Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Beginners Guide to Wooden Pallets

pic3Do you have products you need to ship? Not sure which pallet type to choose from? Any business that ships products internationally knows you must have the right pallet to provide optimal protect for the items being transported. Pallets are a common freight packaging option which enables for easy transportation of bulk items. They’re a strong horizontal platform which is used as a base for supporting any bulk storage container.
Worldwide pallets are used in almost every warehouse, cargo ship, and moving truck. If you’re a new business and need to choose a pallet type that best suits your needs, the following is a guide on the advantages and disadvantages of wooden pallets.

What Is a Wooden Pallet?

A wooden pallet is a horizontal grid used as a base, built for the purpose of supporting large bulky storage containers or products. These pallets are designed with special openings for forklifts to easily insert their forks and lift the pallet where needed.
Wooden pallets are generally used for national and international transport of goods. They are generally treated according to each country’s regulations to ensure there aren’t any contaminates that could spread to other parts of the world.

Advantages of Wooden Pallets

When it comes to wooden pallets, there are many advantages. Their advantages include that they are:

  • Inexpensive – Wooden pallets tend to be more inexpensive than pallets made of other materials. Because of their inexpensive design, they provide a cost-effective solution for any business.
  • Easy to Repair – Another great thing about wooden pallets is they’re easily repaired when a breakage occurs. This means you simply have to replace a broken board instead of replacing the entire pallet.
  • Recyclable – Another great thing about wooden pallets is their recyclable properties. Pallets can be made from recycled wood and, when they’re no longer needed, they can be recycled into mulch.
  • Strong – Wooden pallets also offer high strength properties against friction during product transportation. They provide enough support without the risk of breaking while fully loaded.

Disadvantages of Wooden Pallets

While wooden pallets are beneficial for many businesses, they also come with a few disadvantages. These disadvantages include that they are:

  • Susceptible to Wear – The problem with wooden pallets is that they suffer wear and tear. Some of the issues that can occur with wooden pallets include splintering, weakening, and warping of the boards. While the initial start-up costs may be lower than most other pallet types, the continual cost may be more expensive.
  • Harder to Handle – Anyone who has to handle these pallets will have to be careful. This is due to the higher risk of protruding splinters and nails. Workers will have to wear gloves or other protective hand gear.
  • Harder to Clean – Wooden pallets, unlike plastic or metal, will be harder to keep clean. Wood pallets require special treatment to keep them clean and free from insects and pesticides. If shipping internationally, the wood needs to be specially treated to eradicate any infectious plant diseases or species of insects.

Wooden Pallet Overview Table

The following table is an overview of specifications of a wooden pallet:

Wooden Pallet Features Wooden Pallet Results
Shipping Regulation Yes (ISPM-15)
Recyclable Yes
Repairable Yes
Flexibility Yes
Weight Heavy
Anti-slip Good
Last Lasts Long Time
Cost Low Cost

Wood Pallet Facts

  • In businesses, wooden pallets are the most demanded pallet type out of all other materials. In a study conducted by Modern Materials Handling, wooden pallets are still the dominate choice, with up to 95 percent of those who responded using the pallets for their industry needs.
  • In the U.S. alone, there are more than 1.8 billion pallets which are used. 93 percent are made from wood.
  • Over $400 billion worth of U.S. trade is exported on wooden pallets annually.
  • Wooden pallets are 100% recyclable, reusable, and renewable.
  • Wooden pallets are capable of a variety of uses, and are not just for storage and transport of products. They can also be transformed into benches, tables, and more. The possibilities are endless.

Conclusion

When it comes to wooden pallets for your business, they’re a great asset which should be considered carefully. By knowing the advantages and disadvantages of wooden pallets, you can make an informed decision based on the needs of your company.
Wooden pallets are not only used annually by thousands of businesses around the world and in the U.S., but they provide a strong and sturdy support solution for your heavy bulky products, making them easier to move at a later date. So, are you swapping over to wooden pallets? What type of pallet were you using beforehand?

A Guide to Pallet Racking Operation and Maintenance

palletOwn a large scale business? Do you use a pallet racking system? Pallet racking systems can prove to be a great asset for any business. However, without the proper maintenance and correct operations, they can cause major problems and health risks to workers. For businesses who are using pallet racking systems, it’s advisable for all employers to ensure that their workers are fully skilled and knowledgeable in how a racking system operates.
The following is a guide to proper pallet racking operation and maintenance to help make your warehouse safer for all those involved.

Operation and Maintenance of the Racking System

When a racking system is set up, it should be maintained and operated according to the instructions of the manufacturer. Purchasing a racking system should be based upon the specific shape, weight, and size of the product which you plan to store on the system.
Your racking system should also be compatible with the types of pallets that are used within your industry, along with any material handling equipment which is used within the workplace. For example, the size of your pallet racking system should be fitted with enough aisle space to allow easy turning of a forklift. If your racking system requires any additional modifications, you will need to check with the original manufacturer, designer, or supplier to ensure it will still meet industry standards.

Work Load Limits

The work load limit should never exceed by the unit load of the goods or products which are to be stored on the pallets, bay, or beam. To ensure safety, it’s important to make sure all workers are fully informed about the safe working loads for your specific pallet racking. A great way to inform workers about the work load limits can be to place up signs in highly visible areas which feature:

  • The supplier’s name and trademark
  • Racking manufacturer’s name
  • The installation date
  • The designer’s name
  • The working unit load limit
  • Total working unit load limit for each separate bay
  • The total unit load limit for each separate pallet beam level
  • The maximum distance between the second and the first beam level
  • The maximum distance range from the base plate level to the first beam level

Racking System Components and Design Modifications

If you’re looking to modify the racking system in any way, it’s important to remember that this may affect the load limit and the way the pallet racking system will support the pallets when used. Any modifications should be brought to the notice of all employees through basic communication and proper signage.
It’s important for you to never make any physical alterations to brackets, components, beams, uprights, or clips without specific recommendations from the manufacturer. If other parts are used within the modification, it should be reported, and the new load limits and integrity should be revalued.
In areas which feature single bay racking systems where a single row is installed and a pedestrian crossing is at the back of the racking system, the installation of rear protection should be installed to help prevent the possible falling of the pallet loads from the back of the racking.

Operating Safety Instructions

To make sure your pallet racking system is operated safely, it’s important to address everything with your workers. Some things your operation instructions should consist of include:

  • SWLS
  • Correct use and application of all equipment
  • Prohibitions on any unauthorized alterations
  • Requirement that any damage to be reported for assessment.

Stored Goods on Pallet Safety

The goods you’re going to store on your pallet racking system needs to be addressed to ensure optimal safety for workers. Some things that should be addressed include:

  • Is the safety rack suitable for the products and their weight?
  • Will the pallet rack support the products?
  • Are the pallet racks easily accessible to work equipment when required?

If there are any changes which have occurred with the pallet racking system, it’s important to have it checked by someone with prior knowledge of the system. It is also important to know when any changes have occurred with the pallets themselves.

Conclusion

When it comes to proper pallet racking operation and maintenance for workplace safety, it’s important to take everything into consideration. By following these simple guidelines, you can easily create a safer working environment for all your employees. Remember that inspection of your racking system and workplace should be done a few times a year to ensure everyone is safe all year round. So, have you implemented any of these safety guidelines for your pallet racking system? Did you see any problems around your own system?

Inspection Tips for Checking Racking Systems

pallets Own a warehouse stock business? Does it have pallet racking systems? Pallet racking systems are specially designed to support the storage of pallets for a set period of time. These racking systems offer many advantages for any business; however, it’s important to remember that proper maintenance should be carried out with all racking systems. The following are some inspection tips you can use to check your racking system to make sure it’s safe after long periods of use.

Inspection Tips You Need to Know

Are Your Beams Overloaded?

When beams are overloaded, it will cause an abundance of deflection. To work out whether your beams are overloaded, simply check the connectors at the parallel beam where two beams connect at an upright. If your racking system is overloaded, it will cause deformities at the connectors with an evident V shape.
You may also see evidence of “permanent set” with unloaded beams. In cases such as this, the racking system will need to be inspected thoroughly by a competent and skilled individual.

Is There Any Damage to Welds or Beams?

Another thing to watch out for is any obvious signs that a beam has been hit by a forklift or pallet. If you find a damaged beam, it should be replaced, as any damage may cause problems with the integrity and strength of the beam and structure. If there’s only minor damage, it’s important to check welding to make sure there aren’t any cracks.

Are All Connectors and Safety Clips Accounted For?

When inspecting your pallet rack system, it’s important to examine all the clips and connectors to make sure there aren’t any missing or any which are damaged. If you find there are a lot dislodged, you may need to contact the manufacturer to determine the cause, and what needs to be done to correct it.

Are There Any Beams Dislodged from the Upright?

If you find a beam has dislodged or popped from the upright, it’s important to address the issue immediately. A popped beam means that only one end is suspended on one connector. This is a potential hazard, as it could collapse at any time. It’s always best to check all beam ends to make sure they aren’t dislodged.

Working Load Limits

Is There Appropriate Rack Loading?

While inspecting the pallet racking system, it’s important to observe whether there’s enough signage provided by the installer or designer. It also gives you a guide as to whether the rack configurations have been altered or not.

Uprights and Footplates

Are Any Uprights Damaged?

When checking uprights, take notice of any significant damage. If you find any cracks, splits, or twists, it’s important to replace that section or splice in a brand new section to that upright. The equipment manufacturer will need to approve all splices. If you find that the upright is really damaged, it should be replaced, along with the footplate.

Are All Splices in Great Condition?

When inspecting your pallet racking system, it’s important to check that all splices are also taken care of. They shouldn’t be below 1.5m, and should be above the first beam level. There should also be only 1 splice between two adjacent beams.

Out of Plumb

Is All Racking Vertical?

Incorrect installation is one of the major causes of out-of-plumb racking. This is usually a result of heavy impact, settling of the floor slabs, or overloading. If you find any out of order racking, you should contact your manufacturer.

Braces

Are Any Racking Braces Damaged?

During inspection, it’s always good to check the racking braces for damage. If you find any horizontal, diagonal, and bent braces, you will need to replace them as soon as possible. The member deviation shouldn’t exceed 10mm from a 1m long straight on either of the planes

Floor Fixing

Are All Appropriate Floor Fixings Installed?

While checking the racking system, it’s important to check to see whether all floor fixing is undamaged, and it’s installed correctly. If you find a damaged floor fixing, it must be replaced, along with the footplate. There should be two anchors at each foot plate.

How to Stop Damage to Your Racking System

To help reduce the damage caused by the pallet hitting the footplate, uprights, or braces, you can install knee height racking beams in the bottom bay. This will help with raising the height of your products and help with manual lifting activities by workers.

Conclusion

If your racking system needs to be inspected, why not follow these helpful inspection tips to make sure you locate all problem areas as they arrive. You could be surprised at how much damage your racking system may or may not have. So, did you find any additional damage in your pallet racking system?

The Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes

shipping container houseLooking to build a new home? Want a few affordable options? Shipping container homes are becoming increasingly popular, as the years go on, and they have become a more affordable option compared to building a new home. This new trend has seen the development of amazing and creatively designed shipping container homes which would rival any architecture design.
If you’re considering one as a possible home solution, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of shipping container homes. The following is a guide to the pros and cons of shipping container homes and what you need to look out for.

Advantages of Shipping Container Homes

Price

The price of a shipping container home is much more affordable compared to homes built from brick and mortar. To build a brick home, it can cost you anywhere from $300,000 and upward. Shipping container homes, on the other hand, can cost anywhere from $10,000 and up. The price tends to offer more appeal for many who can’t afford the traditional home. This is why many people are opting for this type of home.

Eco Friendly

Shipping container homes are more eco-friendly, in some regards, compared to normal brick homes. Studies have shown that the 2nd reason why a person may purchase a shipping container home is because of its eco-friendly properties. The eco-friendly factors come into play due to the supply of unused shipping containers which are available today. It’s estimated that there are roughly 17 million shipping containers around the world. Only 6 million of these are said to be in use, leaving 11 million containers rusting away. This means that, with each shipping container, roughly 3,500kgs of steel is being recycled.

Off-Site Construction

Another advantage of a shipping container home is that it can be built off site and moved to your location. This is beneficial in many ways. Sometimes a block of land may not be flat enough to construct a home, or electricity may not be connected. This can cause problems when using power tools during the design process. Workshops or companies which specialize in these homes generally have large warehouse-like work spaces. This also helps if rainy weather persists longer than expected when working outside.

Fast to Build

Another advantage of a shipping container home is that it’s faster to build than your ordinary home. This is because the structure is already built, and it just needs to be refined with insulation. Because of their speed in building, it’s another common reason why many people opt for this type of home.

Disadvantages of Shipping Container Homes

Materials and Composition

A downside to having a shipping container home is that they’re usually painted with a special coating which generally contains harmful chemicals, such as lead, phosphorous, or chromate, to help them become more suitable for transport across vast spans of ocean. Another problem which you may come across is that some containers have wooden flooring which may feature chemical pesticides for insect protection. In order to use shipping containers, you will need to take these chemical risks into consideration to properly address the issue.

Internal Temperature and Energy Rating

Another problem with shipping container homes is the inability to control the internal temperature throughout the changing seasons. The metal of shipping containers is thinner than some other metal containers, which makes them more susceptible to the changes in temperatures. However, this can be managed with the proper integration of insulation.

Limited Design Options

Although you can create amazing homes from shipping containers, the problem is that they generally all feature a uniformity and stiffness. This is because shipping containers are all one shape. They offer limited room expansion unless you cut and join large sections of the containers together.

Susceptible to Wear and Tear

Just like any home, shipping container homes are susceptible to wear and tear over time. This can be in the form of rust or chipping of paint. Rust will occur faster if the shipping container isn’t prepared properly before creating the home. It’s always best to check with the company who is creating your home, to make sure it is treated accordingly for rust resistance.

Conclusion

Shipping container homes are fast becoming a popular housing option for many people around the world. From their inexpensive design to their eco-friendly properties, they provide a unique home like never before. When considering a shipping container for your future home, it’s important to take everything into consideration and weigh out the pros and cons of shipping container homes. So, are you still open to using a shipping container as a home?

Are plastic food containers safe to reuse

ARE PLASTIC

FOOD CONTAINERS SAFE TO REUSE?

Most people have been relying on plastic storage containers for food preservation for years
now. From Japanese takeout to last night’s spaghetti in a bowl, plastics are ubiquitous with food
storage. While these types of containers do come in handy for more reasons than you may
even realize, recently the potential health risks associated
the public, regardless of whether it is deserved or not.

Public scrutiny aside, the reality of the situation is simple: some forms of plastic containers have
been linked to serious health hazards like cancer, reproductive disorders, and more. However,
these plastics are seldom found in the containers we use everyday. So don’t go running into
your kitchen just yet!

A CLOSER LOOK AT PLASTIC

While many are opting to completely prevent plastics
from making any sort of contact with their food, this may
be a bit of an extreme solution. The Green Guide, a
sustainable living magazine and website owned by the
National Geographic Society, has stated that there are,
in fact, many plastics in use every single day by major
brands that contain no harmful chemicals, even after
repeat uses.

According to them, the safest plastics to use in a container are
high-density polyethylene (HDPE, otherwise known as plastic #2),
low-density polyethylene (LDPE, or plastic #4) and polypropylene
(PP, or plastic #5). The overwhelming majority of products use these
kinds of plastics, making them safe for heating and washing, as well
as storing food.

Major brands such as Glad, Hefty, Saran, and Ziploc utilize these plastics in most,
but not all, of their products. It is very important to read on the bottom of the con-
tainer exactly what types of plastic fill your kitchen cabinets, as well as the shelves
at your local grocery store.

For instance, you may see these brands above and think that what you own is
safe, but several of these plasticware products use polycarbonates. While these
plastics are referred to as plastic #7, truthfully, this is a catch-all category for any
plastics that don’t fit into the 1-6 list, making it even harder to know exactly what is
inside the product itself.

These types of plastic have been shown to release harmful chemicals like Bisphe-
nol A, which can have hormone-disrupting qualities. If you are concerned about
this chemical, it may be best to avoid brands like the Rock ‘N Serve microwave
line, the Meals-in-Minutes Microsteamer, the “Elegant” Serving Line, the Tupper-
Care baby bottle, the Pizza Keep’ N Heat container, and the Table Collection.
While some of these are no longer in production, it is important to know what you
already have and use in your home, not just what is safe for purchase.

While conclusive studies are still to be made, the U.S. Food and Drug Administra-
tion is currently studying the Bisphenol A in connection with possible hindrances to
the development of the brain and prostate gland, especially in cases of infants and
children.

SOME PLASTICS CONTAIN HARMFUL CHEMICALS

Some other types of plastic containers contain harmful chemicals that can become
entangled with food after repeated use. Items sold from your local deli, for instance,
can contain plastic wraps made with polyvinyl chloride, or plastic #3. This type of
plastic can contain cancer-causing dioxins, so there is a real concern to be had there.

Another plastic we see every single day that can contain harmful chemicals is called
polyethylene terephthalate, or plastic #1. This plastic is most commonly found in your
average soda or water bottle. These types of plastics are generally fine for a single
use, but after that they, too, can release carcinogenic phthalates when used more
than once. You may find yourself tempted to reuse that water bottle for several days,
but, before you do, you should know the potential risks of doing so.

According to manufacturers, the bottle itself can physically break down after multiple
uses, opening up the possibility of contamination with foreign substances, as well as
the plastic materials itself. Studies have shown that these bottles can become a real
safe haven for bacteria after repeated uses.

A FEW IMPORTANT STUDIES

One such study occurred in 2002 and was conducted by the Canadian Journal of
Public Health. Researchers from the University of Calgary collected samples from 76
water bottles that were in use by elementary school students. Upon testing these sam-
ples, the researchers discovered that over 75% of these samples contained bacteria
levels that were above accepted guidelines.

This, they claimed, may have been due to “the effect of bacterial regrowth in bottles that
have remained at room temperature for an extended period.” So, the question then
becomes: When was the last time you washed your water bottle out?

While this particular study did not find the source of the contamination, it did attribute it
to the students’ hands themselves. As the plastic broke down, these germs (which often
came from improper hygiene at home and in the restroom) would find it easier and
easier to contaminate the container. This was made worse still by the combination of
nutrients gained from “backwash,” and the room temperature environments that these
bottles were often subjected to.

Still other studies have shed new light into just how bad this contamination can get.
News Station KLTV once conducted a study where the bacteria level of water bottles
was monitored for a week, with the bottles not being washed. Cultures were taken from
the neck of the bottles, as well as the part of the bottle that goes in a person’s mouth.
The results of this study were abysmal: They found that each sample contained hordes
of bacteria. So much so, that, “All of those [water bottles] grew lots and lots of bacteria
that could make you very sick almost like having food poisoning,” Richard Wallace,
M.D., of the University of Texas Health Center, told KLTV. “[Food poisoning] can cause
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Basically the worst vomiting you have ever had in your life.”

While you may be tempted to simply wash your bottles in a dishwasher—where
extreme temperatures typically clean other dishes and containers of bacteria—this may
not be the case with bottles intended for only a single use. These types of plastics can
break down at these temperatures, likely only increasing the rate that contaminations
can and will occur inside the bottle.

Of course, you may feel the need to reuse plastic bottles on occasion, and this can still
be done relatively safely. Just remember to keep the frequency down as much as
possible.

As discussed below, plastics amount to a significant part of the world’s waste, so it is
best to try to cut back on plastic waste wherever and whenever possible. Some plastic
bottles are made from a more durable and safer type of plastic that is meant to be used
more than once. These bottles will often be marketed and sold as reusable, which is
largely the truth, but even these have their limitations.

Safer alternatives to plastic bottles exist, of course, and should be used as often as
possible. Glass bottles with protective frames and stainless steel bottles are two great
alternatives that can be used again and again, cutting down on waste and increasing
the safety of the liquid inside of them. These bottles are often a bit more expensive up
front, but they can end up saving you money in the long run.

STYROFOAM

One other common plastic used for storing food
comes in the form of polystyrene, otherwise more
commonly known as Styrofoam. Many restaurants
use these containers for leftovers and takeout
orders. The base component of Styrofoam, styrene,
has been associated with skin, eye, and respiratory
irritation, depression, fatigue, lowered and failed
kidney function, and central nervous system
damage. These types of plastics can be avoided by
swapping foods out of said containers and into safer
ones once you have them in your home.

PLASTIC ALTERNATIVES

Safer alternatives to plastic bottles exist, of course, and should be used as often as
possible. Glass bottles with protective frames and stainless steel bottles are two great
alternatives that can be used again and again, cutting down on waste and increasing
the safety of the liquid inside of them. These bottles are often a bit more expensive up
front, but they can end up saving you money in the long run.

Thankfully, there is a safe alternative to plastic food storage, should you feel the need
to make the switch. Before doing this, however, it may be best to take an “inventory” of
sorts of your plastic containers at home. On the bottom of any container there should
be a recycling code, which you can use to determine just what kinds of plastics are in
use in the container itself. Using this information, you can decide whether you will want
to make the switch to an alternative, or stick with your generally safe storage containers
that you already have.

Should you decide that a change must be made, glass is often the first choice. Glass
containers have been gaining popularity in recent years due primarily to decreases in
cost, and a general interest in alternative food storage methods. Pyrex is one such
brand that offers inexpensive and safe food storage containers made entirely of glass.
These containers may run the risk of shattering if dropped, but many people find this a
worthwhile tradeoff for peace of mind. Several other brands are now offering similar
containers of different sizes and shapes, making this a more viable alternative than
ever.

If you do decide to make the switch to glass storage, the question then becomes: What
should you do with all of your existing plastic food storage containers? Americans throw
away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year, which goes into landfills where it
can take centuries to break down. Recycling of plastic does help to put a dent in this
number, and naturally, not all (or even the majority) of plastic thrown away consists of
food storage containers. But, there is still a very real connection between discarding
food storage plastics and the overall plastic waste produced. Because of this, let’s take
a moment and show you several alternatives to throwing your plastic ware in the
disposal.


Alternative # 1 – Flower Pots

Plastic containers make excellent flowerpots for a few reasons. They
keep water safely sealed inside the soil for longer than water poured
onto a flower in the ground. In addition to this, these containers can
support root growth until the plant is healthy and strong enough to be
transported to the open soil. After the transferal is complete, the con-
tainer is free to be used for the next fledging seeds.


Alternative # 2 – Bird Feeders

While plastics may not be suitable (or even healthy) for human use,
birds and squirrels will do just fine with them. Turning old containers
into hanging or perched bird feeders will not only be a safe and more
sustainable alternative to throwing them away, it will also create a
point of interest to watch as birds, squirrels, and other small animals
become aware of your new impromptu feeder.


Alternative # 3 – Piggy Bank

Have some loose change rattling around your home or car? Collect it
and turn one of your containers in a bank to accumulate coins in! Not
only is this a safe and free alternative to recycling plastics, this one
may make you some extra money! Every time you get change from a
store or café, simply take the loose change and put it inside of your
newly created bank, and sit back and watch the money pile up. It may
even be a good idea to create several of these as you go along.


Alternative # 4 – DIY iPod Boombox

This one is sure to liven things up a bit! You
can take a large storage container and cut
holes in the lid for small speakers, and then
use Styrofoam to hold the speakers in place!
Simply cut a space for your device to rest in,
and you’ve got yourself a portable party.


Alternative # 5 – First Aid Kit

Keep all of your medical essentials, like bandages, disinfectant, oint-
ment, and gauze all in one central place by converting a plastic con-
tainer into a custom first aid kit for you and your family. You can even
create several of these kits for specific members of your household,
which could include things like individual medications, personal
hygiene products, and more!

WRAP UP

The dangers of plastics are very real, and extremely harmful to anyone with the misfor-
tune of coming into contact with them. Proper steps should be taken to ensure that the
containers you have inside your home are as safe as possible, and that they possess the
lowest risk for passing the dangerous chemicals onto and into your body.

That being said, the vast majority of the plastic storage containers in use and in produc-
tion today do not contain any of these chemicals. Finding the balance between safety,
comfort, and convenience may lead you to alternatives like glassware for your storage
needs, or you may find that your current plasticware is up to snuff and does not warrant
replacing.

Whichever position you find yourself in, be certain to stay current and always be diligent
when adding new brands or containers into your kitchen lineup. In doing so, you stand the
best chance of keeping you and your family happy, safe, and healthy when using plastic
storage containers.