BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Bruno's here is considering a switch from wooden crates to plastic pallets within the next month, pending results of a pilot test being conducted in the retailer's grocery and perishables warehouse.
"We've been testing plastic pallets mainly to cut down on the expense of buying wood ones and doing pallet repair," said George Williams, vice president, distribution at Bruno's. "You're not going to have the repair cost with a plastic pallet because it lasts longer than a wood pallet. As a result, you get a lot more trips out of plastic."
Another advantage of plastic pallets is their lighter weight, typically 20 pounds versus a 50-pound wood pallet. Thus, plastic pallets are easier for warehouse and store employees to lift, reducing the potential for injury.
"I've used them in the past and you end up with a lot less potential injuries of your warehouse workers and people at the store," Williams said. "There are no splinters, broken boards or nails for them to get injured or cut."
The potential for floor damage is reduced with a plastic pallet because "a wood pallet has nails in it and it can gouge floors, whereas a plastic pallet doesn't have any of those opportunities," he added.
During the pilot, which began in February, Bruno's is encouraging both store and warehouse employees to understand that "they can stack heavy product on something that light," said Williams.
Another area Bruno's is exploring is the creation of a control mechanism so that after the plastic pallets are used at the store, the retailer is able to get them back.