AMS Repair Equipment Helps Oakland Pallet Succeed with Hybrid Pallets
Oakland Pallet, a California-based company stays ahead of the competition by using AMS repair equipment to efficiently produce combo pallets and relies on the AMS Palmate ERP to track production, communicate with customers and improve its website capabilities.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 11/1/2013
What started with hard work and a drive to provide a better living for his family has grown into a thriving pallet manufacturing and repair business serving customers throughout northern and central California. Jose G. Padilla Sr. began working for himself in 1985 after a decade of experience in the pallet industry. Staying ahead of the competition has been a key reason for the success of Padilla’s company, Oakland Pallet Co. located in San Lorenzo, Calif.
Manuel Padilla, head of sales and marketing for Oakland Pallet, explained that his company has created a market niche by offering hybrid pallets, which has a combination of both new and used wood remanufactured to offer a hybrid pallet. This option is cheaper than a new pallet while it is better quality than most used pallets. Manuel said, “Our extensive pallet dismantling department which consist of 14 work stations has allowed us to offer different options to meet our customer’s budget requirements.”
Equipment from Automated Machine Systems (AMS) is at the heart of both the physical plant and the internal management of the operations at Oakland Pallet’s Modesto facility. It uses an AMS pallet repair and sortation line to dismantle and repair pallets that works in conjunction with AMS’ PalMate® Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software program. Manuel said, “The AMS repair line has allowed us to increase our production per employee, reduce back-related injuries and streamline production counts.”
Leading from the Front
Beyond the equipment which gives Oakland Pallet versatility, it has strived to develop a strong reputation in the marketplace. It was the first pallet company in California to be recognized as a Green Business by the Bay Area Green Business Program (www.greenbiz.ca.gov). Oakland Pallet recovered over 600,000 cubic yards of material last year.
Manuel said that this recognition “distinguishes our business as environmentally conscious and a green steward of our community and client base.”
Beyond just hype, Oakland Pallet has made real changes to improve its environmental footprint. This includes putting into service new fuel-efficient, low emission trucks as well as installing solar panels at its plants. Extensive use of recycled lumber in hybrid pallets further establishes its sustainability credentials. Oakland Pallet also tests pallet designs using the Pallet Design System (PDS) to look for ways to produce the most cost effective pallet while meeting all of the customer’s needs.
Knowing that customers are increasingly going online for answers as well as to conduct business transactions, Oakland Pallet was one of the first businesses to incorporate social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, into its online marketing strategy, according to Manuel. The company plans to launch a redesigned website soon with a shopping cart capability and customer log in interface. This will allow customers to track orders and place orders without having to pick up the phone. These new website enhancements work seamlessly with new modules recently developed by AMS for its PalMate ERP.
Manuel said, “Our new website will allow us to keep up with these demands by creating a streamlined and efficient pallet ordering process for new and existing account holders. The website will also facilitate and enable us to expand our client base by creating an easy and fast way to create new accounts.”
Oakland Pallet is very active in the industry; it is a member of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association and the Western Pallet Association.
Impressive Growth from Humble Beginnings
Jose Sr. started his company in his garage. Today, it has three locations in California – San Lorenzo, Tracy and Modesto. Employing more than 150 people, it repairs, builds, processes and delivers over 4.5 million pallets per year. Oakland Pallet offers GMA pallets in various grades as well as many custom sizes.
Manuel stated, “Oakland Pallet prides itself in providing premier customer service, product value and transparency, which all add up to customer loyalty.”
Step-By-Step Process Overview
For the recycled pallet line, it all starts with sorting incoming cores into four categories – good as is, repair, tear down and grind into mulch. Manuel said, “Sorting is something that is a relatively new process for us. We have found it to be cost effective to sort our higher quality cores. We have also expanded our tear down department to increase the volume of recycled lumber for use in our pallet production department.”
Tear down pallets are dismantled on Smart dismantlers and cut to usable sizes on Grizzly and PRS trim saws for the use in repair and remanufacturing of hybrid pallets.
Good pallets are routed to an AMS stacker and immediately put into inventory. Broken cores in need of repair are routed directly into the AMS repair line. This includes AMS bandsaw dismantlers and nailing stations. At other plants, Oakland Pallet uses SMETCO repair tables and stackers.
Junk pallets are ground up in a West Salem Brute grinder to produce mulch at the San Lorenzo plant. The Modesto facility uses a Rotochopper wood grinder.
The majority of its material is cut stock out of Oregon as well as random length 2x4 and 2x6 received by rail car at our Modesto facility. New pallets are produced by hand while large orders are made on a Storti tandem pallet nailer. A Brewer double head notcher is used to notch stringers, while a Brewer resaw cuts down 2x4s.
Some pallets are then sent to be heat treated in one of three units. It treats about 25,000 pallets per month; Oakland Pallet has one Kiln-direct chamber and two Temp-Air units. Manuel commented, “Initially we had to outsource the heat treatment of pallets, which was very costly and time consuming. By acquiring the kilns we have been able to reduce cost and have created a more efficient turn around for our customers.”
Another way that Oakland Pallet has improved customer service is by increasing the size of its trailer fleet. It now boasts 180 trailers (53’ dry vans, 48’, & sets of double trailers). This has provided an added value service to our customers as well as reduced our driver down time, according to Manuel.
The AMS Advantage
The key to efficiency for Oakland Pallet has been its successful integration of its PalMate ERP software with its production process. Pallets are counted by workers using a push button system that automatically integrates pallet counts into PalMate for use in payroll as well as updating inventories.
Explaining why the company chose AMS, Manuel said, “Customer service is a large factor as to why we have invested in AMS. The flexibility of the software customization to meet our needs. This led us to also take the step to purchase the pallet repair line from AMS.”
Manuel added, “We were in the market for an ERP system and considered Mas-90 and SAP. We learned about PalMate and became interested in it because of the cost effectiveness and flexibility in tailoring it to our specific needs. It has allowed us to streamline our front end and back end processes.”
PalMate has allowed Oakland Pallet to better assess the quality of the cores it receives from different vendors, which has improved the company’s ability to price cores more competitively when a particular supplier offers better value, according to Manuel.
The three most crucial report that the company monitors from PalMate are customer sales reports pallet repair line production numbers and delivery details. The customer sales reports have helped the company to monitor customer order trends, which otherwise would have taken tedious hours of manually collected data. PalMate efficiently tracks the line production, which is made difficult by the number of pallet grades the company produces. And the shipper data reporting capabilities of PalMate enhance Oakland Pallet’s ability to easily manage its drivers and maximize driver performance.
Hard Work, Family and Community Drive Success
Oakland Pallet is heavily involved in its community, including sponsoring organizations like Mothers against Drunk Driving, Boys & Girls Club, Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, The Special Olympics, and the Alameda County Food Bank. Manuel said, “We’re proud and more than happy to give to these charities, but Oakland Pallet has always been a family-centric business. Our six partners are all related and have all grown up in California’s East Bay. They’ve specifically made it their goal to help local organizations that supported us when they were young. We’ve been able to sponsor three youth soccer teams each season for the past five years because we believe sports is a fundamental stepping stone for our local youth.”
One of the big joys of the company is that its key managers and owners are all part of the same family. Manuel said, “The real success is the fact that we were able to achieve this as a family. We work hard together, we look out for one another, and everyone wants each other to do well and succeed.”
PalMate® Offers Business Intelligence Capabilities Tailored to the Needs of the Pallet Industry
The PalMate® Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution was first introduced to the pallet industry in 2002. At its inception, PalMate was used primarily to track sort and repair counts for pallet recyclers. In fact, the very first application included a special feature to help grade used pallets based on the presence of various biological contaminates.
From those modest beginnings, PalMate has grown and developed into a complete business management solution for the pallet and lumber industry. Today, PalMate ERP provides a flexible framework of business tools to help streamline communication while fully integrating both back office and plant floor operations. Over the past 11 years, the Automated Machine Systems (AMS) team of professional developers has been working directly with industry leaders to create a customized software solution that will better support the industry’s business processes and workflow. As a result, each user interface has been designed to model the industry’s best practices in key processes such as: order processing, scheduling, purchasing, and inventory control.
AMS’ committed team of software professionals is continually adding new tools to the PalMate software suite while helping existing users implement solutions that boost their efficiency, increase productivity, help manage costs and improve their bottom line.
What’s new with PalMate?
• Constant implementation of data collection systems utilizing the latest technology, including: tablet PCs, portable label printers, Bluetooth scanners and other wireless devices. AMS strives to keep hardware costs low while adding value everywhere possible, making plant floor data collection affordable and effective.
• PalMate Online gives your customers the ability to place orders online or request pickups for used pallets to be repaired. PalMate’s online portal even enables your drivers to electronically collect delivery signatures on a BOL with a WIFI equipped smart phone or tablet PC.
• The current PalMate 2.0 release is a powerhouse of new features and reports. With it users can efficiently and successfully track employee productivity, compensation, piece rate calculation, job costing and much more.
Contact AMS today to schedule a free web demo and find out why PalMate ERP has become a trusted leader in the pallet and lumber industry.
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