When a major UK food manufacturer of ready meals and snacks – best known for its popular tinned fish, pastas, canned fruit and pulses – was looking for a pallet capable of handling bulk dried ingredients in its new raw materials warehouse, Goplasticpallets.com was able to deliver the perfect solution.
Specifically, a plastic pallet solution was needed for the handling of dried pulses that are stored in large flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBC). Each bulk bag can hold up to 2,000kg of dried ingredients, so this application required a strong pallet capable of handling these heavy loads reliably and through many cycles.
The plastic pallet was going to be used within a new semi-automated high-density storage system that utilises a deep-lane shuttle carrier to put away and retrieve pallets within a specially designed rack structure. This optimises the usable space in the warehouse, creates operational efficiencies for the storage and retrieval of ingredients and helps with stock rotation in a FIFO system.
The storage of bulk bags on pallets can be problematic. Their shape is never exactly the same and they often lean sideways, making it difficult to load and position them centrally on a pallet. Point loads on the pallet deck can then be created, which transfer through the structure of the pallet giving a non-uniformly distributed load that can cause high deflection when in racking. The automation within the storage system being used detailed some very specific tolerances on deflection that the pallets had to meet, so it was essential that the pallet complied to ensure that the storage and retrieval process would work effectively and consistently through numerous cycles.
Goplasticpallets.com consulted extensively with the food manufacturer to help determine the key performance specification – a robust, heavy-duty plastic pallet of 1,200 x 1,000mm footprint that would meet the demanding minimal deflection criteria.
Goplasticpallets.com was ideally placed to create a shortlist of potential pallets based on the required specification and functionality, then worked closely with the technical team at Cabka-IPS to conduct an ‘application’ trial to establish conclusively which plastic pallet would exactly match the demands of the application. Goplasticpallets.com requested samples of the dried pulses in their exact packaging format to replicate the actual physical loads that were being handled to give very specific data on the pallet performance within the storage system. The tests were performed on a number of different plastic pallet types and materials, including pallets made of recycled plastic, and repeated multiple times with the test data recorded for each pallet tested.
All the application tests were conducted in accordance with ISO 8611-1:2011 Pallets for materials handling – Flat pallets – Part 1: Test methods and all the results were recorded and analysed to ensure the pallet specified was wholly fit for purpose.
This ‘bench test’ created a bank of data that allowed comparisons to be made and ensured that the pallet specification was matched against the performance criteria that was required. The purchase cost of the pallet could then be factored into the project budget.
Following the application trial, Goplasticpallets.com recommended for the application the APB 1210 Super Pool 5R pallet in virgin grade Polypropylene material. Structural and well-designed, this heavy duty 1,200mm (L) x 1,000mm (W) x 165mm (W) plastic pallet is proven for long term use in multi-trip supply chain scenarios. Capable of storing static loads of 6,000kg, it can also handle dynamic loads of up to 3,000kg.
Manufactured in a virgin grade, high quality Polypropylene (PP) material, the pallet specified adheres to the Food Contact Materials Regulation (EC) 1935/2004.
The flat smooth upper deck ensures no sharp edges that could lead to the bulk bags being snagged and torn. The pallet is a full perimeter five runner base configuration that can be used with all of the normal materials handling equipment such as forklift trucks and pedestrian power trucks, as well as running on automation in the warehouse such as pallet inverters, roller conveyors and shuttle carriers.
This is an ideal pallet for use within food applications. The structure of the pallet is well designed with no dirt traps. Both the top and underside of the pallet deck and runners are smooth and radiused with no sharp edges, minimising dirty traps in use. This pallet is easy to wash and dry in a fully automatic pallet wash machine, which was an important element in this application where the pallet needs to be washed frequently to ensure compliance with the internal GMP (good manufacturing practices) of the food manufacturing sector.
The pallet can be printed for identification and supplied in a range of colours. There are specific areas on the outside corner blocks of the pallets where labels can be securely fixed and it is also possible to optimise the management of the pallets using an electronic ‘track and trace’ system by fitting RFID tags internally within the pallet structure.
A second, lower specification pallet was also supplied for use in another different storage application within the warehouse. This was for storage of other ingredients with a much lower tare weight and being stored within a more conventional, two beam back-to-back rack system. The pallet recommended for this task was the Cabka-IPS ER100L 5R in recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE).
Within the application there was also a need for some of the pallets to be barcoded to enable easy electronic identification of the pallets. Goplasticpallets.com worked with the project team to specify, supply and fix the labels onto the pallets prior to delivery.
During November 2020, Goplasticpallets.com supplied the food manufacturer with 2394 of its APB 1210 Super Pool 5R pallets with a further 390 expected to be delivered in the coming weeks to supplement the growth of business.