Lean and green pallets

With a presswood pallet, Lincoln Electric is not only meeting European export requirements and streamlining its pallet inventory, it’s reaping sustainability benefits.

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Lincoln Electric, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of arc welding machines and consumables, was looking to better meet export shipping requirements for its pallets, which were sometimes held up for inspection in Europe.

Lincoln was purchasing construction-grade pine and making export pallets in-house.  “We were shipping nine different products and each had its own unique pallet design,” says Tom Soster, manufacturing engineering manager for Lincoln Electric. In addition to maintaining an inventory of nine different sizes that took up valuable space on an apron in the dock area, the pallets had to be bark free and made from heat-treated lumber to meet European regulations for pallets.

A presswood pallet (Litco International) offered a number of benefits to Lincoln. The pallets are manufactured using an environmentally responsible process that molds wood waste and wood byproducts under high heat and pressure, the pallets are ISPM 15 approved wood packaging and are guaranteed to be free of bugs, bark and mold. The pallets are also available in a half pallet size, measuring 24 inches x 40 inches—an ideal size for Lincoln’s welding machines.

“We received some samples of the pallet and by February 2009, we had changed over our first product,” says Soster. “On our first shipment, we learned that presswood pallets are common and welcomed in Europe. It was a very easy transition.”

The pallets also complement Lincoln Electric’s initiatives to stay lean and green: Since they are nestable and cradle-to-cradle certified, they free up valuable dock space previously dedicated to pallet storage and can be recycled at the end of their life.

Since then, Lincoln has changed eight additional pallets over to presswood pallets, delivering an estimated 5% savings on the cost of the pallets. And, Lincoln can order the pallets on an as-needed, just-in-time basis from a local distributor.

“The ability to order based on what we need means we can run a leaner operation,” says Soster. “And, since they nest, we can bring 50 pallets at a time into the product area instead of 25. That means fewer trips to move pallets.”

As an additional benefit, the presswood pallets are recyclable and earned a silver cradle-to-cradle certification from MBDC, an organization that assesses the sustainability of a product and the practices employed in making it.

“Like most responsible organizations, Lincoln Electric is concerned about sustainability,” says Soster. “Using a presswood pallet is not only meeting our shipping requirements, it’s making us a little more green.”

About the Author

Noel P. Bodenburg
Noël P. Bodenburg, executive managing editor, has been with Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News since 2006. She is a graduate of Boston University. Prior to joining the Supply Chain Group magazines, Noël worked as a production and managing editor at other industry business-to-business publications.

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