Investigation and Analysis of the Effect of Industrial Drums and Plastic Pails on Wooden Pallets throughout the Supply Chain
Alvarez Valverde, Mary Paz
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In the supply chain there are three components: transportation method, the pallet, and the packaging. Traditionally, there has been a poor understanding of the way that pallet design can impact the supply chain. There are historical studies that illustrate the importance of investigating how box stacking pattern, unit load type, unit load size, and containment can impact the pallet's performance. However, there have been no studies that have investigated the impact of drums and plastic pails on pallet performance. The goal of the current research study was to investigate how plastic pails and drums affect pallet bending and the distribution of the pressure on the top surface of the pallet. The investigation was conducted using four different support conditions commonly found in warehouses: racking across the width and length, single stacking, and double stacking. The results of the investigation indicated that for most support conditions, loading the pallet with plastic pails or drums results in a significant reduction in deflection when compared to a uniformly distributed load. The maximum observed reduction in pallet deflection was 85% when testing with drums in the double stack condition and 89% when testing with plastic pails in the single stack condition. The large reductions in deflection could indicate that the pallets were over-designed for the unit load that they were supporting. Pressure mat distribution images collected during the experiment display a load bridging effect where the stress of the drums and pails are redistributed to the supported sides of the pallet. The data also show that drums made of different materials distribute the pressure onto the pallet in a significantly different manner.
General Audience Abstract
Wood pallets are crucial to the supply chain that delivers the goods and objects that sustain our economy. Every product order or product that is seen in stores was sent through the supply chain. The supply chain is made up of three major interacting components, the material handling system, the packaging, and the pallet. By further understanding the interaction between these components, pallet and packaging designers can better utilize materials and maximize the efficiency of the supply chain. There is a need to understand how different types of packages interact with the pallet to effectively design pallets and to potentially reduce costs and material usage. Historical studies focused on investigating how corrugated boxes affect pallet performance. They mainly focused on the effect of corrugated box size, flute type, stretch wrapping and containment, and the influences that pallet design have on pallet performance. Past studies identified that packages on the top of the pallet could create a bridging between the packages that can reduce the stresses on the pallet and consequently increase its load capacity. By using this load bridging effect for their advantage, pallet designers can design pallets that are safer, cheaper, and be more environmentally friendly since current wood pallets are designed under the assumption of a uniformly distributed, rather than bridged, load. The goal of the current study was to investigate how the load bridging effect created by pails and drum affects the deflection of the pallet in the floor stacked loading condition. The investigation was conducted using four different support conditions commonly found in warehouses such as racking across the length, racking across the width, single stacking, and double stacking. The results of the investigation indicated that for most investigated support conditions, the interaction between pails and drums causes an increase in load bridging which significantly reduces the bending of the pallet. The reductions reached a maximum of 85% when testing with drums in the double stack condition and 89% when testing with plastic pails in the single stack condition. The large reductions in deflection could indicate that the pallets were over-designed for the unit load that they were supporting.
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