The Life Cycle of an Average Wooden Pallet
15 May 2017
There are a number of factors that impact on the durability of wooden pallets, so the life of a standard wooden pallet can vary quite significantly. Warehouse owners will already be aware that they have the option to buy new or used wooden pallets, but do they really know all that they need to about the used wood pallet lifecycle? The lure of used pallets can be very tempting due to their cost-efficiency, but is it really worth going for second-hand products in the long run? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer, as all of the following questions need to be taken into consideration.
Using the Pallet
The way in which it is used will impact greatly on wooden pallet longevity. For instance, what type of products will it be carrying? If the structure is intended for storing perishable goods, then there is every chance that the wood can deteriorate as a result. How heavy will the products be? The weight of its load will certainly affect the pallet’s durability. Finally, how far will the pallet be travelling? If your pallet is to travel short distances, then it is less likely to be affected by wear and tear whilst being moved from A to B, whereas longer distances and increased travel times can result in the wood becoming damaged during transportation or by weather.
Caring for the Pallet
The wood pallet lifecycle will also be determined by the care and attention it receives. For instance, how often has the item been repaired? The problem with recycling wood pallets is that they may not offer the same strength and durability as brand new ones. This will all depend on if, how well and how often a pallet has been repaired (if buying second-hand, you may not know the answers to these questions). Another factor to consider when thinking about wood pallet longevity is whether or not the structure has been heat-treated, which helps to protect the wood from decay. If untreated, timber can be affected by larvae inside the wood or can be weakened by weather and/or perishable goods.
It is thought that the average lifecycle of a new wooden pallet is around three years, but this accounts for a number of repairs being needed along the way. With this in mind, how can we accurately predict the life span of a pallet? Surely damage will cause different breakages and weaknesses to each pallet, and no two pallets will go through the same in terms of transport and exposure to the elements? As such, the only advice that can be given to warehouse owners is to look after the wooden pallets in their possession: treat them as they would vital machinery, fix them at the first sign of damage, and recycle them if they are no longer up to the job. All else is out of their control, but they should, in general, be able to rely on the effort that they put into caring for the pallets being matched in their efficiency and durability.