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Mondi Sells UNIPAL Rights, New Owners Looking for Strategic Business Partners
Mondi sells UNIPAL rights, new owners look for strategic business partners.

By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 4/1/2010

            When most people think of a corrugated pallet, a sheet of corrugated paperboard with nine legs comes to mind. But that’s not what the future of corrugated pallets looks like. UNIPAL offers a unique vision for a pallet made with corrugated paperboard stringers that can compete with both wood and plastic better than the generic corrugated construction. That is the mission of Unipal International, Ltd. Co. (UIC) of Boise, Idaho, a newly formed company, that has bought the North American rights to the UNIPAL process from Mondi Technology Investments of Luxembourg.

            This new ownership group is looking to establish a national network of UNIPAL facilities through both company owned and licensee owned operations. This is a business opportunity for companies with manufacturing expertise that would like to secure a very unique, green packaging offering for a particular service area. There are currently three UNIPAL License operations in North America located in Pasadena, Texas (CorrPallet Inc.), Empaques Rio Grande (Matamorros, Mexico), and GreenLight Pallet Co. of Portland, Ore.

            UNIPAL is a modular system to manufacture corrugated pallets. The unique construction consisting of stringers and cross-stringers provides outstanding beam strength in all directions, according to Unipal.

            Given the recent focus on green solutions, efficient packaging and new ways of doing business, UNIPAL offers a number of advantages that could make people take a second look at corrugated pallets.


Green Packaging Benefits

            From an environmental perspective, UNIPAL is made from recycled corrugated, is 100% recyclable, and is exempt from international pest regulations, such as ISPM-15. UIC claims its pallets are 85% lighter than a typical GMA wood pallet, which reduces fuel costs. UNIPAL pallets can be shipped as components and assembled on site to improve the number of units that can fit on a trailer. Highly customizable, UNIPAL components can be assembled to make odd-sized pallets as well as crating, dunnage and containers. The UNIPAL pallet can be manufactured in a wide variety of sizes from 24x20 inches up to 75 x 60 inches.


Advantages of Corrugate

            Increased automation has intensified the need for tight tolerances in dimension and quality for pallet users. Corrugate pallets are assembled with adhesive not fasteners. Thus, there are no nails, splinters or sharp corners to snag product. UNIPAL offers added strength by using interlocking components to improve performance over many other corrugate designs. In an age where unsaleables can hamper profits and materials handling systems are becoming more finicky, the UNIPAL approach offers a unique solution.

            Typically constructed with eight pallet members and a top sheet, the UNIPAL design is truly a “pallet and skid” as it does not have bottom deck boards. 


Answers Previous Corrugate Drawbacks

            UNIPAL developers have addressed a number of the major obstacles for other corrugate pallet designs, including moisture resistance, strength and rackability. Sturdy, multiple layers of corrugate provide strength to UNIPAL designs. The Sardo Pallet Lab at Virginia Tech University has conducted tests on UNIPAL pallets and found them to be superior in performance in many areas to other corrugated pallets. Today, UNIPAL pallets are used to transport goods exceeding one ton in weight and are used in racking situations.

            The other major drawback of corrugated has been its tendency to lose strength and perform poorly when it gets wet. UNIPAL now uses corrugated paper treated with a water resistant, proprietary chemical. GreenLight Pallet has a video on its Web site that shows a UNIPAL pallet carrying over 1,800 lbs. that gets drenched and still performs well 24 hours later. According to GreenLight, UNIPAL pallets have carried heavy loads of product for weeks on container ships, throughout the world on aircraft and trucks, traveling thousands of miles cross country.


New Business Opportunity

            The primary hurdle for UNIPAL pallets in North America is that there are only a few manufacturers. UIC is looking to expand and develop a network of nationwide manufacturing partners and distributors. Companies with manufacturing expertise and a desire to expand to a new product line can get in on the ground floor as UIC seeks regional partners.

            A familiar name to the pallet industry, Automated Machine Systems has agreed to manufacture the equipment needed to construct UNIPAL components and assemble finished pallets.

            Larry Leasure, managing member of UIC, said, “Market interests in UNIPAL have increased significantly due to regulations and environmental pressures as well as increasing transportation costs.”

            Although UNIPAL is not a new product, UIC, as the new owner of the North American rights to the technology, brings a strong commitment to commercialize the technology and further develop the market in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Parties interested in finding out more should visit www.unipalinternational.com or 877-839-3943.

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