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Best Pallet and Best Load Software Takes Packaging Design in a Whole New Direction
Provides examples of how businesses are using this fairly new pallet and unit load software to optimize design for performance and cost. Also covers what users can expect in the future from this program
By Lisa Monroe
Date Posted: 11/1/2014
Best Pallet and Unit Load Software
Provides examples of how businesses are using this fairly new software to optimize design for performance and cost. Also covers what users can expect in the future from this program.
What if a software product could help reduce distribution packaging costs by 8-18% while optimizing unit load designs and creating new supply chain efficiencies? Sound too good to be true? Well, this is exactly what White & Company’s software is designed to do.
Best Load™ software was recently introduced to the market in May and has been grabbing the attention of companies looking to differentiate themselves in the materials handling industry. Best Pallet™ has been available to the industry for two years for pallet design and analysis. Versions 2.1 of both software packages debuted in October, including the ability to design and analyze block pallets and enhanced stringer pallet user interfaces.
According to White & Company, Best Load is the only tool available to model the mechanical interactions (compression strength and stress) between packaging, pallets, and storage/handling equipment, with geometric fit capabilities of packaging to pallets and unit loads to any shipping mode. We’ve talked to businesses that use these programs about what they like best and how the software is making a difference for their businesses.
Best Pallet Helps Customers Understand Pallets at Virginia Business
Daven Lucy, owner of Virginia Pallets in Lawrenceville, Virginia, uses Best Pallet to help his customers better understand what they need. He’s been using the software at his business, which manufactures new and used wooden pallets, ever since it became available more than two years ago. About 40% of his business is making new pallets.
“On any of the pallets we potentially build, we run it through the software,” he said. “It suits our needs fine.”
By running Best Pallet as a common practice, he gets a printout and quote to visually show to his customers which helps them to grasp the type of pallet they need to have. “When they see it on paper, it just means more to them,” he said. “We go over the analysis with the customer to share their options with them.”
He finds the software to be very user-friendly, and it was easy to learn when he started his business in 2011. He had worked for another pallet company that used a different software, but the sales team there ran the software, not himself.
Sometimes the customer may not have any specs to work from, so Lucy enters data into Best Pallet such as the load, pallet material and other variables. Then the system will generate a pallet design.
Sometimes the system comes up with an option that varies from what a customer requests, he said. For example, a customer may ask for an 11/16" deck board, but the system may show that a 9/16" board is sufficient for the customer’s needs.
“With the program, we can sometimes save them money,” said Lucy, because it eliminates over-packaging.
Best Load Comes Through for Large Pallet Company
Wibke Duvall, unit load design specialist with Pallet One, the largest manufacturer of new pallets in the United States, uses Best Load on a regular basis to support the company’s national sales team. She works out of the company’s headquarters in Bartow, Florida.
While the salespeople she works with use both Best Pallet and PDS software to design pallets for customers, she primarily uses Best Load for three key functions. These are: identifying the cause of product damage, developing new pallet and/or packaging solutions for customers, and optimizing existing products.
When a customer complains about product damage, it’s Duvall’s job to find out what went wrong. That’s where the software becomes highly useful. “Best Load allows us to measure the interaction between the packaging and the pallet,” she said. “It’s very good when we’re dealing with package damage.”
For example, when a large paper manufacturer complained of damage to the exterior boxes that carried their paper, Duvall used Best Load to analyze the way the pallet, load and packaging interacted, and came up with a solution. The problem in this case was with the bottom deck board configuration. By simply adding boards to the bottom of the pallet, the stress on the boxes was more evenly distributed, and decreased damage to the boxes.
The graphs, numbers and specifics generated by Best Load are really helpful when trying to convince customers to change their pallet or even their packaging, and provides data to back recommendations she may make based on experience and industry knowledge, said Duvall. “Common sense gets you so far, but I’m going to be much more convincing with customers when I can put numbers in front of them.”
Besides troubleshooting product damage, a second area Duvall uses Best Load is when she’s working with the sales team to develop completely new packaging systems for customers. Often there’s a committee or team approach where different stakeholders ranging from the customer to the corrugated manufacturer work together.
Best Load is central to this kind of teamwork because it can give readouts based on various packaging, pallet and product data so that the committee can narrow down their options. “Before Best Load, there were a lot of things we needed to field test,” said Duvall, explaining that the software now allows them to select one or two best options to test, whereas before it may have been as many as three or four. Basically, the software really helps to narrow the viable options.
The third way she uses Best Load is for optimizing existing packaging. For example, if a customer calls to say they need to cut down on costs, she can analyze the existing pallet, packaging and load to come up with a solution. Sometimes the answer may be to reduce the pallet strength, but sometimes it could actually be to increase pallet strength and reduce packaging, or some other variable. This is because the biggest cost on a unit load is typically not the pallet but the packaging, such as corrugate boxes, pails, plastic containers, etc.
Manufacturers spend millions of dollars annually to package and distribute products. Research by White & Company suggests that shippers could save on average 10-20% on packaging costs if they knew where to make the changes. The big culprit is the approach used by most companies to design components in their unit loads.
Current supply chains operate with significant avoidable cost because they have been designed one component at a time. There are three main components – the packaging, pallet, and unit load handling equipment. Each component is usually designed by the vendor supplier. The suppliers of the packaging, pallet, and handling equipment are focused on reducing the cost of their product without any interaction with the other designers. This is a “component” approach to the design of a “system” that leads to inefficient supply chains.
A true systems-based approach is required to significantly reduce supply chain operating costs. And the Best Load software is designed to make this analysis easy for pallet companies and users.
What to Expect Next? – Best Pallet and Best Load
According to Braden White, director of technical services for White & Company and son of Mark White, creator of Best Pallet, future updates to both Best Pallet and Best Load will be more focused on their specific uses and more dependent of each other.
Updates for Best Load will focus more on packaging, with Best Load Pro to be the next version coming down the pipeline. It will enable the user to focus more on primary packaging design, within the secondary or distributing packaging.
Mark White explained, “This tool will include CAD capability for optimizing display ready packaging on display ready end of aisle pallets, as well as interior packs, bottles, cans, tubes, folding cartons, etc.”
Future updates to Best Pallet, on the other hand, are expected to have more emphasis on the durability and life cycle of wooden pallets.
“Both tools will continuously be enhanced and updated,” said White. “You can never let software become stagnant.”