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Post: Block saw speeds up pallet production in a bullish market

The robust chain-driven carousel mechanism

Forklifts and pallets are ubiquitous in all industries and critical assets needed to keep bulk goods moving within and between countries. The global pallet market reached a value of US$ 57.6-billion in 2021 and is projected to reach US$ 75.9-billion by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% during 2022-2027.

The statistics are from the ResearchAndMarkets.com report on The Pallet Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027″. It analyses the key trends in each sub-segment of the global pallet market along with forecasts at global, regional and country levels for the next five years. 

The abrupt lockdown of supply chains in 2020/21 caused critical disruption across suppliers like pallet manufacturers as agricultural products and commodities movement slowed or stopped, and demand dropped.

However, when economies resumed as the pandemic began to subside, log suppliers and sawmills could initially not meet demand, and prices escalated. The shortage of wood and high prices affected the southern African and international pallet industries leading to fewer pallets built and constrained supply.

Neil Murray of Pinnacle-SA says the report confirms his experience and that of his pallet manufacturing customers. “The demand for pallets to move goods in southern Africa is strong, despite an increase in recycling and repairing pallets and plastic alternatives.” 

Murray is managing director of Pinnacle-SA (formerly Multisaw), the South African manufacturing company specialising in designing and manufacturing semi-automated solutions for the sawmilling and wood processing sector.

He says wood pallets remain popular because they are durable, lightweight, and cost-effective. There are two main types of wooden pallets, block pallets and stringer pallets. Block pallets are made with wooden blocks for support, while stringer pallets use wooden stringer boards to bear the weight of the load. 

Block pallets, the most commonly used in Europe, are traditionally made of softwood. Stringer pallets are made of soft or hardwoods, with the hardwood stringer pallets more common in North America. The main advantage of block pallets is that they are structurally stronger and accessible by a forklift from four sides. A stringer pallet can only be accessed from two sides.

While block pallets have a long lifespan and need less frequent repairs than stringers, the downside is that the blocks can’t be repaired and must be replaced. They use more materials and are more expensive.

A forklift can access a block pallet from all sides. A stringer pallet is accessible from only two sides.

Despite the disadvantages, the more versatile block pallet is beginning to dominate as the growth in international trade puts pressure on industries to standardise the type of wood pallet they use. For example, CHEP (Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool), the owner of the blue pallets on every continent and the largest pallet pooling service in the world, only uses block wood pallets.

Murray says that apart from the large pallet manufacturers like CHEP, several sawmills are manufacturing pallets to increase their recovery and broaden their market exposure.

“We are also receiving enquiries from entrepreneurs who have access to wood and want to start a small pallet manufacturing business for local non-exporting companies producing vegetables, fruit, furniture, packaging and other commodities.”

The Pinnacle-SA team has designed and developed a block saw to semi-automate the block cutting process. The Pinnacle Block Saw is a single-bladed, carousel-style saw that increases the output piece count for block pallet manufacturing. 

The design allows for multiple block sizes and adjustments for block lengths to be done effortlessly. 

Up to 10 pieces of timber 70 mm to 120mm wide and 90mm thick can be loaded at once. It accurately cuts blocks between 50mm and 200mm long at a rate of up to 3,800 blocks per hour. The pieces are ejected and can either be collected manually or fed onto a conveyor.

By: Joy Crane
Source: WoodBiz Africa Magazine

Read the June issue here

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  • Arxada
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  • FSC
  • Hin-Tech Manufacturing
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  • Loadtech Load Cells
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  • Merensky
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  • Those who grow alone, die alone: why transformation is strategic for the MTO Group
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Block saw speeds up pallet production in a bullish market

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