With Ryan Roessler,
Plastic Pallet Product Manager,
The need for safety precautions intensifies as food and beverage supply chains become more
advanced and transparent. In an effort
to reduce risk in the supply chain, all
operational elements are being evaluated.
One of these elements is material handling
products, such as pallets, used to store,
handle and move product. Pallets are
essential throughout the entire supply
chain and, with the right material, they can
help minimize risk of food and beverage
contamination before it is too late.
To better understand the importance of
compliance in food and beverage supply
chains, Food Manufacturing spoke with
Ryan Roessler, Plastic Pallet Product
Manager at ORBIS Corporation, to discuss
the benefits of plastic pallets and risk-reducing material additives.
Q. What categorizes a pallet as
A. Plastic pallets are risk-reducing
because their smooth design makes them
free from protruding nails, dust, loose
boards and staples that are common with
alternative pallets. Also, their one-piece,
hygienic design allows for proper sanitation.
These are considered major advantages
as consumer interest in food and beverage
handling grows and new supply chain
restrictions reflect modern safety concerns.
Recently, The Food Safety Modernization Act
(FSMA) caused a re-evaluation of food and
beverage handling processes and systems
to prevent the production and transportation
of contaminated goods.
When the FSMA was implemented in
2011, plastic pallets became a focus of
interest for their hygienic characteristics.
Hygienic plastic pallets, for example, have
a nonporous structure so they cannot
absorb moisture, odor or mold, and they
don’t have cavities or hollow areas for
water to collect. Their one-piece design
is easy to wash and dry, so cleaning
procedures pose no issue, and their
contoured surfaces and corners lower the
risk of punctured goods and cases. These
plastic pallets also are available in a range
of sizes, styles and risk-reducing materials
to accommodate most supply chains. Now
that FSMA compliance deadlines are fast
approaching, companies should strongly
consider hygienic plastic pallets — if they
Q. What are the latest
breakthrough materials that can help
drive supply chain compliance?
A. There is a certain unpredictability
with what a unit load interacts with
in the supply chain, so pallet material
advancements are helping operators
protect against risk. Innovative plastic
pallets blended with fire-retardant, metal
and X-ray detectable, or electrostatic
discharge-safe additives are just some
of the new materials that have been
developed to minimize risk of costly
damage to product.
Here are four new plastic pallet
materials offered by ORBIS:
• Fire-retardant: These pallets are
approved by Factory Mutual Research
Corporation in meeting fire rating
requirements equivalent to wood pallets.
ORBIS recently launched its own fire-retardant plastic material, Proliant, which
also is compliant with the FDA.
• Metal detectable: Available in select
pallets, metal-detectable additives are
blended into the plastic, allowing foreign
objects to be detected before making their
way into finished goods. This is a feature
wood pallets cannot offer.
• X-ray detectable: Similar to metal-detectable additives, products with X-ray
detectable material use barium sulfate as
a means of detection.
• Electrostatic discharge-safe: ESD,
conductive and antistatic additives provide
varying levels of static protection, especially
in electronics/chemical applications.
Q. How do these materials improve
handling along the supply chain?
A. Plastic pallets manufactured
with risk-reducing material additives
improve handling in many ways, such
as allowing more streamlined and cost-effective safety inspections. They also
allow plants to use hygienic plastic pallets
throughout their entire internal processing
facility. This ensures all operations are
secured with food safety precautions.
For example, with metal-detectable
materials, loads are off-loaded to outbound
shipping pallets and sent through metal
detectors for inspection. Unlike wood or
undetectable plastic, which could not be
used during inspection, detectable plastic
pallets provide peace of mind that goods