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Casebook 2011: Packaging manufacturer trades splinters for stability, switches to plastic pallets

Plastic pallets cut costs, increase reliability for customer.
By Josh Bond, Associate Editor
December 27, 2010

Automation demands consistent materials handling equipment, a characteristic not often associated with wood pallets. By introducing plastic pallets, one packaging company improved productivity, maximized trailer space, and made life easier for customers and employees.

Huhtamaki, one of the world’s leading packaging companies, produces high-quality plastic food packaging in 13 manufacturing plants throughout North and South America. At its New Vienna, Ohio, plant, Huhtamaki used wood pallets to ship cartons of cups and lids from its facility to its customer in standard 53-foot trailers. The company and its customers were experiencing wood pallet breakage that was causing downtime in automated systems.

Huhtamaki decided to seek a shipping solution that was more hygenic, easier for employees to handle, and more cost efficient on a per-trip basis. After partnering with a customer, the company collaborated on a reusable plastic pallet program for shipments (Orbis Corporation, 888-217-0965, http://www.orbiscorporation.com).

A provider worked with Huhtamaki to analyze the product flow and recommended a stackable 44-inch x 51-inch reusable plastic pallet. The footprint optimized unit loads and maximized space in a standard 53-foot trailer, resulting in more efficient shipments. The stackable design offered the durability and stability required for storage and transportation.

Since implementing reusable plastic pallets, Huhtamaki has eliminated recurring costs associated with wood pallets. It has effectively reduced its pallet cost-per-trip by at least 50%–a figure that will only increase over the service life of the pallet. Other results include less automated system downtime, reduced risk of product damage, reduced waste associated with pallet disposal and repair, and improved product flow.

With dimensional consistency, the new plastic pallet offers repeatable performance for Huhtamaki and its customers.

About the Author

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Josh Bond
Associate Editor

Josh Bond is an associate editor to Modern. Josh was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and contributing editor, has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce.


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