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CPULD News, Spring 2021

Image 1. Mary building a unit load of pails.

Image 1. Mary building a unit load of pails.

FEATURE

The effect of plastic pails on pallet deflection and pressure distribution for stringer class wooden pallets

- Research project by Mary Paz Alvarez

Modern-day supply chains have a great reliance on wooden pallets. Around 513 million new wooden pallets are produced annually, which are used by 94% of companies in supply chains. Most new wooden pallets are built for specific applications. The current supply chain is made up of three interacting components: products, pallets, and material handling systems. By understanding the interactions between these components, the design of each component can be optimized, and the cost and sustainability of the overall system can be improved. Graduate student Mary Paz Alvarez has been studying the interaction effects of drums and pails on pallets’ strength and deflection levels since 2019. Her research is funded by the Pallet Foundation and the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

Nicolas Navarro

Nicolas Navarro

Nicolas “Nico” Navarro, who is from Costa Rica, says he was attracted to Virginia Tech’s high-quality programs and its learning environment. “My research in graduate school focused on exploring the concept of Internet-of-Things (IoT) implementation in pallets.” He graduated in August 2020 with two master’s degrees: industrial and systems engineering with a focus in management, and sustainable biomaterials with a focus in packaging. While he earned his degrees, Nico collaborated closely with engineers and executives in the packaging and manufacturing industry to develop case studies and identify business needs relating to supply chains, distribution processes, and packaging design.

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

Image 1. Saewhans research

Image 1. Saewhans research

Characterizing the environmental impacts of common e-commerce packaging options for sustainability-minded stakeholders

Electronic commerce (e-commerce), defined as an application of electronic means and technologies to conduct commerce, is a method of retailing that is currently drawing huge attention. Since the internet has become ubiquitous, e-commerce continues to grow and expand its influence at a remarkable pace. In the U.S., e-commerce sales have been growing at a rate of 28% annually for over 20 years. This is significantly different from traditional retail sales, which only grew 3% per year.

LCA on chandlers work

LCA on chandlers work

Environmental benefits of increasing the stiffness of the pallet top deck for unit loads carrying corrugated boxes

This research project expanded on former graduate student Chandler Quesenberry’s research into the financial benefits of increasing the stiffness of pallet top deck boards for unit loads of corrugated boxes. The objective of this subsequent study was to quantify the environmental benefits of increasing the stiffness of pallet top deckboards for unit loads of corrugated boxes.

Image 1. A) Drop testing reusable packaging, and B) vibration testing of reusable packaging.

Image 1 Various business supply chain models

Reusable apparel packaging in e-commerce: Tests and suggestions for a European clothing retailer

Today, many companies are trying to make their products and packaging systems more economical and environmentally friendly in response to a rapidly changing industry. There is currently a major market trend of using more sustainable and green packaging for commercial products. Reusable packaging can be described in many ways, each fitting different functions or end-of-life purposes. Packages can be reused by a consumer to find a new life for the package or can be taken to recycling and reusing centers.

Image 1. Rosa Williams conducting compression testing of a plastic pail on the Lansmont Squeezer.

Image 1. Rosa Williams conducting compression testing of a plastic pail on the Lansmont Squeezer.

Evaluating the effect of deckboard gaps and overhang on the compression strength of plastic pails

The objective of this undergraduate research project, conducted during the fall 2020 semester, was to measure and analyze the effect of varying sizes of pallet deckboard gaps and pallet overhang gaps on the compression strength of three different sizes of plastic pails, assuming completely rigid deckboards. The project was sponsored by the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association through their industrial affiliate membership.

Image 1. Parcel movement during comparative study of hazards experienced.

Image 1. Parcel movement during comparative study of hazards experienced.

A comparative study of the hazards that packages experience in the FedEx and UPS shipping systems

The coronavirus pandemic has intensely transformed the imminent progress of e-commerce. It reshaped consumer behavior as social distancing, quarantining, store closures, and lockdown regimes pushed consumers to shop online and vendors to sell online. Thus, e-commerce has grown rapidly as consumers demanded convenience, security, and multiple delivery options. Goods are handled and shipped as part of a complex network of distribution supply chains. 

CPULD's custom jig to test grab handling on pallets

CPULD's custom jig to test grab handling on pallets

Evaluation of the horizontal compression forces that pallets experience during grab handling

Wooden pallets are commonly designed either by computer softwares, such as the Pallet Design System (PDS) or specifically to pass ISO standards. But, neither of these design methods take into account the horizontal compression forces that a pallet will encounter during grab handling. Grab handling is a common method of moving palletized unit loads around construction sites, or other commercial locations, especially in the UK. 

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Image 1. Rosa Williams outside the Brooks Center.

Image 1. Rosa Williams outside the Brooks Center.

Rosa Williams is a freshman in the packaging systems and design major and has quickly made herself a valued team member here at CPULD. She is from Marietta, Georgia, and expects to graduate in 2024. Rosa says she decided to attend Virginia Tech “because our packaging program has a major focus on sustainability, which really sets us apart from other universities. In my senior year [of high school], when I toured the Brooks Lab with Professor Horvath, I knew I had to attend Tech. I love the packaging program here at VT and I am so proud to be a part of it.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

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CPULD Calendar

Contact Our Team:

Quotes for new testing projects, distribution packaging projects, unit load design projects, membership with the center, new research projects.

Ongoing testing operations, lab management, scheduling unit load and pallet lab deliveries, questions about lab management and work schedules.

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Primary packaging design and packaging materials testing, scheduling deliveries of primary packaging materials, new research into primary packaging.

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Corrugated materials design & testing questions, scheduling deliveries of corrugated materials. IKEA testing scheduling & questions

Eduardo Molina

Eduardo Molina

Any immediate needs, delivery times, locations, and info, invoicing questions, accounts receivable/ accounts payable inquiries. 

Angie Riegel

Angie Riegel

Scheduling meetings with Dr. Horvath, short course & webinar info, center event plans, website & social media questions, marketing.

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