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PalettenReport Farewell to wooden pallets in long-distance transport: too heavy, too dirty, too easily broken

Farewell to wooden pallets in long-distance transport: too heavy, too dirty, too easily broken

16-09-2019 ,

After two years of testing, trans-o-flex Express has bought 30,000 plastic pallets for around one million euros because they are lighter, stronger and cleaner than traditional Euro pallets. Plastic more sustainable than wood: longer lasting and around 200 kilograms less transport weight per articulated lorry.

After a test period of around two years, the express delivery company trans-o-flex is saying goodbye to wooden pallets in national long-distance transport and is instead using hygienic plastic pallets. The company has purchased around 30,000 of these H1 pallets called carriers for around one million euros. "Because the hygienic pallets last much longer, they are more environmentally friendly than traditional wooden pallets and the investment will reduce our costs in the medium term," says company boss Wolfgang P. Albeck explaining the investment. "The switch also brings additional operational benefits."
The wooden Euro pallets used so far withstood an average of eight cycles at trans-o-flex. They were then so damaged that they had to be replaced. The new H1 pallet, the dimensions of which are identical to those of the Euro pallet made of wood used to date, has been tested by trans-o-flex for around two years in long-distance transport between Hanover and Hamburg. Of the 30 H1 pallets used in daily transport between branches, only two were slightly damaged during the entire test. "The stability and longevity of the load carrier convinced us, but these are by no means all the advantages," says Albeck.
Pharmaceutical customers refuse to accept dark wooden pallets
The plastic pallet also weighs less than the one made of wood, which now weighs 24 kilos, absorbs more and more moisture in the course of its short life and becomes even heavier. The plastic competitor weighs 18 kilos, a quarter less. "This reduces the transport weight of a full articulated lorry by more than 200 kilos on each journey." For the service provider trans-o-flex Express, which specialises in the carriage of high-value and sensitive goods, above all pharmaceuticals, another important aspect comes into play, according to Albeck: "The H1 pallet not only maintains its weight, but also its appearance and cleanliness. "Wooden pallets, on the other hand, become dark and dirty through use." Pharmaceutical customers who hand over new, light-coloured wooden pallets to trans-o-flex would therefore be right to criticise the return of dark pallets. More and more often the acceptance of these pallets would be refused. This is because only light-coloured pallets correspond to quality class A, which is prescribed for the carriage of pharmaceutical goods according to the rules of Good Distribution Practice (GDP). The plastic pallets are GDP-compliant as long as they are ready for use.
New pallets require changed processes and open up new possibilities
With the switch to the new H1 pallets, trans-o-flex has changed and optimised internal processes. Mixed pallets coming from a customer are still packed in the branch as before so that the collis can be transferred from the pallet to the sorter and automatically transported to the correct loading gate. However, the empty wooden pallets are no longer used, but collected and, as a rule, returned to the customer at the next collection. trans-o-flex employees now pack the parcels onto the plastic load carriers for regular shipment to the delivering company. For trans-o-flex Express customers, the H1 pallets further increase transparency in shipment tracking. This is because each H1 pallet is not only marked with the trans-o-flex logo, but also features an individual QR code. This code is scanned, meaning that each pallet is uniquely identifiable. All packages are also assigned to a pallet by scanning and the pallet is assigned to the respective trailer during loading. This makes it clear on which truck a particular parcel is located. trans-o-flex-IT has also adapted and further developed the processes so that the return of pallets from the delivering location to the collecting location can also be optimally controlled.
Clip-on frames to make the new pallets even better by 2020
An expansion of the system is already planned for the coming year. For example, the pallet manufacturer has been commissioned to develop a suitable clip-on frame. A frame that encloses the pallet from three sides is planned. This means that each pallet can be optimally loaded because the surface can be fully utilised without items protruding, which could damage them later during shipping. The frame can be pulled together on the open side with a strap so that the entire structure is stable without the pallets having to be shrink-wrapped. Albeck: "The combination of H1 pallet and clip-on frame promises many more improvements, which we want to test as soon as possible."
Picture: Same size as the conventional Euro pallet, but lighter, stronger and cleaner. The H1 pallet is replacing the traditional wooden pallet as a load carrier in trans-o-flex long-distance transport because it is more sustainable, hygienic and economical. 
About trans-o-flex:
The trans-o-flex Group’s core competence focuses on the provision of logistic solutions for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and consumer electronics industries as well on the transportation of other high-quality, sensitive goods. For the transportation of pharmaceutical products, trans-o-flex has built a nationwide network that includes active temperature control and full documentation. To this end, the company, in its Pharma Logistics business area, has installed transport systems that are suitable for the transportation of pharmaceutical products in the temperature ranges of between 15 and 25 °C and between 2 and 8 °C in compliance with the EU directives for the transportation of pharmaceutical products. In its Technology Logistics business area, trans-o-flex organises transports for customers from other industries, mainly consumer electronics. These customers also benefit from the high standards with respect to safety, hygiene, reliability and transparency which trans-o-flex has established for the pharmaceutical industry. In its Contract Logistics business area, trans-o-flex bundles services from storage and picking & packing up to individual value-added services. At an international level, trans-o-flex focuses on the implementation of logistic concepts via the networks EUROTEMP (temperature-controlled logistics) and EURODIS (in 36 European countries). Both nationally and internationally, trans-o-flex, in contrast to 100-% parcel services or forwarding agencies, delivers both goods in parcels and on pallets and also offers special services, such as the transportation of hazardous goods (without being limited to small quantities), express and time-window deliveries, shipment consolidation as well as direct deliveries. Thus, the company covers the entire logistic chain from procurement and warehousing to distribution and fulfilment. In 2018, annual sales of the trans-o-flex Group, which has a workforce of approximately 2,050 employees, amounted to ca. € 468 million. For more information, go to www.trans-o-flex.com.
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