We’ve all had the experience of finding a great deal on a product or tool and then finding out that it doesn’t work nearly as well as we thought it would. We’re left spending extra time trying to make it work, buying add-ons to improve functionality, or finally giving up and buying the product whose price we were trying to avoid paying in the first place. Along with the upfront purchase price, the true cost of an item should include anything additional needed to make it work and the time required to get it working.
In the same way, to fully answer the question “How much do wood pallets cost?” you’ll need to account for expenses that are not built into the upfront price. In fact, what appears to be the least expensive option upfront may end up costing you more in time, materials, and repairs when it is put into operation. In this post, we’ll talk about the base price of wood pallets, as well as some hidden costs that might not be as obvious.
How Much Do Wood Pallets Cost?
The price for a brand new wood stringer pallet is around $12 dollars per pallet. Stringer pallets are pallets in which the top and bottom deck boards are nailed to two-by-four “stringers” that have notches cut out to make a passage for lifting forks. Sturdier wood block pallets, which use nine four-by-four blocks instead of stringers, cost $25 or more when new. The price of brand new pallets can add up quickly when many pallets of product are being shipped, and for this reason, many companies don’t purchase new pallets.
Just as in the case of stringer pallets, wood block pallets will eventually suffer damage that can cause issues in the supply chain.
Due to their short lifespans and the wear and tear they suffer after just one or two trips, there is a wide disparity between the costs of new and used stringer pallets. Stringer pallets that have already made at least one trip through the supply chain drop from around $12 to around $4 to $5 per pallet. This price difference reflects how quickly these pallets can degrade and the risks associated with reusing them.
The high cost of purchasing wood block pallets means that this particular type of pallet is not usually available used, as the original buyers tend to reuse them as many times as possible–often beyond the point at which the pallets should be retired. Because of their greater sturdiness, wood block pallets hold up much longer than stringer pallets and are able to make approximately twenty trips through the supply chain. However, just as in the case of stringer pallets, wood block pallets will eventually suffer damage that can cause issues in the supply chain such as jammed machinery and downtime. It’s these unexpected costs that can change the cost-benefit analysis for wood pallets.
How Much Do Wood Pallets Cost Your Business?
Usually, companies choose the pallets that appear to cost the least, and these are generally new or used wood stringer pallets. Not only are they inexpensive, they are also available nearly everywhere. However, there are some disadvantages that come along with using these inexpensive pallets:
- Short Lifespan: The wood boards used in a stringer pallet are lightweight and relatively fragile and can only hold up for so long under the heavy weight it is subjected to. This limits the lifespan of a stringer pallet to around three trips at maximum–and repairs will certainly be required during this time. If softwoods are used instead of hardwoods, a stringer pallet’s lifespan may be even shorter. Those purchasing used stringer pallets should keep in mind that the platforms may be nearing the end of their usable lives.
- Easily Damaged: Since the wood used in stringer pallets is insubstantial, these pallets can be easily damaged by the weight of the products loaded on top, the actions of heavy machinery on the boards, and the dynamic forces of a heavy load shifting as it is moved. Each of these forces can damage individual boards or the pallet as a whole, sometimes even resulting in the collapse of the entire pallet. A damaged pallet may lead to product loss or downtime for a warehouse’s automated system.
- Wood Fragments: Boards do not break cleanly and when pallet corners are chipped or edges are cracked, the result is wood dust and splinters. Sharp wood fragments can damage product cartons or packaging and render them unfit for sale. Splinters may also become foreign objects inside the product, resulting in foreign object contamination, which is a persistent problem for the food industry and its regulators. Wood debris also costs companies when it collects in truck trailers and on warehouse floors and must be regularly swept up, creating additional housekeeping costs.
- Loose Nails: The boards that make up stringer pallets are held together by nails and screws that sometimes come free when a pallet is damaged. Loose nails may also damage products and packaging, but since they are made out of metal they can do significantly more damage to machinery than wood fragments and splinters do. This can lead to line stoppages and machinery downtime.
Clearly, the ultimate result of purchasing the most inexpensive pallets is that a business pays for them in less obvious ways through product and equipment damage and even employee injury. Sturdier block pallets may last a bit longer, but these too will eventually degrade enough to cause similar issues unless they are regularly maintained–another cost that can be attributed to wood pallets. For all of these reasons, alternative pallet types that cost more upfront but less over time can pay off handsomely in the long run.
Alternatives to Wood Pallets Cost Less Long Term
The most popular and versatile alternative to wood pallets, plastic pallets, have a durable, unitized construction that is more robust than wood pallets and reduces the chances of product and machinery damage or employee injury. Just reducing product damage adds up to a total savings of $0.15 to $0.70 per pallet turn. Plastic platforms are also far lighter than heavy wood block pallets, which allows each truckload to carry more product by weight, a savings of as much as $2.76 per pallet turn. These advantages of plastic pallets easily make up for a higher upfront price per pallet.
Plastic pallet rental programs lease pallets by the batch and manage the logistics involved in transporting, cleaning, maintaining, and recycling plastic plastic pallets.
However, if you choose to purchase plastic pallets then it’s important to keep in mind that you will need to reuse them many times over to make the most of your investment. You’ll also need a way to recycle the pallets at the end of their life. This will require that you budget for the administrative costs of tracking the pallets, the transportation costs associated with reusing them, and the costs of recycling them, as well as the upfront purchase price. Fortunately, there is a sure way around these issues.
Plastic pallet rental programs lease pallets by the batch and manage the logistics involved in transporting, cleaning, maintaining, and recycling plastic pallets. Having a nationwide network of customers that participate in the program allows pooling companies to efficiently move pallets from the end of one supply chain to the beginning of another. It is the most cost-effective way for companies to enjoy the full benefits of plastic pallets without the costs of managing an internal pool.
The iGPS pallet pool provides plastic pallets in the quantities requested in order to help businesses avoid the hidden costs of pallet management. Give our team a call at 1-800-884-0225, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page to get started with the first pallet pooling program to specialize in plastic pallets.