The Effect of Pallet Top Deck Stiffness on the Compression Strength of Asymmetrically Supported Corrugated Boxes
Quesenberry, Chandler Blake
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During unitized shipment, the components of unit loads are interacting with each other. During floor stacking of unit loads, the load on the top of the pallet causes the top deck of the pallet to bend which creates an uneven top deck surface resulting in uneven, or asymmetrical support of the corrugated boxes. This asymmetrical support could significantly affect the strength of the corrugated boxes, and it depends on the top deck stiffness of the pallet. This study is aimed at investigating how the variations of pallet top deck stiffness and the resulting asymmetric support, affects corrugated box compression strength. Pallet top deck stiffness was determined to have a significant effect on box compression strength. There was a 27-37% increase in box compression strength for boxes supported by high stiffness pallets in comparison to low stiffness pallets. The fact that boxes were weaker on low stiffness pallets could be explained by the uneven pressure distribution between the pallet deck and bottom layer of boxes. Pressure data showed that a higher percentage of total pressure was located under the box sidewalls that were supported on the outside stringers of low stiffness pallets in comparison to high stiffness pallets. This was disproportionately loading one side of the box. Utilizing the effects of pallet top deck stiffness on box compression performance, a unit load cost analysis is presented showing that a stiffer pallet can be used to carry boxes with less board material; hence, it can reduce the total unit load packaging cost.
General Audience Abstract
Packaged products are primarily shipped as unit loads that consist of packaged products restrained to a platform, commonly a pallet. Paying particular attention to the design of the unit loads' components is necessary to safely ship products while still maintaining low packaging costs and sustainability initiatives. Stacking unit loads is a common practice to effectively use warehouse space, but warehouse stacking causes large amounts of weight for packaging to support. Pallets are not completely rigid and will deform because of this weight. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of pallet stiffness on the compression strength of corrugated boxes. Compression tests were completed on boxes supported by pallet designs having different deck stiffnesses. The top deck stiffness of a pallet was determined to have up to a 37% effect on the strength of corrugated boxes. Pressure data recorded between the bottom layer of boxes and the top deck of the pallet showed a larger percentage of pressure was located towards the outside edges of the unit load for boxes carried by a flexible pallet. Effectively, one side of the box was stressed more than the other causing package failure. Utilizing the effects of pallet top deck stiffness on box compression performance, a unit load cost analysis is presented showing that a stiffer pallet can be used to carry boxes with less board material; hence, it can reduce the total unit load packaging cost.
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