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Pallet Design System Keeps Getting Better
Pallet Design System: Enhancements to PDS™ make this software tool even more valuable by allowing pallet companies to share information on unit loads with customers.
By Lisa Monroe
Date Posted: 11/1/2014
Pallet Design System
Enhancements to PDS?make this software tool even more valuable by allowing pallet companies to share information on unit loads with customers.
One of the best ways to deliver the right solution to pallet customers is to design the best pallet. The program that pallet companies have turned to for years keeps getting better. When it comes to pallet design, the Pallet Design System™ (PDS) was the first software program offered on the market and has become widely respected as the industry standard.
PDS is owned and developed by the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) with proceeds benefitting its members. The latest PDS version 5.1 launched earlier this summer, along with a new integrated program called LoadSync that allows pallet companies to share information on unit loads with their customers.
LoadSync works in conjunction with PDS to let end users analyze their pallet and unit load handling requirements, then save these requirements to a data file, which they can email to their pallet manufacturer.
PDS Helps Pennsylvania Pallet Business Solve Customer Challenges
Steve Yelland, president of J.F. Rohrbaugh of Hanover, Pennsylvania, a fifth-generation pallet manufacturer, said the business has been using PDS for a very long time, pretty much since it first became available in 1984. He recalls it being on a “desktop computer with floppy disks” back in the 90s.
The program is used by himself and by salesman Ryan Brown as a sales tool for current and potential customers, as well as on the plant floor. “It gives us a competitive edge against those that don’t have it,” explained Yelland. “We can plug in different materials to see if we can economically produce a pallet for our customers.”
For example, if there’s a shortage of hardwood, but the company can get green pine, they can analyze the load, stacking and racking systems to see if the alternate material will work for the customer’s needs.
“There are a lot of variables that go into a pallet. PDS does a pretty good job of evaluating those,” said Yelland.
With PDS, he explained that he can plug in other variables such as material grade, whether the material is green or kiln-dried, design elements like wing or non-wing, pallet type including stringer or block, and even the type of fasteners used to construct the pallet.
“When we’re getting close to closing a sale, we will run analysis or schematics of the pallets on PDS and then print that and get sign-off from the customer,” he said. “Typically once we have that, we’ll integrate it into our PalMate system. That enables us to integrate PDS into our production process.”
The new 5.1 version allows his business to move beyond the actual pallet design and look at how it interacts with the unit load, he said. For example, he was working with a concrete company that had a problem with their pallets failing. “We hadn’t changed anything, but learned they had changed their bags.”
PDS revealed that the change in packaging put more weight on the deck boards, rather than the stringer, said Yelland. Using the software, he was able to show the customer how the bags affected the pallet strength, and come up with a solution.
LoadSync Makes Sharing Information with Customer Easy for New York Company
Clint Binley, president of Pallets Inc., said his business was the first licensed company to receive the PDS software. “It’s grown a lot and developed with the members and our customers. It’s an exceptional tool,” he commented.
A mid-sized to large pallet manufacturer in upstate New York, Binley said his customers include paper, plastic, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and medical device companies
Binley uses PDS on a daily basis as “an interface between sales, manufacturing and our customers…so all parties are on same page on how the product will be manufactured and how it will perform.” Others who use the program include the plant floor manager, two lead production personnel, for work orders, and sales for design and communication with the customer.
“It’s extremely easy to use. It can be as sophisticated as you need it to be…drilling down to the unit load and to the environment the pallet is used in,” Binley explained.
LoadSync allows his team to input the various requirements from the customer, as well as many variables, and allows for more in-depth information to be easily shared with the customer. “It gives another avenue for our customers to understand the complexity of designing a pallet for specific needs and applications,” he said.
It also helps his company to save his customers money by eliminating excess packaging or unnecessary pallet strength.
The software also incorporates safety measures into its designs. “Whether their unit load is boxed or bagged or put in drums, whether it’s stacked two, three or four high, there are safety factors that are built in with the data,” said Binley.
PDS Continuous Improvement and Commitment to the Future
“Comprehensive unit load design is an integral part of pallet design,” said Brent McClendon, president of the NWPCA, which owns PDS and LoadSync. “NWPCA is currently performing cutting-edge research and development in this area with the intention of providing the PDS user with the important tools necessary to meet the ever-increasing needs of their pallet users.”
“We expect to have four engineers working in this industry very soon to assure PDS development continues to create opportunities for the industry,” he continued.
PDS is still “the only software that meets all the performance measures specified in the industry consensus Uniform Standard for Wood Pallets, and the only one that includes the critical role that fastener specifications play in pallet strength, stiffness and damage resistance,” said McClendon.
In addition to LoadSync, the NWPCA recently released FastenerSync to enhance and expedite communication between fastener providers and pallet manufacturers, he explained.