17 Mar 2014
Brand image has always been important for manufacturers and retailers. In the past this did not always extend to the most basic transportation and warehousing components such as pallets.
Things are different today. Budget retailers often display goods stacked on an original pallet that has been used to bring stock from a manufacturer or a warehouse. The just-in-time stock management system means that even the most prestigious retailers shift goods on a pallet around their stores throughout the day as they stack and restack shelves. This type of pallet has to be clean, hygienic and, preferably, branded.
All materials can be branded
Branding was once restricted to wooden containers and crates. But today a modern commercial branding tool can mark any material, from rubber to plastic. The branding mark can be used as a company logo and as a method of keeping track of stock in transit as well as its shelf life. As brands make a permanent mark, or at least one that cannot be removed without great difficulty, they are very useful as security and traceability tools.
European and other international regulations are also moving in favour of branding. Heat treated pallets undergo a process to make a wooden pallet resistant to bacteria and other infestation. But the process also relates to official marking. Many goods and their packaging materials must be marked clearly with symbols that show their origin and official registration numbers that can be used for traceability.
Range of appliances
Branders can range from hand-held devices to inline branders with custom-designed CNC branding dies that produce a lasting and legible brand on all types of wood, rubber and plastics. Such branders come with a range of accessories, such as inks, cleaners, pads and various attachments.
Retailers and other companies that may not wish to invest in wholesale branding, or have only low-volume operations, can start on a small scale with a rubber-stamping pallet marking scheme that will display a durable and legible brand name.
Branding also helps companies to control their costs. Huntsman Tioxide, a titanium dioxide producer, wanted to devise a scheme where a pallet or bulk bag could be re-used in any particular host country rather than being returned or disposed of.
The company came up with a pallet design and branding that helped both customers and the sales team to identify specific goods and their packaging and meant that the pallet could be a returnable asset. The recovered pallet, or packaging such as bulk bags, could be returned to one of any number of operational centres in the country concerned. The recovered material was inspected and dry-laundered at the recovery sites.
The result was that within three years Huntsman had established a packaging recovery network across Europe with additional costs savings, both in terms of original material and taxes due on waste disposal volumes.