Original Press Release
LOMOLD(TM) Group Launches Game-Changing Multi-Piece Reusable Composite Pallet System
Press release date: October 27, 2010
Patented Design & High-Performance Composites Key to Greater Functionality, Performance, Value, & Sustainability
DSSELDORF, GERMANY & CHICAGO - Just six months after winning a JEC (Paris) Composites Innovation Award in the Transportation category for a one-piece / singleshot, high-performance composite pallet, LOMOLD(TM) Group (Cape Town, South Africa) is launching a second, multi-piece reusable composite pallet system with even higher performance and far greater functionality and profit potential for owners of open and closed pallet pools. Unique to the LOMOLD pallet system is the interaction between top and bottom decks and various optional clip-on components, which offer unprecedented flexibility and performance in reusable pallets, yet provide a systems' cost close to wood. The company is jointly introducing the new pallet system at the K 2010 Fair, October 27- November 3 in Hall 12, Booth A51-51 (co-located with machine builder, Chuan Li Fa Machinery Works Co., Ltd.) at the Messe Dsseldorf (Dsseldorf, Germany), and at PackEXPO, October 31-November 3 in Booth E-8509, "Brand Zone" Pavilion at McCormack Place (Chicago).
The ability to separate and rejoin bottom and top decks in the LOMOLD pallet system provides significant logistical benefits, allowing the "slaved" base to stay behind at a manufacturer's production plant or distribution center and product to move solely on the top deck to a customer's facility, where it would then be placed on another slave base racked in that facility. When not in use, both top and bottom decks are nestable (after unloading and / or detaching one from the other), greatly reducing the footprint needed to store or ship empty pallets. This flexibility enables users at manufacturing facilities, warehouses, distribution centers, and even retail stores to purchase just the components they need based on how they prefer to receive and dispatch goods within their internal logistics systems and existing infrastructure.
At less than 14 kilograms / 30 pounds (depending on configuration), LOMOLD's rentalpool pallets are much lighter1 than typical wood pallets (40 kilogram / 88 pounds) of the same size / load rating, and vs. competitive wood alternatives like plastic or composite, LOMOLD pallets are typically lighter but offer comparable or greater stiffness and strength. The top deck is so strong that it can be used as a standalone pallet for oneway trips, yet it supports a dynamic load of up to 2 metric tons / 4,400 pounds. Since the new pallets are typically 65 percent lighter than comparable wood pallets, their use significantly reduces the total weight (pallet plus stacked goods) of a given outbound shipment - eliminating up to 750 kilograms / 1,650 pounds from each truck. This means that more product can be loaded before the trailer box "weighs out" (exceeds legal loading restrictions). For inbound trips with empty pallets, the nestability of top decks means one return truck or container can carry what previously required four, reducing shipping costs, and carbon emissions by up to 75 percent.
The pallets are also rackable along either their long or short sides. Racking is the most important performance requirement for pallets, since racking strength indicates how much weight a pallet can carry over time while it is supported only on its edges in a rack. Many pallets customers use racking systems in their warehouses to maximize available floor space. Pallets with goods on them are racked up to five units high, with each pallet supported only on its edges. Should a racked pallet fail, the results could be catastrophic. The industry's standard specification calls for pallets to be edge racked with a load of 1,250 kilograms / 2,800 pounds for 30 days and to sustain less than 22 millimeters / 0.8 inches of deflection under these conditions. During pre-qualification testing, LOMOLD's pallet easily met and exceeded these grueling conditions, and official certification testing is currently underway.
Thanks to a removable "picture frame" bottom deck that provides more than 65% bottom-deck coverage, the pallets are also stackable - up to four pallets high and holding up to 10 metric tons /10 tons combined static load with no deflection, a figure that is two-and-a-half-times higher than the industry requirement of 4 metric tons / 4 tons.
In addition, the pallets can easily integrate up to twelve radio-frequency-identification (RFID) chips in specifically designed slots for unique electronic product codes (EPCs), as well as barcodes, branding, and other human-readable interfaces to help track shipments and pallets and increase pallet accountability.
Still another useful aspect of the LOMOLD pallet design is that the deck is extendable, able to increase up to 30 percent in size - from 1.2 x 1.0 meters to 1.3 x 1.1 meters / 48 x 40 inches to 52 x 48 inches, thanks to a removable jacket extension that snapfits onto the deck. A detachable lip extension can also be fitted to the deck for loads that require the additional stability of a short sidewall. These two features make it easy to optimize loads and use the same base pallet for multiple applications, then remove the tough add-on components when not needed. In the case of pool pallets, elastomeric corner bumpers are available for added protection against bumps and forklift damage, extending pallet longevity. Anti-slip grommets also can be inserted in numerous configurations on the top deck surface to help stabilize the load, in the bottom deck to ensure pallets themselves do not slide during transport, and underneath the top deck to avoid pallets sliding off forklift blades.
Thanks to their smooth, glossy surface - which will not damage product as wood can - and the composite's hydrolytic stability, the new pallets can easily be washed for increased hygiene. Owing to their open design, liquids drain away rather than pooling or being absorbed, taking along dirt and contaminants. Furthermore, the inert glass / polypropylene composite is unaffected by bacteria, mildew, or insects, and hence requires no heat treatment or fumigation prior to cross-border trips as is required of wood. The same open design also permits improved airflow during cold storage (reducing cooling-energy requirements) and durable, automotive-grade composite provides excellent toughness and mechanical performance from -30 degrees Celsius to 45 degrees Celsius / -22 degrees Fahrenheit to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. In markets like the U.S. that require flame retardancy in plastic pallets, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2335 and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) FM 4996 listings can be attained without significant loss of mechanical properties - a real benefit for pallets, since most flame-retardant additives lower impact strength (and vice versa).
Furthermore, the patented pallets, which were designed in-house by LOMOLD Group based on customer input - also provide significant "green" (ecological) benefits. Not only do they offer logistical savings for outbound transport (carrying more product in fewer loads) and return trips (since their nestability saves up to 75 percent inbound floor space), but they also reduce shipping and energy costs, lowering the carbon footprint to move product. Furthermore, they are very durable, with a 10+-year projected lifecycle - far exceeding the usefulness of wood pallets and lower performing wood alternatives. They also reduce deforestation, as typically an entire tree is used to produce just seven wood pallets. And because they are immune to pests, the monetary and energy cost of pest mitigation (fumigation and / or heat treatment) can be avoided while eliminating a vector for infestation or contamination that wood can represent. The long-lived pallets are 100-percent recyclable at end of life.
Pallets are injection molded via the LOMOLDING(TM) patented long-fiber-thermoplastic (LFT) process developed by LOMOLD Group using high-performance, automotive-grade 36-percent (by weight) fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene (PP). The new pallets design is similar to that of LOMOLD's one-piece pallet that won the JEC award earlier this year. Notably, the multi-piece second-generation pallets (with higher glass loading) feature separate base and top decks - components that were fused in the first-generation design but that can be quickly and repeatedly joined or uncoupled in the new pallets via molded-in snapfits. The material's toughness and durability makes this connection feature viable throughout the pallets' 10-year projected use-life.
The advantages of plastic or composite pallets over wood - increased utilization, lower maintenance, better hygiene, less product damage, longer service life, more environmentally sustainable, and more amenable to automated warehousing systems - are well known and accepted in the materials-handling and logistics industries. However, the limiting factors preventing high penetration have traditionally been the far higher cost of plastic / composite pallets vs. wood and, in some cases, the lower mechanical performance of polymeric pallets. LOMOLD believes it has solved both problems through its unique design and materials / process technologies, which enable performance and durability to be increased and cost to be reduced, permitting the company's pallets to be sold at a price-point that is competitive with wood.