Pallets serve as the backbone of storage systems throughout various industries. They are responsible for the safe storage and transportation of millions of dollars worth of products. Thus, they are the foundation of many industries including construction, grocery, and manufacturing. Safe rack utilization is a key factor for the operator of a warehouse or any other storage facility. They will vouch for the risks of injuries pertaining to pallet handling, loading, and unloading.
Usually the designing of industrial storage rack systems is done in a way to support a particular kind of pallet and load. But just placing the approved pallet into a storage position isn’t enough to ensure the safety of the structure and facility personnel. An equally important factor to safe rack utilization is the quality and condition of the pallet itself.
In a survey conducted by Modern Material Handling, workers were asked how often they face pallet-related issues with their storage equipment operations. The biggest issue that surfaced was poor quality or bottom boards that result in jams or faults. Fifty-three percent of respondents deal with this problem on either a daily or weekly basis; while another 25% say it happens monthly.
In case of the most-used pallet rack systems, the pallet and its load either rest on beams, carts and rails (pushback racking), or roller tracks (pallet flow systems). This is where the quality of pallets comes into the picture. A pallet with damaged, weak or cracked bottom boards resting on the beams is more likely to cause injuries to the workers. If you’re using a pallet like that, there’s higher potential for the pallet to collapse and its load to fall through the beams.
At times, in order to cut costs, companies that sacrifice pallet quality will usually fall victim to perils such as ruined goods, injuries, and in turn, a damaged reputation. There could be several quality issues with pallets that might lead to product damage, or injury, such as:
- Protruding nails can tear the packaging.
- Low quality wood can buckle under weight.
- Imperfections in construction can cause a load to tumble
These quality issues combined with structural inconsistencies can cause jams, snags or obstructions that impede the flow of loads through a pushback or pallet flow system. In case of such a blockage, the operator has to unload and reload the system to clear the jam, which ultimately slows productivity. Moreover, a pallet of poor quality or built could cause damage to the rack structure itself during placement or removal.
Due to the above considerations, it is imperative that you thoroughly inspect pallet quality while acquiring them; and strictly adhere to the specifications and your requirements. The receiving personnel and forklift operators should be trained to identify and report pallet quality or condition problems. There should be regular inspection and your personnel must report any damage detected in pallets to the management immediately. Damaged pallets should then be removed from the operation and their loads re-palletized onto an intact pallet that matches the storage rack’s design.