Plastic pallets: The market continues to grow, especially in food, beverage and pharmaceuticals

Sure, conveyors, AGVs and AS/RS systems are the stars of ProMat. But wooden and plastic pallet companies were also exhibiting the latest innovations in unit load handling with pallets. Here’s a look at some of what was on display at the show. For plastic pallet manufacturers, regulatory compliance is among the drivers.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
February 06, 2013 - MMH Editorial

Plastic pallet manufacturers were out in force at ProMat 2013, displaying a variety of new products. While replacing existing pallets to keep up with damage or growth has long been a market driver for the industry, the plastic market is back in growth mode with new designs to meet regulatory compliance in the food, beverage and pharmaceuticals industries along with new designs to work with automation and the supply chain. “We’re seeing real growth in the market,” said Samantha Goetz, Orbis ( Here are some of the products we had a chance to view.

Orbis: Orbis was displaying its new RackoCell, a molded one-piece pallet manufactured from a polypropylene copolymer to offer enhanced stiffness and edge-racking performance up to 2,200 pounds. The pallet features a flow-through design that washes and drains quickly for high sanitation. And smooth, all-plastic construction protects the product without nails, splinters or rust. The pallet is 100% recyclable and environmentally friendly.

The RackoCell pallet also features an option available specifically for food plants that use X-ray detection to inspect loads prior to shipping. This allows plants to use fully hygienic pallets throughout their internal processing facility and when loads are off-loaded to outbound shipping pallets, they can then be sent through X-ray machines for inspection.

Buckhorn: Buckhorn ( introduced a new collapsible 60-gallon plastic drum designed for the food powder and liquid handling markets. While most drums are round, this drum has a 24 x 20 X 40-inch rectangular footprint. The unique design allows four assembled drums to interlock and cube a 48 x 40-inch pallet, stacking five pallet loads high in storage. Buckhorn says the drum offers 25% better cube utilization than a standard 55-gallon alternative.

Cabka: While plastic pallets offer a number of advantages over wood pallets, the higher cost of plastic has inhibited the use of plastic pallets as an alternative for every day shipping. Cabka North America’s ( new CPP 100 is a lightweight 48 x 40-inch pallet that weighs just 11 pounds and is priced to compete with one-way wooden pallets, especially in applications such as air cargo. The pallet is nestable, but bottom snap on runners can be added for better stackability.

Polymer Solutions International: The Radiopaque ProStack pallet from Polymer Solutions ( is manufactured with a special compound that is opaque to X-ray and fluoroscopic imaging, making it easier to detect product contaminates. The pallet is designed for food, beverage and pharmaceutical processes that are implementing X-ray and fluoroscopy imaging as part of their inspection and quality control processes. The pallets are rated for a 30,000-pound static load, a 5,000-pound dynamic load and are edge-rackable to 2,200 pounds.

George Utz: One of the advantages of plastic pallets is uniformity, which makes them ideal for automated processes. Utz ( highlighted its new UPAL-A Pallet, a 48 x 40-inch plastic pallet designed for automated systems. The pallet is 100% recyclable and features a special under surface that rolls easily on belt conveyors, rollers and wheel conveyance as well as built-in slots for steel or plastic banding.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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