Material Efficiency in Pallet Design

Billions of new wood pallets are built every year to transport all the goods and services the world manufactures and consumes. That means that even small changes in how these wood pallets are constructed can further the environmental benefits that wood already provides. While wood pallets come from a biodegradable, renewable, recyclable source, choosing the sustainable way is more than just the material you select… it’s about how you use it.

Material efficiency is a relatively new term that focuses on the reduction of material usage and processing to effectively operate the global economy in a sustainable manner. Several strategies have been proposed to achieve material efficiency, including further extending a products lifetime, increasing re-usage of materials, and designing products with less material.1

The existing economic and operational barriers sometimes make it difficult to effectively implement these strategies but there is a solution.

The intrinsic properties of wood, paired with engineering design software the Pallet Design System™ (PDS), provide an excellent opportunity to overcome these challenges.

With PDS, material efficiency can be achieved by:

  • Extending product lifetime – PDS contains a durability analysis to analyze how long a pallet will last. One can change the design specifically to increase longevity.
  • Increase re-usage of materials – PDS enables the pallet designer to analyze the performance of a pallet with recycled components. Before PDS, there was no assurance as to how a recycled pallet would perform.
  • Reduce material usage – with PDS, a pallet can be designed to maximum material efficiency while meeting all performance requirements. This means that not an inch of material is wasted in designing a pallet that performs safely and precisely the way you need.

NWPCA’s Pallet Design System™ (PDS), was originally developed with research by conducted by APA – The Engineered Wood Association and Oregon State University, NWPCA, Virginia Tech, and the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory. NWPCA’s ongoing research seeks to further increase the understanding of the relationships between the design and performance of wood pallets and the entire unit load, to obtain even greater resource efficiencies in the future.

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