Polymer Logistics has completed a highly successful trial of its Cleanpal plastic pallet in the challenging fresh produce supply chain. Participating in the project were D.E. Brand, the family-owned Lincolnshire-based supplier of quality Brassica vegetables, as well as leading retailer ASDA. Cleanpal pallets were utilised for field palletisation and shipment to ASDA CDCs (central distribution centres) in Skelmersdale and Lutterworth. Products involved in the operation were broccoli and cabbage, with an average tray weight of 9kg.
As the fresh produce supply chain continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly sensitive to inefficiencies stemming from the use of wood pallets. Negatives such as water absorption, inconsistent weight, frequent damage, splinters and exposed nails underscore some of the nagging ergonomic, hygiene and handling issues associated with their use.
The trial was undertaken to demonstrate the efficacy of Cleanpal for the palletisation and seamless shipment of fresh produce. Several factors were evaluated, including ease of forklift handling during loading and unloading, load stability in conjunction with plastic crates, as well as suitability for manual handling. The project allowed material handlers to experience how the plastic pallets, weighing just 15kg each, can be easily lifted and stacked manually as well as nested when empty to optimise space utilisation.
The Cleanpal trial proved to be a success in all regards. Harvest workers enjoyed the ease of pallet handling in the field, with no change required for pallet strapping requirements. There was absolutely no shifting or loss of palletised product in transit as load stability was enhanced by the use of interlocking trays. Forklift handling and pump truck manoeuvring was easily accomplished. Operators appreciated the easy fork entry, with the free underdeck providing a larger opening than found in wood pallets. From a health and safety perspective, ASDA remarked positively that trays of product could be easily slid from the pallet as per established best practice. This recommended approach is often not feasible with wood pallets, given their inconsistent surfaces and likelihood of exposed nail heads.
Adrian Dale, Managing Director at Polymer Logistics, said: “In today’s supply chain, speed, safety and reliable quality have become essential. Problems related to the use of wood pallets are increasingly coming under the microscope as retailers look to take their operations to the next level. This trial demonstrates how Cleanpal delivers in every category to improve the fresh produce experience.”