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What makes a great pallet great

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CMTP in Colac, Victoria, is Loscam's principal wooden pallet supplier, and for 20 years, has been stencilling the Loscam name on thousands of pallets. Managing director Chris Meade reveals what makes a Loscam pallet a great pallet.

“Certainly, having the right timber is critical,” Chris said.

"We use radiata pine, which has to be cut to size accurately and be consistent. Automation of the nailing processes where we can guarantee the nail goes into the same place, at the same depth, every time, has made a big difference. Also being able to skew the nail, strengthens the pallet. Our manufacturing team shows genuine pride in producing high quality Loscam pallets.

"In the early days we used all hardwood,” Chris said. “We had been aware for a long time, of the benefits that softwood provided but mounting pressure from our customers to provide a 'New Generation' pallet to meet both the ever-increasing levels of automation and to reduce the risk of damage to their products, saw a change to hardwood bearers with pine decks.

“We found that created 'twisting', so we then moved to all- pine construction. This has made the pallet lighter, cleaner, and as forklift drivers are now well trained and more responsible for OHS issues, there is much less damage to the pallets."

CMTP started in 1976.

"There was a brick company that delivered their bricks on pallets, and wanted those pallets back very quickly due to the pallet's cost," Chris said.

"I saw an opportunity and from that start we made another product - potato bins. We still make bins but we needed growth, so we chased pallet manufacture. After five years of knocking on Loscam's door, we received our first order."

Chris said automation had demanded a more stringent, accurate standard of timber.

"We have gone from making them on a jig with nail guns, to a semi-automated system and are now moving closer to full automation. Last year, we installed a fully-automated painting and stencilling line. In September 2005, we installed a further pallet line that will produce up to 3000 pallets per shift.

“Automation assists in the elimination of defects like size discrepancies, board position and overhang. This is important when robotics are used in palletising product, the pallet conforms exactly to automation expectations.

"CMTP value highly the relationship with Loscam and we are always looking at ways to improve, I think that's why the partnership has been very successful."

He said people often talked about plastic being the pallet of the future, but he believes timber will still be around for a long time.

"Perhaps it will come to a composite pallet, which is more likely. We expect pallets will have a silicon chip or RFID in them for tracking and when truck drivers enter plants, it will enable an automated inventory upgrade for clients receival and dispatch of stock and pallets."

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