Why is plastic becoming more palatable?
The pallet market is predicted to be worth $51.6 billion dollars by 2017 with 5.1 billion produced, a 5 per cent increase on 2014 figures. By 2017, it is estimated one in ten pallets sold will be made from plastic, making this the biggest growth sector.*
Dale Paterson, Group Managing Director of plastic pallet specialist Exporta Global, believes this is a trend that is set to continue as myths that surround plastic pallets are gradually debunked.
Pallets are not one of the most glamorous items for most companies and some may treat them as an afterthought, automatically specifying what they have always specified – usually wood – without realising there might be a more cost effective option.
Plastic pallets won’t be the right choice in every circumstance, but many companies are now recognising their benefits.
A major reason for this is a realisation that, although the initial unit costs might be higher, there can be overall cost savings.
On a simple measure of durability, plastic pallets can last up to ten years, ten times longer than wooden pallets. This can have significant lifetime savings in closed systems where pallets are returned.
Recognising there is an issue in systems where pallets are not returned, most pallet suppliers’ offer reduced cost plastic pallets for one-way trips.
Exporters in particular can benefit from reduced freight costs, as plastics are much lighter than wood, particularly important given air freight transport costs are based on weight. This can save as much as £40 per equivalent load bearing pallet.
Lighter means easier to handle, but this does not impact on the ability to carry heavy loads. Indeed, the mould-based production process ensures consistent strength and capacity.
With over 70 varieties of plastic pallets to choose from it is crucial that you purchase the right pallet for an application to maximise the cost benefits. Getting the right advice can be key when faced with a choice of rackable, nestable, semi-nesting, anti-slip, smooth deck, smooth deck hygiene, closed deck, heavy duty, lightweight, boxed container, Euro, 3 runner, 5 runner and/or display.
Another major advantage for exporters is that plastic pallets are exempt from International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures 15 (ISPM15) which require wooden pallets or any wood packaging greater than 6mm to be heat treated or fumigated to avoid bug infestation. Checks to ensure wooden pallets meet the measures can add time and cost during customs processes when exporting to countries such as Australia.
In addition to exporters, there are a number of industry sectors driving the use of plastic pallets. These include the pharmaceutical, food, beverage, automotive and electronics sectors which want benefits in improved hygiene, avoidance of contamination and chemical/moisture resistance when compared with wood.
Companies transporting fragile materials can benefit from the greater protection offered by using plastic pallets in combination with plastic collars, avoiding the fasteners used on wooden pallets which can damage products.
As a result, some insurance companies offer discounts when using plastic.
A specific myth about plastic pallets is that they are less environmentally friendly than wood, but today not only are most plastic pallets made from recycled materials, but 100 per cent are recoverable.
As such plastic can benefit companies seeking to reinforce their environmental credentials.
The ability to repel water means they can be the best option when pallets are exposed to outdoor conditions for prolonged periods – particularly when compared to wood that can shrink or warp. In addition, they can be more easily cleaned, useful when pallets are used to display products.
For many other companies it is simply a staff safety issue as introducing plastic removes the dangers associated with sharp edges, splinters and exposed nails.
Although wood will continue to dominate the industry, plastic pallets will grow in popularity as their advantages become more widely recognised.
Exporta Global offers a free pallet analysis to review cost benefits – visit www.exportaglobal.co.uk
*Source: the Freedonia Group 2014
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”