White Paper Publication:

White Papers are CPULD’s way of offering new knowledge to the public. Many of CPULD’s research projects are conducted for private clients with the exact results remaining proprietary to those clients. However, CPULD’s White Papers offer overall summaries of our recent research (or about older research whose confidentiality time has expired) written for pallet and packaging professionals, about different topics that our industry members should find informative and useful.

Over the years, CPULD has published White Papers on topics such as Technology Use in Reusable Packaging, Phytosanitary Regulations for Packaging, How to Prevent Moisture in Sea Containers, and Properties of Shredded Wooden Pallets. In 2019, CPULD released a new White Paper on Circular Economies and the Pallet Industry. This topic was particularly well-received as the pallet industry is shifting towards a more sustainable future. The circular economy is the concept of designing products, not only for their intended use but also with an eye on the end-of-life scenario for that product, i.e. reuse or recyclability.

In 2020, two White Papers are already scheduled to be published. The first one to be on the lookout for is about How to Determine the Load Capacity of a Pallet. This White Paper will shed some light on the pallet tests required by ASTM and ISO standards, and how the stiffness and strength of the pallet affect its load capacity.

The second 2020 White Paper will focus on How Fasteners Affect Pallet Durability. The paper will explain how a model was built to estimate the economic life of a pallet and how common nail characteristics, such as thread diameter, thread angle, and wire diameter, affect pallet life. For example, using an 11.5-gauge bulk nail instead of a 12.5-gauge collated nail can improve pallet durability by 85.6% and double the life of the pallet!

 Keep on the lookout for new White Papers being posted soon!


Pictures from White Papers published in the past, or to-be-published by CPULD in 2020.



New Website Coming this Summer:

CPULD is revamping our website! Coming summer 2020, unitload.vt.edu will change its look completely. We are more closely aligning our look to the recently updated Virginia Tech website and branding.

Our web presence is one of the main ways we connect with students and industry, and the new website will be geared towards those two audiences. The new website will provide more information to prospective students for them to learn about the benefits of attending VT, research opportunities currently available, step-by-step graduate school application process, as well as the history of our center and the research that students before them have been a part of.

For industry members, the new website will have more information on our current undergraduate and graduate research projects, how to sponsor graduate and undergraduate projects, and we will share essential information about pallets and packages using our new FAW and White Paper pages.

We are also giving more visibility to our graduate students. Our M.S. and Ph.D. students are working hard on state-of-the-art research projects that aim to solve existing industrial problems and/or make packaging and pallet designs more efficient and sustainable. The new website will highlight the goals of these research projects for each student, share information about the qualifications of the students, and provide an opportunity to follow each research project on social media.


Screenshots of the new CPULD website which will be going live in summer 2020.



SLICK Will Soon Require New Login Procedures:

This is a note to the Industrial Affiliate Membership of CPULD: Our Searchable Library of Information and Center Knowledge (SLICK) will soon be updated along with the rest of our website. Part of this update will include changing the login procedures over to a more secure system.

Last fall (around August 20, 2019) each of you were emailed new usernames and temporary passwords and were instructed to reset the passwords to ones of your choosing within 24 hours. If you completed this, then you are set! When the CPULD website switches to its new look, all you have to do is log in via those new credentials and you’ll be able to access SLICK as usual.

However, if you did not reset your password last August, then please pay attention to your emails from CPULD over the next few weeks. You will first be receiving an email letting you know which day we are resetting your account with a new temporary password. We plan to have the IT department here at Virginia Tech reset these accounts/passwords by the end of May. As soon as they are reset, you will again be emailed – this time with instructions about how to proceed. These instructions MUST be completed within 24 hours of the reset.

If you miss this 24-hour window, you will have to contact the Virginia Tech IT department yourself and the process will take more time. All of this will be explained in detail in the upcoming announcement emails.


Screenshot of new SLICK login screen.



Student Interview Videos

One of CPULD’s latest projects is to begin recording and producing videos about our students. We will be interviewing both graduate students and undergraduate students as part of our efforts to be a valued connection between our industry partners and their future employees.

These interviews consist of questions about the student’s personal and educational goals as well as their future career hopes and questions about their current research projects – the processes and results. Our hope is that your interest in their work and skills will be piqued by these interviews and you’ll remember our students when job openings occur in your company.

We started this series by interviewing graduate student Mary Paz Alvarez. In her interview, she states she chose to come to VT because of our excellent reputation in her field of interest, and she explains her current research project, sponsored by NWPCA’s Pallet Foundation, which is focused on the interactions between drums and pallets: