You're probably wondering if this is a trick question. If we're talking "total cost" per unit load, the correct answer just may be the $12 pallet. Allow us to explain:
Theoretical Unit Load A (Value Pallet)
A common unit load of corrugated boxes stretch wrapped to an inexpensive pallet:
- 9 boxes per layer
- 3 layers per pallet
Total Unit Load Cost
$67.50 (Double Wall-B/C Flute @ $2.50 ea)
Now we'll design the same basic unit load but improve the pallet (base) strength by:
- Adding a top deck board
- Adding a bottom deck board
- Increasing deck board thickness to reduce pallet deflection
Total Unit Load Cost
$54.00 (Single Wall-C Flute @ $2.00 ea)
Surprise... the $12 pallet is cheaper. Adding $4 to the pallet cost saves $13.50 in corrugated and $1.00 in slip sheet. Total cost savings = $10.50 per unit load. The result is a greater than 13% savings - now that's a treat!
Let's take a closer look.
Unit Load A - Considerations
Is it possible the double-wall corrugated is over-designed to compensate for the strength of the pallet?
- Box corners are not on deck boards (either top deck or bottom deck while double stacking)
- Pallet deflection is evident; placing additional stress on the corrugated
- To stack product higher, the strength of the corrugated had to be increased
The stronger, stiffer pallet (base) with additional surface area reduces the amount of stress on the corrugated. This saves costs by:
- Reducing the corrugated material from DW-B/C to Single wall C-flute (about $0.50 per box)
- Removing the need for a slip sheet
The Real Cost of Cheap Pallets
We have shown you in simple dollar and cents how investing in a better pallet can actually save you money on your unit load. The loss cuts even deeper when you consider this:
Unit Load Damage = Product Damage = $ Lost
Now you're faced with even bigger problems that may include:
- Product replacement costs
- Additional shipping costs
- Brand perception
- Customer disapproval
- Loss of business
Call them what you will: cheap pallets, inexpensive pallets, value pallets, low priced pallets, bargain pallets. Cheap pallets are not inexpensive. In the long run, you will likely spend more money on other materials to compensate for that cheap pallet.
Have you ever considered how much money you are spending on extra materials or product damage? Asking an expert to check out your unit load may help to improve your bottom line. A unit load expert can suggest some REAL cost saving solutions to your cheap pallet problem.
Has a cheap pallet ever cost you more than you bargained for? Let us know by commenting below.