Category Archives: PTM Solutions Blog

The History of Shipping and Containerization

The advent of modern shipping and its containerization systems have revolutionized the way business is done, affecting not only how cargo is sent but also what is sent. Modern methods are much safer and reliable, the two factors attributing to the radical change seen in supply chain structures, profit margins, and essentially, the global economy. Now, trillions of dollars shift hands each year as a result of worldwide trading, and transportation systems.

But this wasn’t always the case. While shipping methods haven’t evolved much since the late 19th century, (except the introduction of air shipments), the world of containerization has seen drastic advancements thanks to one man: Malcolm McLean.

Pre-Modernization

Before the mid-20th century, the shipping method was extremely lengthy and potentially dangerous for the cargo, as it involved units constantly being loaded and unloaded separately from trucks, to train, to ships.

The process was also costly, as labor would have to be assigned to the cargo throughout the way, at different points during transit. The units required extensive dismantling, and assembling, to be transported giving rise to numerous technical restrictions. This process was called breakbulk shipping.

Breakbulk shipping had numerous risks associated with it; for the cargo, and the shoremen. Thefts, and misappropriation of perishables, were major risks shippers had to face since cargo was mostly sent out in boxes and crates of different shapes and sizes, or was simply tied together with nets and ropes.

To mitigate these risks, cargo was loaded carefully and ships often spent more time on the dock than in the sea, resulting in the low appeal for shipping items offshore.

Modernization

In the latter half of the 20th century, the second industrial revolution had pushed the railroad system to its peak. Transporting people from one city to another had become quick and convenient, yet the same couldn’t be said about cargo. This served as a major hindrance for businesses looking to expand, as the slow loading processes would lead to severe backlogs in cargo stations; for both, trains, and ships.

In 1952, Malcolm McLean, the founder of the fifth largest transportation company in the United States, devised what would revolutionize the shipping industry – containerization. To save time, effort, and money, he created a standard-sized trailer that could be loaded on boats and trucks alike. Although he developed numerous different models, he settled for a relatively primitive model that featured no unique qualities, such as fancy designs or locks, but was stackable instead.

The stack-ability of the new containers reduced the danger of theft considerably since these could only be lifted with the help of a crane.

Malcolm McLean bought an oil tanker; the legendary SS Ideal X, and modified it to hold up to 58 containers along with 15,000 tons of petrol. The containers were a huge success, not only in terms of reliability, but also costs; considering that McLean offered a 25% discount against their competitors, on their first dock!

Revolutionizing the Air Freight Industry

While the first airfreight flight was on November 7, 1910, between Daytona and Ohio, it couldn’t gain as much traction as train or ship cargos had, due to a series of accidents that threatened bankruptcy for the operating companies – U.S Airlines, and Airnews. It was only in the 1980s that an entrepreneur named Fred Smith contested the combining of passenger and freight flights (as was the general practice of the time), and believed they should have different routes as well.

In essence, Fred Smith brought airfreight back to the market, promising next-day delivery for cargo – something that no other freight service could offer. He soon claimed exclusive rights to air freight delivery, naming his service the Federal Express (FedEx).

Intermodal Freight

Intermodal is a shipping method that uses two or more different modes to transport cargo, without handling the freight itself.

Traditional intermodal transportation goes as far back as the 18th century, shifting between road and ship transport. After Malcolm’s containerization innovation, the face of intermodal freight changed. In 1977, the U.S transport authority enabled the formation of intermodal companies. One company that rose to be among  the largest transport companies in the world due to that was the above-mentioned FedEx.

In the era of globalization, many economies depend largely on trade for overall growth, be it the selling of goods and services, or their purchase. Containerized shipping offers a safer and much more cost-efficient solution for the transportation of all cargo.

To put the impact that the modernization of shipping and containerization has had on the global economy into perspective; consider the fact that in 1956 shipping a ton of loose cargo across the sea cost $5.86 per ton. Today with the help of modern containers and intermodal shipping procedures, this cost has been reduced to merely 16 cents per ton!

The shipping industry owes a lot to Malcolm McLean; the father of containerization. Without his idea, the transportation of cargo would have remained inconvenient and expensive until later on in the century. His standardized containers revolutionized the way economies exchanged with each other and grew. Additionally, the facilitation that cargo shipping now offers has been one of the main contenders in the increase of imports, exports, and variety goods for consumers.

Containerization and shipping has come a long way, and at PTM Solutions, we provide the most eco-friendly shipping option: plastic pallets. Contact us today to learn more about our plastic solutions.

RFID Tracking and Pallets – Explained

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) is a revolutionary technology that has helped managers track their products while sitting at the office since the early 2000s. The technology was first introduced in 1973, when the first patent holder, Charles Walton, made a transponder in a card and used it to open doors.

However, these days, RFIDs are used for much more than that. It is a useful tool that helps not only the general public but also companies and warehouses to track their assets during transit. RFIDs are similar to barcodes in the sense that both are used to track and capture information, inventory, or assets. However, where barcode only reads light and dark bands, RFID uses microchips that can contain extensive, diverse data.

Here, we explain how RFID tracking works and its pros and cons. Then, we’ll dive into how the technology combines with pallets to facilitate supply chain and operations managers in performing their duties diligently.

RFID – How It Works

An RFID system depends upon three major components: RFID tags, asset tracking software, and readers or antennae. Here’s a breakdown of each.

1. RFID Tags

Serving as the base for the technology, RFID tags are integrated circuit chips mounted on metal or plastic surfaces and transmit data to the RFID reader. These chips are mounted on plastic pallets to ensure that no mismanagement of assets occurs on behalf of managers, be it in warehouses, distribution centers, or facilities.

The tags themselves include a tiny antenna that allows it to transfer information to the reader (also known as an interrogator). The incorporation of these tags into pallets means that at any time, managers can track where their shipment is and update their inventory accounts accordingly.

These tags transmit frequencies ranging from 125 to 148.5 kHz in the low category and 850 MHz to 2.5 GHz, making them extremely versatile and easy to detect.

Further, there are two types of tags: active and passive.

· Active RFID Tags

Active tags usually contain battery-powered transmitters that can send a signal to the interrogator at any time. These are inserted in pallets to keep the stock in check. The antenna for active RFID readers is usually straight, yet short.

· Passive RFID Tags

Passive tags don’t transmit data beyond a certain point and are powered on only by RFID readers. These tags don’t send signals but generate a magnetic field in the presence of radio waves from the reader around their antenna (in the shape of a coil). The magnetic field then energizes the tag and begins transmitting the data to the reader.

2. Asset Tracking Software

This software can be designed in any way, that lets readers determine how far the target from the destination is or its general location. The software is then installed in the reader which programs the tag accordingly.

3. RFID Readers and Antennae

As mentioned above, the tags need antennae to transmit data, and similarly, the readers also need antennae to catch those signals.

Pros & Cons Of RFID

Pros

  • No line of sight required opposed to barcodes allowing easier tagging of good, especially on conveyor belts
  • No specific orientation required
  • Can reduce labor cost if used for inventory check-in
  • Improves digital visibility of goods by inputting data directly into tailored software
  • Tracking of pallets all across the supply chain
  • RFID can hold large amounts of data
  • No back-end database connection required
  • RFID chips are much more durable than barcode labels

Cons

  • Costly compared to barcodes
  • Although much more traceable, managing that data could be a lot more cumbersome for some
  • Different tag types in different industries, in different countries, means there might be room for incompatibility.

RFID Tracking & Pallets

PTM Solutions aims to take RFID to the next level by incorporating RFID chips into plastic pallets. Not only will this help you track your shipment, but the high durability of your pallets will also save you a lot of money in the long run. You won’t have to install new RFID chips into each batch of your products but would simply have to load your product or assets on one of your pallets.

The fact that you’ll be tracking the pallet and not the product itself will ensure that the investment of RFID tags is made only once. This will also save you time since you won’t have to keep programming new tags with your reader again and again.

Using RFID tags in your pallets can not only track your goods for you, but you can also use them for the original purpose: program doors to open for a certain pallet pool! Conveyer belts can be customized in a similar fashion to send a certain batch to a different location.

As we strive towards automation, RFID chips within plastic pallets are the perfect answer to helping you get ready for the future in a cost-effective manner. Autonomous cars, drone shipments, and other automated technologies might soon mean that these chips will be able to tell cars and drones where to deliver and where to return the pallets.

PTM Solutions offers you a cost-effective and reliable answer to future-proofing your business with the help of RFID enabled, durable pallets. Contact us for a quote for your next pallet order.

How To Reduce Product Damage With Plastic Pallet

Supply chain sustainability is almost always dependent on efficient packaging and transport. This includes lowering packaging cost while at the same time maintaining quality and reducing product damage in transit.

Most businesses have grown accustomed to losing a few units each time they transport something. Be it bags of corn or fragile electronics, they have started reporting them under an expense (Normal Loss), thus having a direct impact on gross profit. However, this loss should soon be in the past as technologies advance and new ways of minimizing normal loss are introduced.

Most shippers use wooden pallets for large shipments, whether it is from warehouse to warehouse or to a customer. Although useful in their own sense, with the introduction of plastic pallets, the wooden alternatives aren’t as relevant anymore.

Plastic pallets and crates are great at protecting your products in transit, especially in comparison to wood pallets. Keep reading to learn what makes the plastic option the preferred one.

Durability

Wood is an organic material making it susceptible to rot and pests, unreliable, and problematic to use over long periods. Combined with industrial machinery and heavy loads, even slightly damaged wood can result in compromising the overall integrity of the whole pallet. Repetitive use of wooden pallets can also lead to splinters in the material or nails wriggling out of place, which could end up damaging your product.

Plastic pallets have no such issue as the whole pallet is one sturdy piece, contains no nails, and is not susceptible to pests or rot. Extensive use of plastic pallets poses no hazard to the forklift operator or your products as their expected life is more than 10 years, against wood’s 6 months to 1 year, even with proper maintenance.

Water Resistant

Natural elements, such as water, affect wooden pallets, serving as the prime source of damage. Any contact with water, if not treated, can lead to rot and fungi on wooden pallets. This can not only reduce the strength of your pallet, but the fungi can also find their way into your products!

Water doesn’t get absorbed by plastic pallets due to its polyethylene’s nonpolar properties. This prevents fungi, rot, or other damaging elements from impacting the pallets and in turn, your products.

Lightweight

Plastic pallets are very light compared to wooden pallets because of their chemical structure. Wood is naturally heavy, but plastic maintains almost the same density level, while being a lot lighter due to its foaming process. Normally, a standard (48x 40) plastic pallet weighs up to 3 pounds, while a wood pallet of the same size weighs 30 to 70 pounds. This can save you a lot of money on cargo, especially when shipping over long distances by air.

Wooden pallets often end up absorbing moisture either from the air or due to spillage. If one side of the pallet absorbs more moisture than the other, the weight distribution becomes uneven to a point where column stacking might prove extremely difficult.

No Gaps Between Decks

Plastic pallets usually have little to no gaps between their decks, opposed to wooden pellets’ inch and a half gap. Smaller products can easily slip into these gaps, despite the plastic coating over them, leading to damage. Additionally, these slipped products can make it very difficult for fork lift operators to safely pick the whole batch up.

Although most shippers use slip sheets to prevent this when using wooden pallets, plastic ones eliminate the danger and the need to buy slip sheets altogether!

While wooden pallets are cheaper up front, they end up costing a lot more in the long run due to their extensive and exhaustive maintenance issues, slip sheets, shorter lifespans, and their ability to damage your goods.

In order to save up on costs and increase your profit margins, consider investing in plastic pallets. They offer immense benefits, and of course, you will be protecting the environment with your transportation needs. Plastic pallets are fully recyclable, meaning it’s a win-win for you in all aspects.

If you are looking for a plastic pallet supplier that promises premium quality at affordable prices, PTM Solutions is your number one option.

Contact PTM Solutions now via phone, email, or our online form to get the best quotes on plastic pallets and start reducing product damage and saving money!

A Guide to Pallet Pooling

Palletization is a challenging process, to say the least. It’s a daunting task for companies to align plastic pallets and stack them uniformly, and then look for a cost-effective way to return all pallets to the beginning of the supply chain.

So, how do you counter the growing transportation and management costs? Most companies look to get their answer through pallet pooling. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of this helpful strategy.

How Does Pallet Pooling Work?

Simply put, pallet pooling is renting out or leasing pallets from a shared pool managed by a separate company. The independent pooling company is responsible for managing and ensuring that your pallets remain in good condition and ready for use whenever you require them.

In addition to in-house management, the same company is also responsible for managing the pallets that are taken to other companies or used to take products back to your manufacturing site.

All in all, having a pool service provider saves you the hassle of the logistics of a supply chain, which involves collecting pallets from the sites they’ve been transported to.

The core objective of a pool is to reduce the costs for the company obtaining it. The complexity of pallet procurement, coupled with management, recovery, repair, and waste management can lead to a significant addition in the total costs of a business.

When opting for pallet pooling, businesses look to concentrate on their capital expenditures and routine chain operations that constitute the core of their business – abolishing the costly distraction of owning and also maintaining a sizeable stock of pallets.

Furthermore, businesses that opt for making use of reusable pallets and further managing them in-house are torn between two tasks. To make matters worse, the two additional tasks don’t even constitute the core operations of the business!

Running a parallel pallet supply chain, in addition to staying on top of critical daily tasks, results in the accumulation of significant transportation and labor costs. Not only is it distractive, it is also a prime example of inefficient resource allocation.

One-Way Stringer vs. Reusable Pallets

One approach to dodging transportation and management costs is by using one-way stringer pallets. One-way pallets are most commonly graded by Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) – judged on how many rounds they have experienced throughout the supply chain.

A ‘club-grade’ pallet is one that is yet to be used and therefore, has never been repaired. It is priced at a premium due to its quality, and one that several manufacturers are willing to pay multiple times to ensure retailer acceptance.

Why? Because large retailers have very specific acceptance criteria which need to be met in order for the load to be received – and one of those is the quality of the pallet. These large retailers, in order to protect their quality levels and reputation, only accept high-quality pallets. Low-quality ones can repel potential customers.

Manufacturers that are reliant on one-way stringer pallets buy them just to make sure their loads are accepted. In addition to the premium pricing, these pallets are provided by a complicated and interdependent chain of producers which makes pricing highly unstable and unpredictable.

Why Opt For Pallet Pooling?

When choosing between one-way stringer and reusable pallets, the choice is clear – the sturdiness and durability of reusable pallets give them a better chance of passing through the strict acceptance criteria.

However, in order to make full use of reusable pallets, a business must invest in a complete network that receives, categorizes, makes necessary repairs, and prepares the items to be sent out again.

This is where opting for pallet pooling emerges as the most cost-effective and time-saving alternative. By taking care of maintenance, a pallet pool saves your business from the added expenses of storage and maintenance, as well as the wages of the workforce specifically dedicated to pallet maintenance.

Additionally, pooling reduces the transportation costs of the company, as there are no more empty loads consisting of nothing but pallets.

Why Plastic Pallets Trump Wooden Pallets in Pools

Tightening quality standards as well as rising transportation costs have led to companies abandoning reusable wooden pallets for plastic ones. Here’s why:

  • Wooden Pallets Can Cause Product Damage: Rough edges, splinters, and changing of shape due to wear-and-tear can puncture the packing while a geometrically impaired wooden pallet can cause problems when storing.
  • Wood Leaves Debris: A damaged wooden pallet leads to debris that can include splinters, sawdust, and It can contaminate edible items and litter the warehouse while also risking employees.
  • Plastic Is More Durable: Although both types meet the same GMA specifications, plastic ones are more durable and sturdier.
  • Plastic Is Non-Absorbent: Plastic pallets are a made of a non-absorbable surface which means it is easier to clean and devoid of bacteria or other micro-organism contamination as wood.

If you’re ready to make the switch to plastic pallets, contact PTM Solutions. We specialize in durable pallets that are made up of completely recycle plastic. In fact, we collect more than 14,000 tons of plastic materials each year. Get in touch with us to see which type of pallet is right for you!

8 Tips to Optimize Your Palletized Shipment

Pallets form the foundation for every product shipment that takes place around the globe. Pallets act as robust and hard platforms that allow stacking more cargo in considerably less space, and they also smoothen out the freight process.

Plastic pallets are designed, built, and manufactured to lift heavy loads. Failing to accommodate the required quality may lead to damages such as punctures, abrasions, and compression of the shipped products.

Optimizing your palletized shipment can make it easier to accommodate more products, ensure their safety, and save time. Here are some tips to optimize your palletized shipment:

Select Your Pallets Carefully

Special care should be exercised when choosing pallets, as their design and quality can prove to be the difference. Consider the following for your pallet decision:

  • They should be large enough that the shipment doesn’t overhang from them. They come in all shapes and sizes to ensure every package is well covered.
  • They must be analyzed for their strength and durability to bear the shipment.
  • They should feature closely assembled deck boards.
  • Pallets come with a labeled maximum capacity as guaranteed by the manufacturer – make a note never to exceed that weight limit.
  • Don’t select pallets that have broken boards or consist of bulging nail heads.

Carefully Stack Boxes on A Pallet

Shipments mostly consist of boxes and stackable units. For such shipments:

  • Make sure that pallets are being used for the first time as reused ones may lack the strength to hold the weight of the shipment.
  • Ensure they’re closed properly – either stapled or sealed.
  • Empty spaces within a shipping unit lead to the product moving inside and a possibility of damage. To protect them from vibration, make sure you use ample dunnage.
  • Label your units clearly – with complete address information for both the involved parties: the shipper and the consignee.
  • To ensure maximum stacking firmness, align the boxes in proper columns and align with opposing corners.
  • Interlocking and rotating layer patterns are troublesome – avoid them.
  • Carton boxes should not exceed past the pallet edges.
  • Do not build a pyramid. Top layers can be prone to imbalance, so keep it flat.

Ensure Proper Securing of The Shipment To The Pallet

To secure your shipment to the pallet and ensure maximum strength while doing so:

  • Use strapping or banding devices
  • Use a stretch wrap with at least a 60-gauge and five resolutions.
  • Prevent cartons from getting lost or separated from the load

Label Your Shipment Clearly

Pallet labeling is one of the most important tasks, as it ensures proper communication. Proper labeling includes:

  • Complete telephone numbers – of both the shipper and the consignee
  • Complete address – of both the shipper and the consignee
  • Postal codes – of both the shipper and the consignee
  • Place a label on each side with all of the above mentioned information

Use Slip Sheets

Slip sheets are a form of plastic sheets that are used to protect cargo that is placed on the bottom of the pallet. Slip sheets are widely used when palletizing equipment, as it helps avoid compressive strength deprivation.

Stabilize Pallets Carefully

Stabilizing carton boxes doesn’t require any rocket science – just place the heaviest box at the bottom of the pallet and build from there. The top layer should be in tandem with the bottom, as a heavy box at the top could create a load imbalance.

Why Overhangs Are Dangerous

Overhanging occurs when a pallet is smaller as compared to the size of the shipment products. The result is that cartons are hanging over the edge of the pallet and the edges that are not yet facing an overhang take on all of the load support.

Overhanging is dangerous because it exposes the shipment and all its products to a weakened pallet strength – which can result in freight damages. In addition to the damage, a pallet overhang can result in a reduction of top to bottom compression by 30%.

How to Ensure Proper Stretch Wrapping

Stretch wrapping is one of the most efficient and effective ways to keep all pieces of your shipment together. The wrap should be first applied around the bottom half – starting from the pallet and continuing upwards to secure the top half of the load.

Take the following steps to properly wrap your cargo:

  • Ensure the stretch is tightened to prevent any load shifting
  • It should properly hold the pallet as it ensures the shipment remains unified
  • For additional strength, the stretch wrap can be twisted like a rope

Stretch wrap is used to secure the load properly and stabilize it, so that it remains unified and in place. Generally, stretch wrap is not meant to secure the pallet. To secure the pallet, strapping and banding should be used with stretch wrap to ensure maximum protection.

Are you ready to optimize your palletized shipment? It all starts with reliable pallets. That’s where PTM Solutions comes in. We specialize in plastic products for the automotive, retail, and food and beverage industries. Contact us to learn more about your pallet options.

How Plastic Is Recycled To Make Pallets

Pallets are mostly made out of two materials – either wood or plastic. While wood continues to be used for production, plastic pallets have taken over as the more popular choice.

The main reason plastic pallets are popular is due to the durability and sustainability they provide, which is considerably more than what their wooden counterparts have to offer. Another reason why plastic is preferred is the fact that it can be easily recycled.

Here, we’ll discuss the process of producing plastic pallets, as well as their benefits.

How Are Recycled Plastic Pallets Made?

The overwhelming majority of plastic pallets are made from High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Polypropylene (PP). Recycled pallets, more specifically, are made from hard plastic caps that come off fizzy drink bottles or the materials listed above.

Once these items have been assembled at the recycling site, they are sorted based on the size and composition material. If an item is found to contain other-than-plastic material resin, it is unlikely that it would be used.

After the plastic has been filtered, the items are melted and molded into the desired shapes. Generally, recycled pallets last around a decade before they can be recycled again. Apart from costs, one significant reason that goes into recycled plastic’s favor is the fact that they don’t need repairs very often.

Pallet repairs are usually done by accredited companies that charge expensive fees for the maneuver, and people choose to recycle pallets in bulk rather than repair individually broken pallets.

Recycled Plastic Manufacturing Techniques

Below are some of the most popular recycled plastic manufacturing techniques:

Injection Molding

The highest-quality plastic pallets are generally made using injection molding techniques. While the technique primarily utilizes virgin plastic, high-quality recycled plastic may also be used to make pallets with this manufacturing approach.

Although injection molding is an expensive recycling technique, it makes up for the cost by cutting down on the time required to mold plastic. Once the mold is processed, pallets can be made very quickly using this manufacturing technique.

Injection molding technique is popular because it provides users with quality dimensions that can endure heavy impact resistance from fork tine abuse.

Structural Foam Molding

Structural foam molding is a common approach to reusing recycling plastic. It’s widely used since it is a cheaper alternative to injection molding while still offering benefits to manufacturers.

The manufacturing process for structural foam molding requires lower pressure than injection molding. Additionally, this technique makes use of gas in the manufacturing process, and this renders the interior of the plastic porous, as opposed to its natural solid state.

The newly manufactured porosity allows recycled plastic pallets, molded using the structural foam technique, to be a better fit for more rigid platforms. This is the underlying cause of why pallets made from this technique are preferred when shipping heavyweight.

However, the porosity comes at a cost. Due to the change in interior matter, recycled pallets using this type of molding technique are weaker and more susceptible to damage upon impact.

For instance, if a recycled plastic pallet that is made using the structural foam molding technique is met with forceful impact, it will be reduced to pieces.

Thermoforming

The cheapest recycled plastic molding technique available, thermoforming is a low-quality alternative to both injection molding and structural foam molding.

Thermoforming involves heating a plastic sheet until it melts to a nearly liquid element, and then it is pulled out in a mold where it takes its definitive shape. Unique concepts, such as nestable pallets, are developed with this approach.

Thermoformed plastic is flexible and reacts well to fork tine abuse. Contrastingly, as being the most malleable type of recycled plastic pallet, it performs subpar when exposed to heavyweight shipments.

Why Use Recycled Plastic Pallets?

Apart from being an environment-friendly option, recycled plastic pallets provide a very economically viable option.

Recycled plastic is a tough material, which means it provides a unique blend of durability and longevity. The extended lifespan and the ability to bear a few knocks and falls contribute to the rising popularity of recycled pallets.

In addition to longevity, the tough construction ensures that they are not affected by bad weather – eliminating all possibilities of wood splinters. And not just usage, recycled plastic also proves its efficiency in production.

Producing recycled plastic results in considerably less energy usage, which, in turn drags down CO2 emissions. When taken into perspective, the advantages of recycling are multi-pronged.

Not only does it ensure that your company complies with the need to recycle products and ensure environmental viability by reducing their CO2 emissions, but the reduced costs and energy usage also save you precious money.

At PTM Solutions, we are dedicated to using recycled plastic for our pallets. We collect more than 14,000 tons each year of recyclable plastic to manufacture our plastic products. Contact us today to learn more about which pallet is right for your company.

8 Common Areas for Warehouse Safety Hazards

8 Common Areas for Warehouse Safety HazardsWhether you’re working with plastic pallets or traditional wooden ones, warehouses can certainly be dangerous environments to work in. As a result, it is imperative to identify the most common areas for warehouse safety hazards, taking the proper precautions to prevent accidents going forward. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 16 deaths every year in US warehouses, with 5% of employees reporting injuries or sickness in the sector too.

Although we recommend you to use plastic pallets due to their robustness and safety, there are many other things you need to watch out for too. Here we highlight 8 common areas for warehouse safety hazards.

1. Docks

Loading docks can be potentially deadly, especially if a worker becomes trapped between a forklift truck and the dock. This is not uncommon, especially when a forklift accidentally runs off the dock and into the trajectory of another person. If you’re operating a forklift, be sure to drive carefully on the dock plates, making sure that the dock edges are able to support loads and that they are clear.

2. Forklifts

Although forklifts are essential for the vast majority of warehousing, whether you’re using plastic pallets or wooden ones, they can also be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. According to the OSHA, using forklifts incorrectly is the most common workplace hazard when it comes to warehousing, and for good reason! All forklift drivers should be fully-trained and certified in operating the machinery safely, preferably being provided with regular “refresher” training sessions to jog their memories keep safety procedures top of mind. Daily inspections should also be conducted, looking for signs of forklift damage or wear and tear.

3. Conveyor belts

It’s not hard for workers to become entangled in conveyor equipment if they’re not careful, and they can also be hit by falling objects if the conveyor machinery malfunctions. To help combat these dangers, workers should ensure that their clothing or hair etc. cannot become loose and get entangled in the machine, and employers should make sure that their conveyor equipment is properly maintained.

4. Shelves

If shelves are not stacked correctly, there is a chance that materials may become dislodged and fall to the floor, posing falling dangers and trip hazards to workers. When stacking shelves, always make sure that heavier goods are placed on lower or middle shelves, ensuring that the structure’s center of gravity is kept as low as possible. This makes it much less likely that the shelves will collapse or topple over.

5. Chemicals

If your warehouse deals with dangerous chemicals, be sure to implement a suitable hazard communication program which educates your employees on how to use, store, and dispose of chemicals. You should provide appropriate PPE for your workers when handling chemicals, and ensure that they know what the various safety labels mean.

6. Energized equipment

In your warehouse operations, you must be sure to implement a Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program which ensures that your energized equipment is properly shut down when not in use. Energized equipment, if left running, could pose threats to employees, such as electrocuting themselves or becoming unexpectedly caught in the machinery. LOTO procedures should be taught to all relevant employees, ensuring that they understand how to use and shut down LOTO energized equipment when necessary. Also, energized equipment should be subject to regular safety inspections, ensuring that the electrical equipment is properly wired and not dangerous to use.

7. Handling equipment

Improper manual lifting and handling is one of the leading causes of injuries in the workplace, so you must ensure that your employees and handling goods and boxes according to the guidelines. Not lifting or handling goods correctly can cause musculoskeletal problems down the road, as well as leading to fatigue and back pains. Sometimes lifting can be eradicated by the use of machinery, although this is not always possible. In other cases, it may be best for 2 people to carry a load instead of 1, especially if it is particularly heavy.

8. Pallets

Wooden pallets, which many warehouses still use, present a myriad of hazards for warehouse workers. Not only are they prone to splintering wood which can cause cuts and infections, but they also often have nails sticking out of them which can cause further injury to unsuspecting workers. Replacing them with plastic pallets is the best solution, as plastic cannot hurt your warehouse employees and it is also incredibly convenient to clean and sanitize, making it impervious to mold, bacteria, and dirt, all of which can spread and wreak havoc on your body.

Warehouses deal with a large number of heavy objects, so it makes sense that they’re not the safest places in the world. Nonetheless, with these tips and PTM Solutions’ plastic pallets, you should be able to dramatically reduce the injuries in your warehouse today. Want to know more about plastic pallets? Speak to PTM Solutions today!

5 Tips to Safely Stacking Pallets

5 Tips to Safely Stacking PalletsWhether you’re stacking plastic pallets or pesky old wooden pallets, the rules for stacking them safely are pretty much the same. When you’ve got large loads all stacked on top of one another, it isn’t hard to imagine the accidents which could happen if one of those loads was stacked improperly – the whole warehouse could come crashing down like a line of dominos! As a result, here we offer you some safety tips for stacking your plastic pallets (or wooden ones) as safely as possible!

1. Don’t exceed height limits

Height limits exist for a reason – never stack pallets higher than they are designed to be stacked. If you stack pallets too high, you are putting a lot of pressure on the bottom pallets, and you run the risk of the top pallets toppling over, potentially causing devastating injuries to anyone below. Stacking pallets too high can also cause them to come crashing down off the racks when you try to load and unload them, another phenomenon we assume you would rather avoid.

2. Check for damaged pallets

Although we recommend plastic pallets because of their robustness and reliability, you should always keep an eye out for damaged pallets, no matter what material you’re using. Do not under any circumstances ever reuse a pallet which is damaged, especially if you’re working with wooden pallets which have splinters or nails sticking out which could be dangerous for your workers. Also, when stacking pallets, keep an eye out for any loose parts, as these could become caught in machinery or on the clothing of workers if not noticed. When storing your pallets, be sure to use plastic wrapping on the load, ensuring that the load cannot fall off the pallet unexpectedly due to damage. Wooden pallets can also become damaged due to things such as moisture and wood rot – another reason why we recommend switching to plastic pallets if you haven’t already.

3. Stack pallets which are the same size

When stacking pallets, you want to ensure that the weight is distributed evenly and carefully. As a result, you should only stack pallets which are the same size, as uneven piles of pallets are more prone to wobbling and falling over due to instability. In addition to the obvious safety benefits, stacking evenly-sized pallets also makes the most sense in terms of efficiency, as you’re minimizing empty space on your racks which could’ve otherwise made space for more goods. If you’re forced to use pallets which are in various different sizes, make sure to place the largest pallets at the bottom, while also stacking heavier goods toward the bottom too, keeping the center of gravity nice and low. This can also apply to the goods on the pallets themselves – put the biggest/heaviest goods on first and stack the smaller/lighter goods on top, helping to keep the pallet’s goods nice and stable.

4. Do not overload the stack

When using forklifts or pallet jacks to load and unload heavy pallets, be sure to check the weight limits of the equipment that you’re using, ensuring that you’re not about to overload the equipment and cause it to fall or drop to the ground unexpectedly. A forklift attempting to carry too heavy a pallet, for example, could see the forklift topple over and drop its load, potentially killing anyone on the ground nearby. Furthermore, if stacking various pallets on top of one another, be sure to stack the heaviest ones at the bottom, and this extends to the actual goods on the pallets too. You should also make sure that your pallets are able to be stacked above a certain amount. For example, older and weaker wooden pallets could begin to buckle (particularly those at the bottom of a stack) if the overall height/weight of a stack becomes too much for it to bear.

5. Stack the pallets in a neat and uniform manner

When you’re balancing huge weights on top of one another, you want to make sure that you’re stacking them as carefully as possible! Whether you’re using plastic pallets or wooden pallets, stack them evenly, ensuring that their edges are not poking out the sides of the stack. If your pallet stack is messy and resembles a very heavy game of Jenga, there are severe chances that the stack will come crashing down to the ground due to instability. Furthermore, if you have stray pallets which stick out at the sides, you run the risk of heavy machinery (such as forklifts) accidentally bumping into these stray pallets, causing a chain reaction which could prove to be fatal as the entire stack comes crashing down.

We recommend plastic pallets because they are generally much safer to work with than wooden ones. If you’re a warehousing specialist and you would like to know more about plastic pallets and what they can do for you, get in touch with PTM Solutions today!

 

How to Avoid Contamination Outbreaks With Plastic Pallets

If you run a warehouse, especially one containing food and drink, then you probably want to ensure that you avoid outbreaks of contamination in your facility. Needless to say, contamination could render your efforts useless as bacteria penetrate your goods and make them unsafe to consume, negatively affecting your bottom line and causing hazards.

How to Avoid Contamination OutbreaksAlthough many warehouses are still using old-style wooden pallets for their warehousing, we would highly recommend using plastic pallets instead if you would like to avoid contamination. Why? Because in New Orleans a study found that 43% of wooden pallets tested positive for E. coli, salmonella, and listeria, all of which can wreak havoc on the human body.

Here we offer you some tips for avoiding contamination outbreaks in your warehouse!

1. Consider using plastic pallets

Plastic pallets are much less likely to become contaminated due to their very nature. Wood is a porous natural material which can easily become damp and rotted, posing unique dangers to its stability. Furthermore, the organic properties of wood also mean that it is susceptible to bacteria and infections – acting as a home for numerous harmful bacteria which can then make their way into goods stored on the wooden pallets. Wood also cannot be cleaned very easily, particularly the kind of wood which is used for traditional pallets.

On the other hand, plastic pallets are non-porous and they are not made from organic materials, meaning that bacteria seldom survive on them. Furthermore, even if plastic pallets do become contaminated, they can be easily sanitized and cleaned effectively, thereby killing any contaminants that find their way onto the plastic pallet’s surface. This makes them ideal for storing fresh produce, as they can be easily cleaned between loads, providing a secure and sterile surface to transport high-risk goods on.  This is why plastic pallets are an upgrade to warehouse safety.

2. Safeguard equipment and employees

There are many things you can do in order to keep your equipment clean and secure. For example, you should encourage your employees to wash their hands on a regular basis, especially after going to the toilet. Regular handwashing makes it harder for cross-contamination to occur, reducing contamination risks. However, you should also take it a few steps further if possible, installing epoxy-coated walls and flooring materials which are designed to keep bacteria at bay and improve safety. Also, consider fixing equipment to the floor and replacing any trench drains with can drains or removable box drains which can make clean-up easier and more thorough.

3. Use inside/outside machinery

If your warehouse has both inside and outside areas, consider splitting your equipment such as forklifts and pallet jacks into “inside” equipment and “outside” equipment. Generally speaking, the outside equipment is more likely to become contaminated with bacteria, so separating the two provides you with a sort of barrier which prevents too much contamination.

4. Perform routine tests

You should establish routines for certain tests, making sure that your routinely clean your machinery and test it for contamination. If you’re working with newer equipment which you have less experience with, you should ideally test it for contamination before and after every process it is used for, ensuring that it is not prone to picking up or fostering bacteria. Assuming the equipment passes these tests repeatedly, you should be able to start performing random spot checks instead, periodically checking that the equipment is still germ-free.

5. Sanitize pallets between use

It doesn’t matter if you’re using plastic pallets or wooden ones – you should always sanitize your pallets between uses, especially if they have been carrying high-risk food items. If you don’t clean your pallets between uses, you run the risk of cross-contamination, something which is very common when working with raw meats and other high-risk produce. The National Consumers League recently found that Listeria was present on 3% of warehouse pallets, and even though plastic pallets fared better than their wooden counterparts, they are still not impervious to bacteria, especially if they’re kept outside in vulnerable conditions.

6. Work with reliable partners

If just one party in a supply chain is not following contamination best practices, then they are invalidating all the efforts of the other parties in the supply chain. As a result, it is crucial that you do your homework and work with companies who prioritize food safety, otherwise, you’ll be putting in a lot of effort for no good reason! The FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) is looking to enforce stricter guidelines for transporting food safely, although the act is still young and many stakeholders do not follow good food safety practices.

We hope you enjoyed these tips on reducing contamination in your warehouse, something which can be easily achieved by using plastic pallets. If you’d like to know more about our plastic pallet solutions, get in touch with PTM Solutions today!

A Guide to Cleaning Plastic Pallets

A Guide to Cleaning Plastic PalletsPlastic pallets have a lot of benefits in terms of safety and sustainability, but they’re also incredibly easy to clean! Plastic pallets, unlike wooden ones, do not have a porous surface for bacteria or stray liquids to seep into. This means that you simply need to sanitize their surfaces, and they’re ready to be re-used time and again. Their anti-porous nature makes them ideal for use in the food and beverage industry, for example, where avoiding contamination is of the utmost priority. Keep reading to learn the importance of clean pallets, as well as how easy it is to keep them sanitized.

The Importance of Clean Plastic Pallets

Due to their porous surface, wooden pallets are susceptible to bacteria, mold, and rotting. Wooden pallets owners will quickly learn that the natural absorbent qualities of wood make it the perfect petri dish for harmful contaminants to grow in. This may not be too big of an issue for some industries, but when working with food and produce, the chance of contaminating a shipment skyrockets. When this happens, it could easily lead to disease and cross-contamination in shipments of vulnerable food and produce.

Industry experts recommend the use of plastic pallets because they can be sanitized easily, while wooden ones can never be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to a satisfactory level.  (Making this a warehouse safety concern) The design of plastic pallets also allows them to be cleaned easily, with the water and cleaning solutions easily reaching every nook and cranny of the plastic – something that is simply not achievable with the wood alternative,

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Plastic Pallets

Plastic pallets can be cleaned in a myriad of different manners depending on the scenario and what needs to be cleaned. The standard practice is to simply wash a pallet with water and cleaning chemicals, although it is also possible to steam a plastic pallet in order to kill harmful bacteria, too. Both steaming and washing can effectively remove dust, debris, and simple spills that can happen due to everyday use.

However, if a plastic pallet is particularly filthy and a normal clean just won’t cut it, you may need a high-pressure clean that leaves the surface spotless and completely devoid of any bacteria or harmful substances. These high-pressure cleans are often used for international shipments and quarantine areas, where the rules regarding pallet cleanliness are incredibly strict by nature.

Whatever your application, plastic pallets can be an incredibly hygienic and cost-effective alternative to wooden pallets. If you’re considering making the switch to or purchasing more plastic pallets, contact PTM Solutions today. We strive to optimize the supply chain and protect our customers’ bottom line. Our robust plastic products can be easily washed and sanitized on demand!