What are pallets?
Pallets (also know as crates) are used to help transport goods around the country. They do this by providing a solid base on which to place and secure the goods, keeping from the sustaining damage. Also they provide a solid base to both stack and move goods using a forklift truck.
Traditionally pallets have been made of wood, but in recent years with the increase of developments in plastics, they have been made out of this material. But the big question is, which should you choose to use?
Should you use the traditional wood or the new plastic for your pallets and crates?
The advantages of timber pallets
If you choose wood, here’s what advantages it gives you:
Cost: Timber pallets made from common and easily available wood can be very cheaply manufactured, which means that can be cheaper to buy, compared to plastics which require a more sophisticated manufacturing process.
Easier to find: If you want to own the pallets yourself then wooden pallets are very easily sourced from most builders’ merchants or hardware stores. Plastic pallets are much more specialised and not so readily available to buy.
In fact, with timber crates you could even make them yourself.
Easier to fix: Pallets can have quite a hard life, so often get damaged. However, with wooden pallets you can often easily fix them yourself by simply replacing sections of wood or nails.
Strength: Wood can be very good at taking very heavy weights, which might place too much stress on some plastic crates.
Disadvantages of wooden pallets
Lifespan: Even though wood is quite strong, they will become damaged and wear out relatively quickly. Although they are easy to buy and fix, this can become costly if you need a lot of pallets and you use them constantly.
Storage: Wood can be damaged by water, so if you wanted to keep your wooden crates in top condition then you would have to keep them dry, otherwise they will become damaged even quicker.
Environmental issues: Because wood is a natural resource, and wood pallets have a short lifespan, they use a lot more raw material.
As you can see, wood can make a good choice for short term or smaller businesses. They are cheap and easy enough to repair. However, the bigger your business the more problems and higher costs wood will give you due to their short lifespan.
Advantages of plastic pallets
Lifespan: Plastic can provide a much longer lifespan compared to wood, so can be a much better investment in the long term. They don’t require the same amount of repairs or replacement.
Storage: Compared to wood, plastic is much easier to handle and store. Plus it’s not affected by water damage.
Environmental issues: Although plastic compared to wood sounds less environmental, it is when you consider that plastic pallets don’t need to be replaced as often as wooden crates.
Weight: Plastic crates can be significantly lighter than wood and so much easier to handle and work with.
Hygiene: Plastic is much easier to clean to a hygienic level compared to wood. This is especially important if you are transporting goods such as foods.
Disadvantages of plastic pallets
Cost: The initial cost to buy plastic compared to wood is higher. Although, you can use a pallet rental company and so not have to worry about the costs of ownership.
Repairs: Although less likely to get damaged compared to wood, plastic is much harder to repair and in most cases would need to be replaced.
The best type of pallet or crate for you would probably come down to your situation. If you were a small company dealing with limited goods then wooden pallets might prove to be cheaper as you can easily handle the repairs and replacements yourself.
However, for larger companies the longevity and easiness to use of plastic pallets might make better sense when you’re constantly transporting lots of goods. Plus you can find pallet rental (also know as pallet pooling) companies so you don’t actually have to worry about buying and maintaining your own pallet fleet.