This is it ! You plan to release your latest products on the market and you are now focusing on the shipping process. Aware of the fact that your products will travel hundreds or thousands of kilometers, by road, rail or seafreight, you want to make sure your pallet pattern will resist all the stresses and constraints prior to be delivered at your customers.
But here comes the critical question: how will I qualify my pallet pattern in order to avoid any damage when shipping my goods? Shall I add more transport packaging to protect my products??
As first approach, packaging teams often perform DISASTER TEST on the finished goods pallets. Using a forklift, they shake and stress the load in order to observe pallet stability. This is a quick and cheap way to test the behavior of pallets as it can be run directly in a safe area of the plant. However, the analysis of the testing is completely random as the sensitivity of your forklift driver will be different from one test to another. Therefore, disaster test does not bring a complete analysis of the transport packaging efficiency as it tests the pallet in different configurations.
A second approach focuses on SHIPPING TEST in trucks or containers on selected routes. The objective is to create an environment similar to the real world. This method requires some product availability of course, but also a higher budget as you will need to pay for transport expenditure. The analysis is more accurate but, even on specific route, the truck driver might be impacted by different parameters such as traffic, weather, road construction… In this approach, you will seek for the worst scenario with limited control on the external parameters. One huge drawback of such method is also the time needed to perform and assess the tests.
One last method leads you to a more scientific way. This approach actually combines the two above methods into a single testing sequence able to bring accuracy and repeatability. This is called a TRANSPORT SIMULATION TEST. This test is performed on simulation equipment’s (such as inclined impact table, 6 axis vibration table…) able to reproduce shakes and shocks at will. Following the analysis of your pallet flow and the creation of testing protocols, these equipment’s will execute repeatable programs. The packaging team will be then observing the behavior of the pallet and its transport packaging during all the testing sequence. As a matter of facts, the time to perform similar tests with different pallet patterns will be shortened, leading to more optimizations. The only challenge left will be to find the right and most qualified transport simulation test center.
And you, how would you measure the performance of your finished goods pallets stability ?
Author : Rémi Chenard