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Plastic Pallets Available with Wide Range of Designs, Features, Properties
Alternative Pallet Guide: A grid showcasing a wide range of pallets made of plastic and other alternative materials. This guide is designed to help wood pallet companies find unique pallets for specialty applications.

By Staff
Date Posted: 11/1/2007

   Manufacturers of pallets made of alternative materials offer pallet suppliers a diverse range of transport packaging to meet the needs of customers.

   Plastic remains the leading alternative material used in manufacturing pallets, but companies also offer pallets made of metal, composite materials and corrugated.

   As the tables show there is a wide range of alternative pallets available in the market place. Dynamic strength may vary from as little as 500 pounds to a high of 40,000 pounds. Many pallets offer rackability and nestability. Designs include block-style pallets as well as stringer pallets, two-way entry or four-way entry, from the standard GMA footprint to custom sizes.

   Although durable reusable pallets have their applications, manufacturers also offer expendable and export pallets. Wood pallets for export shipments must meet global phytosanitary requirements – the pallets must be fumigated or the pallets or lumber heat-treated to eliminate wood-eating insects – but the requirements do not apply to plastic and other materials.

   Reusable pallets, whether made of wood or plastic, are well suited for such applications as pools or closed loops as well as captive pallets used in warehouse racks, etc. The ability to track and manage reusable pallets has gained importance because of the value of these assets. (See article on page 10.)

   Pallets made of alternative pallets, especially plastic, clearly have a niche in material handling and logistics.

   When it comes to plastic pallets, there are a number of different designs and molding technologies. Some pallets are one piece construction while others may be two or more pieces that are fastened or locked together. Plastic pallets are available with various features, such as coatings or designs to increase slip resistance, features for containing spills, and more. Some plastic pallets also feature metal reinforcements. In addition, some companies manufacture plastic material by extruding profiles that can be cut or sawn like lumber and assembled in similar fashion as wood pallets; the use of ‘plastic lumber’ more readily enables the manufacture of pallets in custom sizes.


Four Types of Suppliers

   When it comes to pallets made of alternative materials, especially plastic, four types of companies serve the market: manufacturers, custom fabricators-developers, stock distributors, and regular distributors.

   Manufacturers may or may not supply small orders, depending on the company. They tend to be big companies with a large catalog of plastic pallet products or small with a few specialized designs and molds for niche applications.

   Custom fabricators usually specialize in one type of packaging design, although many can do just about anything. They may or may not have a packaging engineer on staff. Fabricators can combine different materials for the best design, and they may have experience with dunnage and racking systems, too.

   Stock distributors are closely allied with manufacturers. They stock popular sizes and styles, and they may have exclusive marketing or distribution rights over a certain territory. Some manufacturers prefer to sell to large distributors, and the distributors may be able to offer a better price. Stock distributors may be closer, reducing shipping costs. They also may provide more service than a manufacturer.

   Regular distributors are brokers. They never take possession of the packaging and do not carry stock.

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