According to Singapore’s Economic Development Board, “Standardization” is the common denominator in the logistic chain and is pivotal. Standardization will enhance Singapore’s competitiveness especially in the major areas of automated storage and retrieval systems.
With a universally accepted standard sized pallet, warehouses and distribution systems can be streamlined, workers can operate more efficiently, cartons and packaging are in conformity and other materials handling equipments does not need to be adjusted. The concept is valid and the advantages of standardization are far reaching.
The Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research SISIR, has set out a number of guidelines for pallet size. The ISO approved pallet, measuring 1000mm x 1200mm with four way access for forklifts is considered the optimum size for handling modern, international sized cartons .
The pallet fits modern racking systems, containers and trucks with minimal wastage of space and conforms to ISDO 445:1984. In the SISIR document, specification for timber pallets, Singapore standard 334:1988, the scope, definitions, designations, methods of testing and pallet handling are listed in detail.
The advantages of standard pallets are evident in a central distribution system such as Davids Asia Pte Ltd, a supermarket supplier, and according to local Managing Director; John DEuchars said:
“To set up a central warehouse worth several million dollars, standard sized pallets are a fundamental part of the system. To accommodate pallets of different sizes, I would need different forklifts, different racking and the end result would mean higher costs passed onto the consumer”
Standardization is efficient and cost-effective, manufacturers can design cartons for optimum usage of space and the transport industry can see that different pallets sizes is a waste of space , time and money. Standardization trims costs across all levels of industry, and from one country to the next.
The advantages of standardizing pallets clearly outweigh the disadvantages although one major disadvantage would be the concern about what is done with all the current pallets that do not conform to 1000mm x 1200mm size.
Initially, this will be a problem although the wood is valuable and could be sold and recycled. Alternatively ,non standardized pallets can be for one way exported where recovery is not an option.
Once the changeover to a standard size is completed, any transitory inconvenience will become a dim memory in favor of many advantages experienced of using the standard pallet.
The transition to standardized pallets is simpler with the availability of a pallet hire or pooling system. Although the relative cost of a pallet is low, the cumulative costs are substantial.
The function of the pool is to ensure that the pallets are redistributed back into the user and that the ownership of the pallet – wherever it goes to, its return, its condition and numerous other factors are not impediments to the distribution process. An open pool manages all these risks.
The operation of the pallet hire system is simple and user friendly. The users do not purchase the pallets; avoid repair and recovery costs, have no disposal and all hired pallets can be transferred to another party or physically exchanged at the point of delivery with no storage and relocation costs, the use, demand and supply of hired pallets would balance out through the entire distribution chain.
The pallet hire system has a computerized system that automatically tracks all the hire pallets in the pool. The pallet hire company is able to supply to the customers, at the end of each month, a detailed pallet hire invoice that accurately accounts for the pallet usage and hire charges.
Utilization of the hired pallets are carefully monitored to assist the customers to maximize their storage requirements in the most cost efficient manner.
The implementation of standardization in racking, materials handling facilities, transportation and central distribution systems will facilitate productivity savings as labor cost keeps continuously escalating. The pallet therefore, is the cornerstone of the entire materials handling industry.