The modern warehouse environment has evolved considerably over the past few years, incorporating new technologies that help businesses run smarter, more efficient operations. A pallet’s role in these operations is integral. Despite this, however, pallet technology has remained relatively consistent, and innovations have been slow to gain acceptance.
For forward-thinking material handling operations, however, there has never been a better time than now to be a change leader. Early adoption of new pallet materials and technologies will position businesses for success in the future. Let’s take a look at what some of the next-generation pallets currently available for sale have to offer.
Pallet Tracking Technology
As supply chains become increasingly global and customers demand greater transparency as to how products and materials move through them, pallet tracking technology will become increasingly important. By embedding RFID chips directly into pallet materials, it is possible to track and trace individual pallets in real-time.
RFID pallet tracking technology allows you to demonstrate a verified chain of custody and provide actionable reporting for audit or investigation purposes. Pallet tracking can help businesses manage recalls and expiration dates, minimizing product loss and getting items to their end users in an efficient, cost-effective manner.
High-Strength Composite Materials
Composite pallets made from thermoset and similar materials have a number of advantages over wood and traditional plastics. Thermoset has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than other materials. It is also easier to clean and is resistant to moisture and fire.
As well, it is possible to treat composite materials with antibacterial coatings or anti-slip surfaces that actively prevent on-the-job accidents. Unlike wood, thermoset composite pallets won’t degrade over time, making them a better long-term investment for busy operations.
Challenges to Adoption
Both thermoset plastics and RFID tracking have the potential to revolutionize the way material handling and logistics businesses operate. However, products that combine both technologies are expensive, presenting issues when attempting to scale operations upwards. Several high-profile failures have made investors skittish, which makes it difficult for manufacturers to achieve the kind of market saturation they need to stay afloat. This is an issue of particular concern for manufacturers that adopt the pooling model of renting out pallets rather than selling directly to the consumer.
A second issue is that several recent new product launches have been overhyped and failed to live up to their value proposition. The iGPS composite, for example, suffered higher-than-anticipated damage rates, persistent design flaws and higher lifecycle costs over the course of the unit — issues that eventually doomed it.
Making Informed Investments
As a critical component of the rapidly evolving material handling sector, pallet technology is due for a change. That so many businesses continue to use unreliable, dangerous and low-tech wooden pallets is at odds with the other innovations in automation occurring in today’s warehouses and distribution centers.
Better pallets are currently available. However, making informed investments requires looking beyond the hype. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and demand accountability in the form of hard statistics and proven studies.
To learn more about Polymer Solutions International, Inc.’s products and the benefits they can offer your business, browse our website, start a Live Chat Session or contact us directly at 610-325-7500.