Guest Post: Eliminate Waste by Improving Pallet Packing
Today’s guest post comes from Danielle M. She has been a dedicated student of Lean Manufacturing methodologies since 2006. It was love at first sight when she read the motto, “Everything has a place; everything in its place” in her first copy of The Toyota Way.
Lean manufacturing seeks out and eliminates waste wherever it can be found. One process that can be overlooked in a manufacturing business is the very end, where products are stacked on pallets, wrapped and shipped out. What follows are a number of ways you can reduce wasted time, effort and money by finding efficiencies in your pallet packing processes.
Choosing the right pallet
The first step toward more efficient palletizing is choosing the right pallet. According to a study by the Fibre Box association, a pallet can lose 20 to 40 percent of its strength if only half an inch of product is hanging over the edge of the pallet. You should be able to load your product onto a pallet without anything hanging over. Put another way, for any given package, the pallet should be equal to or larger than the products you’re putting on it.
If you’re using wooden pallets, look into the possibility of switching to plastic ones. They are generally safer and last longer, but they do have a few drawbacks. Only you know whether plastic or wooden pallets are best for your business.
Pallets and weight
Pallets are designed to hold only a certain amount of weight. Put too much weight on a pallet and you risk damaging it and the products it carries and injuring anyone who might be in the area. An overloaded pallet can lead to higher shipping costs as well.
An easy way to keep weight under control is to load the pallet while it sits on your industrial scales. This simple process can eliminate a lot of waste:
- It keeps your pallets in good working order.
- It ensures you keep it within any weight restrictions.
- It eliminates the time wasted packing a pallet and then weighing it, only to find that it’s too heavy and must be redone.
Packing a pallet safely means considering the safety of all people who use the pallet and the overall security of the products the pallet holds. Keep safety guidelines in mind and remember these pallet-packing tips:
- Don’t stack pallets too high. Doing so raises the load’s center of gravity, which could lead to a pallet falling over, damaging the product and potentially injuring someone.
- Don’t risk it. If a pallet looks damaged, it probably is — have it examined more closely and either repaired or discarded.
When it comes to wrapping products on a pallet, make sure you understand the difference between shrink wrap and stretch wrap, and that you keep the correct one in stock:
- Stretch wrap is a lot like the cellophane wrap you use in the kitchen. It stretches a little and sticks to itself and does a great job of getting in its own way.
- Shrink wrap isn’t so stretchy, but it shrinks when you apply heat to it, creating a snugger hold on the products on your pallet.
The key to efficient, safe pallet packing, though, is making sure that everyone who deals with pallets understands the processes you have in place and follows all rules. The greatest step toward cutting waste is educating your employees.