An increasingly important logistics tool,reusable plastic packaging comes in a variety of packaging types, including the pallet, is purchased with longevity in mind, but the repair of damaged plastic pallets has not yet become widely practiced. In fact, most major plastic pallet manufacturers offer buy-back programs, so that they will take back their pallets after they become damaged. As such, plastic pallets are ground for manufacture into new products.
Those damaged pallets may not have to be recycled, however. There may be an opportunity for repair of those pallets and thus stretch forward their useful life, according to a Florida company. PallTeck (www.pallteck.com) offers repair for damaged plastic pallets. The company says that it employs the latest advances in adhesive and sealants to repair plastic pallets. Its marketing efforts are centered on pallets that own and use plastic pallets, plastic pallet manufacturers requiring warranty repairs, as well as the defense logistics sector.
One of the challenges of creating a plastic pallet repair sector is reshaping customer expectations. Up to this point in time, customers don’t generally anticipate they will repair their plastic pallets. They normally assume that when damaged pallets are returned, they will receive credit towards future purchases, according to Keith Carrington, owner of Palltek.
In Keith’s opinion, companies are seeking ways to extend the life of their pallets and the pallet repair service offered by PallTek provides such an inroad. He notes that the price of a high quality rackable plastic pallet is in the $70 range, while PallTek can offer repair services for somewhere between $3 and $25.
Keith evolved his concept of plastic pallet repair over two years before launching the business. He previously worked in the chemical industry and around plastic pallets. It was in this environment that he first saw the need for a plastic pallet repair service.
“We developed a structural adhesive that allows us to very cost effectively repair plastic pallets,” he said. “Usually we can repair about 70 to 80% of the damaged pallets we receive from a customer.” PallTek typically sorts damaged pallets first prior to repair.
The most common damage that PallTek encounters in rackable plastic pallets is top deck separation. Palltek says that plastic pallets can be repaired to be stronger than they were originally when the structural adhesive is applied.
An epoxy resin is used for holes and other penetrating damage in blocks. In performing repairs, PallTek is mindful that the repair cannot add any additional weight to the original pallet, while maintaining full functionality of the pallet.
When it comes to plastic pallet repair, welding is often accepted as the first course of action, but PallTek advises its customers away from welding. While PallTek has the capability to weld, the company has found that structural adhesives provide a more durable repair. Welding requires the heated manipulation of the plastic into a viscous state that allows for adhesion of the welded components. Through the heating process, PallTek and chemists at several independent laboratories found that the plastic weld material is weakened and does not provide the same shear strength and tolerances that can be achieved through the use of patented structural adhesives.
PallTek currently uses seven different adhesives to use for specific materials or types of repair. The company fixes all types of plastic pallets, as long as it makes sense commercially to do so. For example, a customer with a unique pallet and very small volumes might not provide a commercial incentive to develop a solution.
One problem that PallTek has encountered is that while customers have a budget for pallet replacement, they do not have a budget for repair, as this is a cost-effective option that they have not yet considered. As the possibility of plastic pallet repair is established, this is a hurdle that will be overcome.
Based on early success, PallTek plans to double its production facility size and triple its workforce.