There are wood pallets. There are plastic pallets. But a new Iowa-based company, Green Line Armor LLC, has the best of both: wood pallets with protective bumpers made of compression molded polypropylene.
The black bumpers are on each end of the pallet. They replace the lead board on a typical wood pallet, an area that often gets damaged from forklifts and limits their useful life.
Lead board damage is the Achilles heel of pallets, said Green Line Armor President and CEO Eric Renteria.
The West Burlington, Iowa-based company displayed its Hybrid Sustained Pallet at the NA2010 materials-handling show, held April 26-29 in Cleveland. The company has 31 distribution facilities across the United States.
Composite Products Inc. of Winona, Minn., makes the key plastic bumper component, using its long-fiber thermoplastic compression molding technology, Renteria said.
CPI does in-line compounding of the recycled PP, blended with the glass fibers, and then compression molds the bumper. Green Line Armor assembles the pallets at its plant in Quincy, Ill. A robot screws the boards together; company literature says self-tapping screws are a big improvement over the nails used in traditional wood pallets.
The company emphasizes the green in Green Line. According to Renteria, in addition to recycled PP, each bumper contains a biomaterial in the form of distiller grain that is a waste product from the ethanol production process. The grain is dried and blended into the plastic material and the glass fibers.
The process has been dialed-in very carefully, Renteria said.
Coming from Iowa, in the ethanol corn belt, Green Line Armor has easy access to bioblend distiller grain. Our goal is strictly to help the environment by reducing landfill waste, so by pulling in pound after pound after pound of waste product and blending it in, and bringing it back to life, we help the environment, Renteria said.
Green Line Armor started last fall. The inventor, Bob Kessler, is a 20-year veteran in the pallet business who runs a pallet rebuilding and recycling mill in Illinois. He is vice president at Green Line Armor.
The chairman, Nick Lansing, has managed pallet operations for community centers in Quincy.
The hybrid pallets are designed to have a long life. Green Line Armor gives a 10-year limited warranty.
Each pallet has two bumpers one on each end that contain molded in radio-frequency identification tags. The RFID tag matches a serial number printed on the pallet.
We know what date it was born on. We know when we sold it to you and when you received it, Renteria said. We can tell you the lot numbers from the wood that was used to manufacture it, and the lot from the plastic bumpers. We have that level of accountability and traceability in our product.
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