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Correction: Update on PDS and Best Pallet Comparison
Correction to previous coverage comparing the new Best Pallet and Pallet Design System software programs.

By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 11/1/2012

                The October issue of Pallet Enterprise carried an article on the new Best Pallet® design software. This articled contained information that turned out to be either incorrect or in some cases incomplete. This included information comparing details between Best Pallet and the Pallet Design System® (PDS), which is owned by the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA). As is sometimes the case with technical issues involving competing products, the devil is truly in the details.

                Even more controversy has arisen over a number of articles that Modern Materials Handling website recently carried that compared the two programs. Sam McAdow, the interim president of the NWPCA sent a letter to the publication seeking to clarify a few details.

                The first detail that needs to be clarified is who can lease a copy of the Pallet Design System. We incorrectly reported that the NWPCA will not lease the software to pallet users. While we were correct that the NWPCA discourages pallet users from leasing the software, the association does currently lease it to a few pallet users according to John McLeod, the director of PDS.

                McLeod wrote, “There are end-users of pallets that have the PDS software.  However, NWPCA’s Board of Directors does not recommend this. Wood pallet manufacturers – and not their customers – have the knowledge and expertise to design the most efficient and practical wood pallets to safely and reliably meet their customers’ requirements.  Also, NWPCA and the wood pallet industry spent several million dollars over many years to fund the R&D conducted at VT to develop this tool – and NWPCA continues to invest in R&D to make it an even more powerful design tool. PDS gives our industry the opportunity to directly work with customers to best meet their pallet and unit load handling requirements – rather than simply being ‘order-takers.’”

                The Pallet Enterprise was attempting to draw distinctions between the two approaches, which we were correct about since Best Pallet is currently being promoted to pallet users. But there were some details that needed more clarification. Also, the NWPCA offers a PDS creation service that is open to anyone and is actively utilized by pallet users and shippers. The NWPCA offers for lease the software to both association members and non-members. The distinction is the rate, which is meant to encourage pallet companies to join the association.

                Looking at Best Pallet and PDS, both products offer competing visions for working with pallet users. PDS is meant to drive pallet design to pallet companies who have the expertise to find the right solution. Best Pallet is intended to open up pallet design to a wider variety of people to encourage more people to view a pallet as a critical part of the shipping equation. The idea is that the more informed a customer is, the more likely he will be to make smarter pallet buying decisions. It’s up to you to decide which vision you think is best for the future.

                Modern Material Handling also mentioned in its coverage that White was the “lead developer of PDS.” The Pallet Enterprise stated that White “led the team for years which developed PDS.” Sam McAdow stated in his letter to the magazine, “Although Dr. White was involved in the management of the PDS program at Virginia Tech, he did not write the PDS software and cannot truthfully claim he was the lead developer.”

                The Pallet Enterprise never meant to suggest that White actually wrote any of the PDS code. A number of people were involved in conducting research and developing software over a 30 year period to make PDS what it is today. This includes John McLeod, Dr. Thomas McLain, Dr. Terry Gerhardt, Dr. Joseph Loferski, Dr. Mark White, Heidi Glasser, Kelly Mulheren, Dr. Frank Woeste, Curt Mackes and Jiqiang Cao. To find out more information about the history of PDS, visit http://www.palletcentral.com/images/files/PDSNewsIssue8.pdf

                Further PDS development has been actively overseen by the NWPCA since May 2005 when McLeod joined the association full time. And as a result, White has not been involved with PDS development since that time, including the latest version that was released last year.

                In our coverage, there was never any purposeful intent to misstate facts or deny anyone the credit that they deserve. The Pallet Enterprise recognizes that a wide variety of people have been involved in the development and improvement of PDS. We do regret that space limitations kept us from a more complete coverage of this issue. Thus, we have decided to print this clarification to ensure that all the facts are out there in print.


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