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Aluminum Plate Trailers Are a Good Match for Pallet Industry, Says Supplier: Pallet Companies Have Progressed to 53-Foot Trailer
Pallet Trailers: What is the best type of trailer for hauling pallets? Find out why one supplier believes aluminum plate trailers are the best fit.

By Thomas G. Dolan
Date Posted: 7/1/2007

   Any growing pallet company, particularly a recycling business, quickly finds it needs dependable trucks and adequate trailers to make deliveries and drop pickups. This aspect of the business has been changing in recent years to a different standard size trailer and trailers made of new materials.

   Is there any particular type or size trailer van that is better suited for the pallet industry? Yes, according to Ervin Equipment Inc., a major supplier; trailers made of aluminum plate are best suited for the pallet industry. Pallet companies have progressed from 48-foot trailers to 53-foot trailers, according to Ervin Equipment.

   Many pallet recyclers, especially those serving distribution centers or certain retail businesses, have trailers placed at customer locations to be filled with surplus or damaged pallets that will be hauled to the recycler. This activity may grow if progressive pallet companies increasingly take over some reverse logistics or warehousing functions.

   You can buy a brand new, top-of-the-line aluminum plate trailer for about $25,000. But why would you? “You can get a good used one for $5,000 to $6,000,” said Chad Strader, a  sales associate for Illinois-based Ervin Equipment Inc.

   “A few years ago they were even cheaper,” added Chad. One of the reasons is that prices of scrap aluminum, like scrap steel, have increased in recent years.

   Sheet and post trailers are made with an exterior of aluminum sheeting that is attached to metal posts, and wooden sheathing covers the interior. Pallets, other transport packaging and  goods may snag on the wooden sheathing during loading and unloading, and the plywood can be damaged.

  “The plywood is easy to damage,” Chad noted. “You can easily go through $500 a year replacing the plywood.” In addition, if the plywood is punctured, the damage may extend to the exterior of the trailer.

   Aluminum plate construction provides a smooth surface over the interior framing and is stronger and more durable than plywood, Chad observed, and it typically lasts longer.

   Another change in recent years also has made aluminum plate trailers more attractive. “The new standard is now the 53-foot trailer,” said Chad. “Ten years ago it was 48 feet, but there is not much of a demand for those any more.” Both are 102 inches wide, he noted, but a 53-foot trailer can hold another row of pallets.

   Ervin Equipment supplies trailers to some other industries, but its primary market is the pallet industry. It specializes in used trailers, mainly aluminum plate. The trailers are effective for hauling other freight besides pallets, noted Chad, such as recycled cardboard, plastics, barrels, baled goods, etc.

   Having a fleet of trailers is a necessity for any sizeable pallet recycling business, Chad observed. “Some of their customers want a trailer to be parked at a particular site to act as a kind of warehouse until the pallets are unloaded,” he said. Many pallet recycling companies provide this kind of service; when the trailer at the customer site is filled with used pallets, the recycler drops off an empty trailer, and the tractor hauls away the one that is full.

   Ervin Equipment has 13 locations throughout the U.S., including California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Atlanta, Tennessee, Ohio and Missouri.

   The company also deals in large volumes of trailers. “We buy 500 to 600 a month,” said Chad. “If a pallet company wants to buy a large fleet, we have 1,200 available. We can sell up to 500 at a time. That’s unheard of in this business.”

   “We meet a lot of pallet company operators through trade shows and other contacts,” said Chad. “Some have small operations with as few as five to 10 trailers. Others have up to 500. There is a wide variety. We can handle all those calls. If you want 50 trailers, we have them on the ground, ready to go.”

   Roy Flanz, president of American ConeXion in Detroit, purchased three trailers recently from Ervin Equipment. “I used to have plywood or poster trailers, but they always got torn up,” he said. “These aluminum plate ones are much better. I shop around, but the others don’t have as many trailers. And I also look at the shape of the sides and roofs. Some of the others actually cost more but are not as in as good condition. And these wider ones are so much more convenient. You can get so many more pallets in the trailer.”

    “We got 30 trailers about a month ago” from Ervin Equipment, said Victor Carrascal, president of Monison Pallet in Miami. “We are getting rid of our plywood ones; we had many problems with holes in the sides. The width of these trailers is very good. You can line the pallets up straight and fill the sides. As a company we are growing very fast, and we feel these trailers make us efficient. We found Ervin to be very helpful and are satisfied with its service.”

   Ray Rodriguez, president of American Paltech in Belvedere, Ill., turned to Ervin Equipment recently when it replaced trailers. “We bought 50 trailers about three weeks ago,” he said. “We’ve added some new accounts and are replacing our old trailers. These won’t suffer as much internal damage. Customers are not always as kind to the trailers as we would like. And these 53-foot trailers can maximize loads. For customers it’s all about freight. We’ve found these aluminum plate trailers to be an excellent value.”

   Ervin Equipment also can supply trailers painted with a company’s colors, logo, or signage. The trailer company also provides leases.

   “We have a lease-to-own option,” Chad said. On a minimum order of 10 trailers, Ervin Equipment will lease them for $115 (per trailer) per month. “At the end of the lease, they can purchase the trailers outright or turn them back in,” said Chad.

   To contact Ervin Equipment Inc., call (877) 873-6863 or visit the web site at www.ervineq.com.

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