Pallets are vital component of any retail, warehouse or shipping operation. Purchasing, maintaining, replacing and disposing of pallets can represent a sizable investment of both time and money. By following the below 8 tips for protecting wooden palllets you can save yourself a significant amount of both time and money.
1. Keep pallets from direct exposure to weather.
Wind, rain, snow and sun can wear away at a pallet in a matter of months. It is important to protect your pallets from mother nature whenever possible. If your pallets are going to be stored outside it is best to keep them covered by a tarp or even an overhead shelter of some sort.
2. Protection from Moisture:
Moisture can have many negative effects on wood. Mold, warping of the wood and decreased structure integrity can all be caused by water and moisture damage. It is best to keep your pallets in a dry indoor environment. For pallets kept outdoors or subject to wet or moist conditions a wood sealant or varnish to applied directly to the pallets can help repel rain water and humidity.
3. Prevent Mold:
Whenever pallets get wet or are subject to high humidity the conditions for mold to form are significantly increased. Mold requires water, oxygen, ideal temperatures and a source of food to grow. Since the pallet is the food source, mold can attack and weaken the structural integrity of the pallet as it spreads. Once a pallet is contaminated with mold, it can be difficult to remove and the structural integrity of the pallet might already be compromised.
For this reason it is best to take preventative action to prevent mold in the first place. Access to oxygen can be difficult to control, but limiting access to water, controlling the temperature and starving the mold spores are the best way to prevent mold. By treating the wood with chemical compounds it can prevent mold from using your pallets as a food source. There are also natural and eco friendly options that will inhibit mold growth. Keep your pallets dry and preferably in a moisture free environment. Heat Treatments can also ensure your pallets don’t retain too much moisture.
4. Heat Treatment:
Heat Treating your pallets can have several benefits. Not only will it keep your pallets dry and help prevent mold, but it will also kill insects or pests that have chosen to make your pallets a home. Sometimes these pests are too small to see by the naked eye and can even borough in to the wood. They can make pallets unfit for the transport of many different goods and can quickly damage the structural integrity of the pallets. International shipments in particular require pallets to meet ISPM-15 standards which requires heat treatment.
5. Invest in quality pallets.
Cheap or improperly made pallets will end up costing you a lot more in the long run since you will need to continually replace them. Pallets should be made with a quality grade of lumber that will easily handle the load you intend to place on them. Your pallet company should be able to tell you the maximum load the pallets can safely handle. Choose a company that has a solid reputation and is experienced in all facets of pallet manufacturing and distribution.
6. Repair or Recycle damaged pallets promptly:
Broken or damaged pallets should be repaired promptly. Any weak or damaged parts of the pallet are likely to increase the chances of further damage to the pallet due to uneven weight distribution of heavy loads and/or will make it harder for lift trucks to handle the pallet without damaging it. Since it is more costly to replace pallets rather than repair them, keeping pallets well maintained will save you money.
7. Don’t overload pallets:
Pallets can hold a lot of weight, but they will still have a maximum load they can support before they are likely to fail. It is important to know the load bearing capacity of your pallets to avoid potential damage to the good they are carrying but also for the safety of anybody working with the pallets.
8. Handle and store pallets with care:
It goes without saying that handling your pallets carefully will extend their life. A rushed or improperly trained forklift driver can damage pallets resulting in pallets that need to be repaired or replaced too soon. Consider giving your forklift drivers a refresher lesson in handling pallets safely and carefully.
9. Use properly sized pallets:
Pallets come in a variety of sizes. Make sure you choose the right size for the products they will hold. Overly large pallets can increase your shipping costs, while pallets that are too small can result in damage to your products.