LIP SERVICE: Does size really matter?

Today, 95% of plastic pallets come with lips, particularly on medium and heavy duty pallets that carry heavy loads.
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The benefit of having lips moulded into the pallet is that they enable multiple pallets to ‘locate’ when stacked together and when empty, the lips interlock keeping the pallets in a neat, vertical stack.

Moreover, the lips provide added security to heavy loads placed on the pallet’s deck. For these reasons, lips are recommended when purchasing plastic pallets.

As plastic pallets are now a fundamental part of today’s supply chain across all business sectors, there are a number of options to suit different application needs, including pallets with various sized lips and even with no lips at all.

The majority of plastic pallets come with 6mm lips as standard, although in many cases these are optional. Changes to the size of the lips are made during the manufacturing process by adding or removing inserts into the mould, so a production run of pallets with or without lips can be made.

Plastic pallet expert and Managing Director of Goplasticpallets.com, Jim Hardisty, explains the benefits that these variations offer and how to make choosing the right pallet for your needs, much easier.

PALLETS WITH LIPS BEST FOR: STORAGE, FOOD TRANSPORT AND CLOSED LOOP SUPPLY CHAINS

There are a range of benefits to having lips on a plastic pallet, one of which is safe handling when loading and transporting the pallets around the warehouse. If the forklift driver is moving a stack of empty pallets, the lips will ensure each one locates and can be transported smoothly. In addition, plastic trays, crates or even cardboard boxes can be stacked safely on the pallet and up against the lip.

Although in most instances the product in question will likely be wrapped to the pallet, the lips offer additional security, ensuring the product remains within the pallet footprint. A pallet with the standard lip can be used in a multitude of industries, but is highly popular within the food sector because produce packed into plastic trays can be moved through the supply chain faster when sat on a pallet that has a lip.

However, there are some models and types of plastic pallets that do not always offer these options, such as some lightweight nestable pallets, which either do or don’t have lips. These nestable pallets do not require lips to locate and stack as they are designed to nest one inside another when empty – equally being designed for lightweight consignments, product retention is not generally an issue.

SPECIALIST OPTIONS – 22MM/25MM LIPS BEST FOR: THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

Alternatively, there are other, less common options to suit specific applications and industry needs. For instance, the 22mm or 25mm lip. These high lips are popular within the automotive sector, where the pallet is used for the movement and storage of parts in plastic totes or plastic boxes.

For example, if a company is shipping a pallet of product into a motor manufacturer, the parts would be packed into plastic boxes on a pallet with a high lip and secured with a lid. The high lip offers additional safety because the pallet is being moved without additional wrapping. This is the same for the empty boxes on the return journey.

In fact, the empty boxes are normally stacked upside down to ensure both pallets and boxes stay clean and to stop them filling up with water (this is usually when a lid isn’t used in the first place). It also makes it easy to identify which boxes are ready to be reused.
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PALLETS WITHOUT LIPS BEST FOR: SHEET MATERIALS HANDLING & AUTOMATION

In contrast, there are also applications where pallets without lips are preferred, notably when a completely flat surface is needed. For example, any application where the product may overhang the footprint of the pallet would benefit from a pallet without lips, because in this type of situation the lips could leave imprints in the products.

In this scenario, manufacturers of flat cardboard sheets would use a pallet without lips because the size of the sheet may sometimes overhang.

Furthermore, machines may also be used within the warehouse to push the sheets on or off of the pallet, so when purchasing this type of returnable packaging, the type of automation or systems used to load the pallets should be a further consideration.

We have previously sold 1000’s of pallets to a whisky distillery for storage of their finished product (packed into cases). Because the warehouse is fully automated, a whole pallet load of cases is slid on and off of the pallet at a transfer station, so here the lips would get in the way.

Ultimately, the type of application is key. This will dictate what type of pallet and what size lips, if any, are best suited for the job.

Whatever your needs are, talk to our experts to find out what the best solution is for you. For helpful advice finding the right returnable plastic packaging for your supply chain, contact our award winning and experienced sales team on 01323 744057.

With over 155 different types of pallets available in stock, we’re sure to have the right solution for you.

GOPLASTICPALLETS.COM

Tel: 01323 744057

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