New PU pallets score points

Covestro supplies resin for the pallets and the end result is a product that improves supply chain quality

December 2015

A new approach to pallet design, fabrication and management is transforming how companies move their products around the world.
The approach begins with polyurethane resin that is pultruded to form lightweight composite pallets that resolve many of the issues the material handling industry faces related to traditional wood or polymer block pallets. The polyurethane resin is supplied by Covestro LLC, formerly Bayer MaterialScience LLC.

RM2, a supply chain solutions provider pultrudes Covestro’s Baydur PUL 2500 polyurethane system to form its BLOCKPal composite pallet. Specially designed for use in pultrusion, this Baydur formulation’s properties – including strength, toughness and impact resistance – offer improvements over what can be achieved with traditional pallet materials.

Chris Gibbs, head of information management, RM2, says: “Use of Covestro’s polyurethane composite results in pallets that can be used over and over again in automated, closed-loop, multi-trip supply chains with high numbers of movements.”

Gibbs explains that this enables RM2 to lease the pallets through long-term contracts with customers – a unique approach to material handling. RM2’s ability to identify pallet locations through the Erica tracking system helps minimise pallet loss.

For supply chains that reuse or could reuse pallets, the BLOCKPal pallets can translate into significant operational efficiencies, including less product damage, downtime and repairs; more pallets per truck for returns; and more trips per pallet. In fact, a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) commissioned by RM2 indicates only 899 BLOCKPal pallets are required for 100,000 one-way trips. By comparison, five times as many wooden pallets – 4,400 – would be required to make the same number of one-way trips.

The LCA also indicates that due to its lighter weight, lower loss rate enabled by Erica and longer life, the BLOCKPal pallet has a 21 per cent lower global warming potential (GWP) impact and 50 per cent lower total Primary Energy Demand than a typical wood block pallet.

Tests by Virginia Tech Center show BLOCKPal pallets regularly exceed industry standards and have a significantly increased pallet lifespan.

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