A Case Study On Replacing Wooden Pallets With Plastic Pallets Within a Closed Supply Chain

In 2015 one of AIC’s main manufacturer’s Craemer Plastic Pallets supplied Intermarché in France their standard plastic returnable pallet, the D1 ECO. Intermarché is a large supermarket chain with over 1800 outlets in France.

 

Plastic Pallet performance

Intermarché chose the Craemer pallet as it was the most successful during testing. The Intermarché logistics team carried out tests with pallets from six different manufacturers on four of their platforms over almost two years. The loss rate, the return rate and the damage rate were measured with the latter being the most important. The D1 pallet was solid in tests with a damage rate of only 1 per 1000, often caused by handling errors. Due to the one-piece injection moulding manufacturing processthe pallets are stronger than assembled pallets. Intermarchéacquired 60,000 plastic half pallets and 200,000 plastic euro pallets, the pallets are lightweight but robust and can withstand significant temperature variations. The D1 ECO were reinforced with three steel bars allowing them to bear to 5000kg of static load, 1250kg of dynamic load and 1000kg on racks, 14 non-slip plugs were also added to increase load safety.

These pallets are reserved for downstream logistics and move within a closed circuit between distribution platforms and the company’s retail outlets in a system where follow-up and traceability are guaranteed. Every pallet has two bar codes as pallet flow must be managed to ensure that they return to the base. The pallets are registered in stores and return to the circuit, carrying out approximately one rotation a week and fifty rotations a year which is in accordance with Intermarché’s objective of return on investment in 2.5years. “The unit cost of the plastic pallet is certainly higher than that of a wooden pallet, but it demonstrates its profitability through its lifecycle.”

Reduction of Repetitive Stress Injury and occupational accidents

Intermarchéchose to replace wood with plastic in order to have a safer, lighter and more practical medium for staff who handle pallets. Wooden pallets weigh 22kg or 23kg which is significantly heavier than a plastic pallet which weighs only 14kg. Their smooth surface allows for employees to handle with bare hands and reduces risk of splinters or injuries to the eyes.

The success of this change is also due to the employees also being convinced of the benefits of this change. There are multiple advantages to plastic pallets: the plastic pallet is resistant to humidity, it has better resistance to falls and forklift impacts than wood. Its tare weight and dimensional stability make it an ideal load support medium for use with handling equipment.

Plastic pallets have a long life cycle and are more durable than wooden or cardboard packaging, at the end of the life cycle the pallet is 100% recyclable. The implementation of the pallet pool also allows the whole supply chain to be more ecological.This solution was implemented in 2015. With 50 rotations a year and a damage rate of 1 per 1000, Intermarché objectives weremet. The plasticpallet has proven to be more economic, safer and practical but also more ecological than the wooden pallet.