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Hygienic pallets form a key part of our product portfolio at goplasticpallets.com. For many years, we have supplied some of the biggest names across multiple sectors with a range of hygienic pallets to perfectly fit their applications and work seamlessly within their supply chains. In this blog, Steve Penney, our UK Key Account Sales Manager, gives us the lowdown on these high-quality pallets.
Thanks for your time, Steve. For those unfamiliar, could you explain what sets hygienic pallets apart from regular pallets?
Certainly! Hygienic pallets are uniquely tailored to meet stringent hygiene regulations, especially in industries like pharmaceuticals, food manufacturing and chemicals. What truly sets them apart is their design. They have completely smooth and closed surfaces, ensuring there’s minimal opportunity for bacteria to hide and grow. This design feature makes them particularly ideal for environments that demand high standards of cleanliness, such as clean rooms or food processing and packing lines.
The majority of the hygienic pallets we sell are fully “closed” and made from virgin plastic rather than recycled plastic. Fully “closed” means that all the rib structures of the pallet, the plastic shapes that help to give the pallet its strength and rigidity, are encapsulated on the inside of the pallet. In production areas where pallets could come into direct contact with food, a food safety standard, such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC), may specify the use of a virgin grade plastic to ensure source traceability of the material and conformity to the accreditation of that specific process.
So, in these particular industries you mention, do they exclusively use hygienic pallets?
Not always. Recycled plastic pallets may be used at some point within their supply chains, but when a product comes into direct contact with a pallet – most commonly during the processing/manufacturing phase – it will almost always be a hygienic virgin grade plastic pallet. For example, a food manufacturer will use hygienic pallets on their production lines, but once the foodstuff is finished and has been placed in consumer-ready packaging, for distribution, it might be stored on a recycled material plastic pallet.
Wooden pallets aren’t typically allowed within these “high care” production areas. As wood is porous it can easily become cross contaminated. In addition, wooden pallets don’t work as well on automated systems, they aren’t as strong and consistent in size and structure. They can also give up splinters and they also are held together by nails.
The use of a closed deck hygienic plastic pallet eliminates these issues. It is a piece of equipment that a GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) can be written around. This ensures the quality and traceability of the manufacturing processes, maintenance and quality checks in a business.
How long would a hygienic pallet last?
These products are made by the injection moulding process and are therefore incredibly strong and consistent. However, it’s hard to give a definitive answer, as there are so many variables that can contribute to the overall lifespan of a pallet: How are they used? How often? What materials handling equipment does a company use? Where are they kept? Are they cleaned regularly and by what method? Are they used in automated systems or handled manually? However, typically, I would expect a hygienic pallet to last at least 5-10 years.
You mentioned cleaning. How are hygienic pallets normally washed?
Closed deck plastic pallets can be cleaned either manually or by using an automated pallet wash machine, to clean to a very high standard in the food or pharmaceutical production sectors. These pallets have very smooth surfaces, which ensures that bacteria cannot build-up during use, and they can be washed, and, equally importantly, be dried consistently.
Modern pallet wash machines can use low temperature wash cycles with high specification detergents to clean the pallets to a consistent standard. A final rinse cycle at 85 degrees is normal, enabling the residual heat to effectively dry the pallets, ready for re-use.
ATP (adenosine triphosphate) “swab testing” regimes can be implemented to verify cleanliness and recorded as part of a conformity standard process within BRC accreditation to ensure safe use and best practice.
More manufacturers are now utilising technology within their warehouses and facilities to make efficiency gains. Is a pallet just a pallet, or do they offer anything else for those tech-savvy logistics professionals?
They absolutely do! Modern hygienic pallets can be equipped with tracking technology, allowing for real-time location and temperature monitoring. This is especially beneficial in industries where precise tracking is crucial, such as pharmaceuticals. Additionally, their consistent design and dimensions make them ideal for automated systems, ensuring efficient operations.
Can you talk us through the hygienic pallets you keep in stock?
They produce plastic pallets in their factories in accordance with ISO 9001 standards, giving users of this high specification pallet complete peace of mind and traceability of the material that the pallet is made from and the manufacturing parameters in the production cycle.
We have a variety of sizes and different features to fit any application. Here’s a brief overview of these excellent products:
- Cabka Hygienic 1208 3R: This is a smooth, non-perimeter, recycled hygienic plastic pallet with dimensions of 1200mm x 800mm. It features three runners.
- Cabka Hygienic 1208 9F: A Euro-size hygienic plastic pallet on nine feet, also measuring 1200mm x 800mm
- Cabka Hygienic 1210 3R: A UK size (1200mm x 1000mm) hygienic plastic pallet. Three runners
- Cabka Hygienic 1210 5R: This is a 1200mm x 1000mm pallet, but this time with five runners
All of these closed deck pallets are available in a variety of colours. Different coloured pallets can be used to segregate different types of products. For instance, a company might use blue pallets for raw materials and red pallets for finished products. This helps in reducing the risk of cross-contamination and ensures a smooth workflow. Other reasons for choosing different colours could be for aesthetic reasons or for branding/marketing purposes.
With the emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility, how do hygienic pallets fit into this narrative?
That’s a crucial point. While hygienic pallets are made from virgin plastic to meet specific industry standards, it’s essential to note that they are 100% recyclable. At the end of their long service life, these pallets can be transformed into brand new plastic pallets, promoting a circular and sustainable economy.
Finally, for businesses looking for hygienic pallets, what would be your top advice?
Firstly, take the time to understand your specific needs. While hygienic pallets offer numerous advantages, it’s essential to determine where they fit best within your operations. Engage with experts, like our team at goplasticpallets.com, who will be able to ask the right questions to build a full picture of what products will work best for you. It’s not just about choosing a pallet; it’s about enhancing efficiency, safety, and sustainability across your supply chain.
Sound advice. Thanks Steve.