Investigation into Pallet Durability Throughout the Hazards that Pallets Experience During Regular Use and Handling

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Virginia Tech


Pallet durability is a key characteristic with significant impact on a company's supply chain. Physical durability is defined as the number of trips that the pallet will accomplish before requiring repairs. Numerous studies have focused on understanding how durability is affected by different pallet components and warehouse environment characteristics. The VPI FasTrack is a testing sequence created to predict the performance of a pallet in a warehouse environment through different handling modes. However, this simulation has not been updated since its creation in 1993; therefore, a revision is needed to make it more closely reflect the behavior of a pallet in terms of durability. The objective of the current research was to investigate the ability of the FasTrack procedure to replicate the damages caused by material handling and storage systems in modern warehouses. This investigation was conducted through visual inspections of the damages seen on pallets used in the field, and pallets tested with FasTrack. The results of this study show the differences between the simulation-tested pallets and those from the field. The FasTrack simulation focuses heavily on top lead deckboard and stringer damage. The occurrence of damage modes such as splits and missing wood, were identified for these components. It was found that most of the damages from this simulation are created due to forklift handling.
Because of substantial forklift handling damages, an experimental design was developed to investigate the effects of entry speed, payload, forklift type, and pallet design on the stresses exerted on a pallet, measured in terms of peak acceleration. The factors with the greatest effect on forklift peak acceleration and pallet peak acceleration were identified. The research shows that the acceleration in the pallet is approximately 4.4 times greater than the acceleration recorded in the forklift; however, the model of pallet acceleration based on forklift acceleration as a predictor shows poor performance.
Different modifications to FasTrack are proposed according to the findings of this research. It is advised that they continue the FasTrack procedure past the point of repairable damage in a pallet, which is the usual practice when pallets are handled in the field. Further investigation of steps such as the flow rack and the stack storage are proposed, due to their low damage output during the simulation. The experimental design also showed that different damage severity levels from the FasTrack simulation are possible with variations in top load and entry speed. These changes could improve the ability of the VPI FasTrack to replicate the damages that pallets experience in the field.



Pallets, Durability, Forklift, Sensors, Damage modes, Shock Impact, FasTrack