Pallet science…

Looking at an unloved pallet lost in the corner of a warehouse or factory yard, it might be hard to appreciate that at the beginning of its journey real care was taken to use it efficiently.

There is a mathematical science behind the perfect use of a pallet. It is referred to as ‘pallet cube optimisation’ and a lot of people, time and research is dedicated to this unsung science.

Put very simply, ‘pallet cube optimisation’ means getting as many products on a pallet as possible. The more products you can get on to a single pallet, the more you can reduce your shipping costs and carbon footprint. Of course, this has to be done using the laws of physics. Any manipulation of the time and space continuum would be cheating.

Colin White's Strategic Management

A good read – it’s not just about pallets…

The most quoted example is the Ikea ‘Bang’ mug. In Colin White’s book ‘Strategic Management’ he describes how the mug was redesigned a number of times to specifically fit more on to a pallet. Instead of 864 mugs, Ikea managed to squeezed 2,204 on to a pallet and cut 60% off its shipping costs. It just goes to show that the boffins at Ikea are no mugs… (We’d recommend their Swedish meatballs too.)

Ikea catalogue

The 2013 Ikea Catalogue will contain a choice of mugs…

There are even 3D computer software solutions dedicated to helping manufacturers and distributors pile more products onto a pallet. At the very basic level the software allows you to type in the dimensions of your product or its packaging and it will show you the best way to stack the pallet. Most software solutions can do a lot more than that but you get the picture.

The point is that right from the start a lot of effort and care goes into using a pallet to the absolute max. So, it is a crying shame to then simple discard the wooden wonder into a corner once the product reaches its destination. The least we can do is make sure that the pallet continues to be cared for, recycled and reused to the absolute max again and again.

Not just a pretty pallet…

There is more to the humble pallet than just the distribution of goods and products around the Globe, especially when it comes to the recycling and reusing of this understated wooden wonder.

If we were to say to you that pallets could be the basis for sustainable architecture, beautiful furniture, brilliant art and a bit of gardening; we’d forgive you for being a little bit sceptical.Pallet shelvesBut just go to PH Pallet’s Pinterest page and be amazed by the versatility of a wooden pallet. From a quaint shelf in your home to a strikingly contemporary pallet pavilionby German architect Matthias Loebermann – the creativity is incredible.

Of course, we would prefer that the pallets came into us for repair and recycling, so that they can be put to use by our customers for what they were originally intended for.

Pallet Pavilion - Matthias Loebermann

Photographed by Mila Hacke, Berlin

But as long as a pallet or its wood doesn’t end up collecting dust in the corner of a warehouse or dumped in landfill, then we’re a happy bunch at PH Pallets.

Pallet stairs

Green testing for our customers…

It’s easy for us to say that we’re ethical and professional specialists in total pallet management and recycling. We can also tell you that we don’t send anything to landfill from our North West England operations unit near Manchester. Both statements are completely true but it’s only fair that we back them up with independent, trusted and respectable certification.

PH Pallets paper recycling

For all our paper recycling.

So, as we write this PH Pallets is going through the demanding, detailed and stringent assessments for ISO 14000.

The International Organization for Standardisation, better known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organisations, which obviously include environmental bodies.

ISO 14000 is a family of standards related to environmental management that helps businesses and organisations minimise how their operations and processes impact on the environment; comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other green requirements; and continually improve its green management.

PH Pallets wood recycling

For all our wood recycling.

PH Pallets sorting department

Our pallet sorting and grading department – notice the small separate skips for polythene and wood!

Achieving and maintaining ISO 14000 standards are not just important to us, so we can mention the fact that we’re an environmentally ethical company during polite conversation.
Environmental certification is essential because our customers also have green targets set by government and EU legislation, guidelines, regulations and also their own customers. For example, it means a lot to retailers that then can reassure increasingly ethically aware consumers that their contactors and suppliers are also reducing their carbon footprint.

When PH Pallets achieves ISO 14000 status it will be another reasons why our customers ask us to collect, recycle and provide their wooden pallets.

It’s about protecting the environment and it’s also good business.

Good news to start with…

It’s very nice to start off our new PH Pallet blog with some good news! We’ve marked the completion of a £400,000 investment with the announcement of more plans for the future.

We’re a North West England pallet management and recycling specialist, and have just finished a £150,000 upgrade of our Dukinfield operations unit and a £250,000 bespoke IT system that tracks every pallet that enters and leaves our premises.

We’re now drafting proposals to extend and develop our recycling operations. The team wants to further enhance access to our five-acre site to increase the intake of thousands of used wooden pallets for recycling.

Mark Houghton, our partner in PH Pallets, says: “Since we started in 1988 we haven’t stopped expanding and naturally we’re now looking for the next investment.

“Even during the current economic woes we’ve been able to invest in our business because we can offer companies a source of revenue – where they may have thought there was none – by buying back used pallets and recycling them.

“We don’t deal in cash or averages: every incoming pallet is logged, sorted, graded and paid for thanks to our custom-built IT system, and our clients are provided with detailed reports of exactly what they’ve given us.

“Also, nothing from our site goes to landfill. Clients regularly audit us on this aspect of our operations because, even in an economic downturn, it’s an important benefit to our customers looking to meet environmental targets and policies.”

A very proud Mark Houghton

For a bit of background, PH Pallets employs 29 people, handles more than 30,000 pallets every week and we have a turnover of more than £2 million a year. We have a wide client base across many industries, including retail, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, freight, warehouse and the food industry.

Exciting times ahead…