agreed that the pallet and container industry will be increasingly customer driven, and the industry will become part of the process. Cheating on pallet dimensions and construction will be taken more seriously, and pallet suppliers that engage in those kind of practices will find themselves out of the loop.
Several delegates argued that the industry must take a bigger lead in directing pallet purchasing and design. Pallet professionals must lobby for participation on committees or boards that are involved in pallet design and purchasing.
Pallet pools are expected to grow. Today there are an estimated 12 working pools. The number is projected to double in five years to 24.
There will be more demand to develop pools for specialty industries, and pallet suppliers will be solicited to administer such pools. Responsibility will be high, and GPS tracking will be required.
A number of the world’s largest pallet pools will become more focused on specific markets, leaving many smaller markets to smaller pools.
Pools will continue to have problems with lost or roaming pallets. Pool operators must be able to hold the user or licensee responsible for pallet losses.
Programmable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips will be used to ‘read’ and track what is carried on a pallet.
Pallet recycling is expected to increase in
The North American pallet recycling industry is expected to continue to grow at a high rate, too. It should continue to grow until the number of repairable cores falls to an unmanageable percentage and another huge influx of new pallets is required. Many believe this point is not far off, and that purchases of new pallets will soon increase.
The British government has some regulatory issues with wooden pallets, and the country’s pallet industry may be forced to influence political direction.
The next international pallet conference will be the sixth Interpal World Pallet Congress, which is scheduled Aug. 30-
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