New to Buying Pallets? 2 Tips to Consider

Hello, new pallet buyer. You might soon discover that there are more nuances to the process than you might have expected! Learning some basics can reduce the risk of making costly mistakes. In this installment, we discuss the importance of getting the measurements clearly defined so you can enjoy ‘apples to apples’ bids and also the importance of reviewing your legacy pallet specification. A lot can change over the years. You will wish to find out if your spec has stood the test of time and still delivers on the best value.

Understand the difference between nominal and actual measurements 

Nominal sizing in lumber refers to the size of the board when it was initially cut before drying and planing. Actual or finished size is what you measure against the finished product with your caliper or tape measure. The difference between nominal and actual size can be essential to understand for pallet buyers.

So how does this apply to pallets? Let’s consider a Request for Quotation (RFQ) you are putting out that includes half-inch deck boards. Because pallet mills are cutting pallet stock from various sized materials such as cants or 4/4” boards, some mills will generate an actual half-inch deck boards, while others will produce a nominal half-inch with an actual measure of 7/16” or less.

Pallet pricing is generally proportional to the amount of material used in it. If you put out an RFQ that does not specify actual sizing, you might get quoted material that is a nominal half inch – or 7/16” actual.

Quotes assuming the thinner, nominal half-inch material might come back with more attractive pricing, but it is not ‘apples to apples.’ The 7/16” deck board won’t perform as well as the half-inch actual material. The moral here is to understand that a nominal measure is not necessarily an actual measure. Write the RFQ accordingly to level the playing field for bidders.

If the pallet specification is several years old, revisit it!

Over the years, the written pallet specification can vary significantly from the pallet you receive from pallet suppliers. Changes can go unrecorded. Perhaps informal modifications have been agreed upon to enhance performance or to decrease cost. Sometimes, a pallet supplier might arbitrarily reduce the specification to avoid handing out a price increase. You might even be receiving recycled pallets rather than new ones specified.

Or perhaps your material handling systems have been updated, and the plant is quietly suffering with a legacy specification that no longer optimizes your supply chain. Such a disconnect can spell trouble. When you put out your RFQ, companies might end up quoting a pallet significantly different than the one you are actually using or on one that does not best meet your present needs.

Keith Reinstetle, PalletOne’s Vice President of Sales, has seen this occur too many times to count over his career. For this reason, he encourages pallet buyers to promote site visits from approved bidders. By visiting onsite, bidders can confirm the measurements of the pallet you are using, review pallet interaction with your material handling system, and often make recommendations for design improvement opportunities.

To find out more detail, be sure to read our series:
How To Create A Successful Multi-Site Pallet Bid.

If you are new to pallet buying, there is much to consider. By taking the time to get straight the difference between nominal and actual measurement requirements and by taking time to review and update the dusty pallet specification in your filing cabinet, you are taking important steps.

 

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