Industry Professionals said This:Posted: March 2, 2017
Courtesy of Packaging Revolution 18th January 2017
Industry observations, analysis and comments.
J.R. Simplot, one of the world’s largest private food and agribusiness companies, recently made a change in the pallets it uses inside its 380,000-square-foot processing facility in Caldwell, Idaho. At any given time, more than 24,000 pallets are in circulation for transporting finished products – from frozen French fries and veggies to packages to be used in prepared meals – between finished product packaging, frozen storage, and shipping docks. For outbound rail shipments, products are removed from their pallets via slip-sheets into railcars using a push/pull system. For truck-loading, unit loads are similarly removed from in-house pallets and transferred to inexpensive shipping pallets.
“Wooden pallets can be challenging because as they age they leave wooden pieces everywhere, and you’ve got to repair and/or replace them frequently,” said Gary Bleazard, project engineer, providing background on why the change was made. “Even with very careful handling, wood can splinter and penetrate cases and packages, creating the potential for foreign material to enter the product.”
Preventing these risks required constant vigilance, and resulted in the plant deploying one person working 24 hours a day “whose job it was to do nothing but inspect and sort pallets,” Bleazard says. Pallets that couldn’t be rotated from the dock back to the plant were sent to an outside service provider for repairs, and pallets would be repaired many times – some more than 10 – until further repairs were no longer viable. Additional labor was also required to keep the facility clean and clear of wood debris, again, to ensure food safety compliance and maximum productivity. “We have wooden pallets that have been in operation for 3+ years as they are stamped. They may have been repaired 10+ times,” says Bleazard.