CPULD News, Spring/Summer 2022
The effect of forklift type, pallet design, entry speed, and top load on the horizontal shock impacts exerted during the interactions between pallet and forklift
Shock impact damage is a distribution hazard that affects all pallets and unit loads, resulting in significant damages. Testing sequences have been developed to assess the resistance of pallets and unit loads to shock impact damage, and this information has been used to improve pallet design. As forklifts are widely used in the industry, common factors in these testing sequences are the simulations of forklift damage through incline impacts and free-fall drops.
The objective of this research was to investigate the effects of forklift type (Image 1), pallet design, entry speed, and top load on the horizontal shock responses. Two pallet designs were investigated during this study including a wooden and a plastic pallet design. Because the friction between the pallet and the floor could influence results, the static coefficient of friction (COF) between the bottom of the pallet and the concrete floor was measured for both pallet designs.
Jayne Little came to Blacksburg from South Riding, VA. She graduated in May 2018 with a B.S. in Packaging Systems & Design and minors in both Psych & Communication. Jayne told us that “I came into VT undecided, and soon switched to major in Psychology. However, I wasn’t feeling challenged enough by the major and it didn’t have the hands-on experience that I was looking for in college. I’ve always wanted to do something in design, so I started to dig into packaging. The career opportunities and pathway to a career drew me in. It was very apparent to me that packaging is vital in almost every industry."
There are 2.6 billion pallets in circulation in the United States out of which wood pallets constitute 95% of the market. However, the pallet industry in the U.S changes continually: companies consolidate, new and sometimes quite different players enter the market, and alliances or partnerships are formed. To ensure the continued leading position of the wood pallet manufacturing segment in the U.S., it is essential to have up-to-date information regarding the current status of the industry encompassing new wood pallet manufacturing and the recycling of used wood pallets...
Dr. Laszlo Horvath and Dr. Eduardo Molina has received new funding from the Fibre Box Association (FBA) and the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation (ICPF) for a research project focused on the investigation the effect of pallet overhang on box compression strength. The research will involve the testing of more than 1,900 corrugated boxes to evaluate the effect of different levels of overhang on the strength of corrugated boxes. The investigated overhang values will range from 0.25 in. till 3in. and also evaluate multiple box locations on the pallet...
Our director, Dr. Laszlo Horvath, has received a new research grant from The Pallet Foundation to investigate to predict the rotational stiffness of pallet joints made using alternative fasteners including lag screws and carriage bolts. This project will investigate and validate the applicability of the findings of previous researchers, Loferski and Gamalath, who designed a model to predict the rotational stiffness of pallet joints based on the traditionally used fasteners such as pallet nails...
GRAD STUDENT SPOTLIGHT
Joseph Keller came to Virginia Tech from Charlottesville, VA where he lived with his family and three sisters. He was a competitive swimmer and has run half-marathons. Joe came to the SBIO department in 2017 for a Packaging Systems and Design degree. In the spring of 2021, as he was almost done, he was convinced to pursue a graduate degree after speaking with Dr. Laszlo Horvath about the Masters research topics that were currently available to him. Joe told us that “after talking with Dr. Horvath and the other graduate students, I decided to join the program and not looked back since!”
The movement of products has created a single world market connecting developing countries to first world nations. One of the problems that has arisen is making sure products arrive undamaged. When transporting products, they are commonly bundled together and placed on a pallet, which is called a unit load; unit load stability is crucial for the safe transit of goods. To this end, 65% of unit loads are commonly wrapped with stretch film. The stretch film itself provides the unit load with containment force, which is the technical term for how much force is required to maintain stability.
The packaging industry has recently started to take steps to address concerns about the environment regarding waste and pollution because packaging is estimated to make up 50% of the total plastic waste globally. Packaging companies are trying to create eco-friendly packaging, which includes edible, bio-based, and biodegradable materials obtained from renewable resources. In particular, the packaging world has taken an active interest in sustainable stretch films. This research showcases a series of tests that focused on the uses, limits, and effects of an alternative type of sustainable stretch wrap...
A large manufacturer based in Asia decided to sponsor an undergraduate research project to investigate the packaging systems for their window AC units as compared to many of their competitor’s packaging versions. Many international companies suffered from the increased supply chain costs and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were forced to deal with the repercussions of the escalating US-China trade conflict; however, this project’s sponsor actually saw an increase in export sales due to the increased demand for sterilization features in home appliances such as air conditioners, humidifiers and washing machines which were already built-in features in their brand.
A partner company of CPULD recently sponsored a project for the undergraduate students in the Packaging Systems and Design major. The project was to investigate multiple major meal kit companies to assess their packaging in terms of effectiveness and sustainability. Two undergraduate students were selected to research meal kits from Dinnerly, HomeChef, and Blue Apron, as well as meal kit specific packaging from Smurfit Kappa, Daily Harvest, PaperLiners, KodiaKotton. These particular kits and packaging were selected in order to provide a wide range of packaging/insulation types for this research project.
Our packaging team at the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design has been expanded with a new project manager. Nicolas Navarro is a CPULD alumni who is originally from Costa Rica. Nico works in the pallet testing lab, taking over more and more of the daily running activities of a busy laboratory. He manages the student workers, organizes daily tasks, plans project with our outside customers, among many other responsibilities. He has already proven himself a great new asset for Center!
CPULD News Items
CPULD is proud to announce that our graduate student, Saewhan Kim. was awarded the H. E. Burkhart Outstanding Masters Student award for 2022. At the time of his award, Saewhan was pursuing an M.S. degree in Forestry and Forest Products. His major professor, Dr. Laszlo Horvath, told us that he “has had the chance to work with Saewhan since 2020 when he was accepted into the graduate program in my department. His research focuses on understanding and investigating the environmental impacts of a novel unit load design method that uses the stiffness of a pallet top deck to optimize the corrugated box design."
CPULD is proud to announce that our graduate student, Mary Paz Alvarez was awarded the Outstanding Teacher’s Assistant Award for 2022. Her research focuses on the interactions between plastic pails and pallets. Her results will be built into a commercial computer software which will allow companies to design safer and more sustainable unit loads by designing pallets specifically to optimize the plastic materials used in pails. Mary told us “now that I have successfully defended and published my master’s thesis, I have begun my work on my PhD, working side by side with the NWPCA to create a finite element analysis model.”
Saewhan Kim presented his research findings at the ISTA TransPack global industry conference and forum in 2022. This is ISTA’s signature, annual event and, in their own words, is “where the packaging community comes together to tackle today’s challenges, explore industry best practices, discover latest trends, and shape the future of transport packaging.” Saewhan shared the findings of a research project that he led and oversaw during the 2021-2022 school year about a new type of sustainable, paper-based, stretch film that can be used for unit load stabilization.
Mary Paz Alvarez was selected for the Global Perspectives Program here at Virginia Tech. Mary traveled to Switzerland, France, and Italy during May 2022. The Global Perspectives Program (GPP) is an example of a program through which VT graduate students are prepared to be global citizens. The purpose of GPP is to enable VT’s graduate students to “examine differences in academic practices and to develop innovative and effective approaches that foster international awareness and education. The program provides firsthand experiences that help each participant acknowledge the differences around the world and embrace a perspective beyond their own country of origin.”
Alumni Jorge Masis, graduated with his Master’s degree in December 2021. His research project looked into the damages that pallets sustain during their trips through the distribution supply chain, and how closely these damages match those created during CPULD’s accelerated pallet durability testing called FasTrack. Jorge’s research has been used to help update the FasTrack simulation to better represent the 20th century supply chain.
CPULD has been able to upgrade and/or replace many pieces of equipment over the last year. One of the major upgrades has been to the software running our unit load testing equipment. Our unit load tester was built in the 1950s by the Tinius Olsen company (Image 1), and it has been updated electronically a few times over the years. However, it has always been something we physically built or developed. Now, we've partnered with MTS to retrofit the whole control system with new, state-of-the-art capabilities.
CPULD is excited to announce that our faculty and graduate students have gotten nine articles published in peer-reviewed industry journals over the last year and a half! Our director, Dr. Laszlo Horvath, was author on all nine of these articles – some were written with his graduate students and some with his colleagues.
CPULD is offering new assistance for its graduate students! Writing is a major challenge for any college student. Whether it’s lack of or inadequate coursework, English as a second language, or just lack of knowledge of the rules of grammar, many of the students entering our programs need help with their professional writing capabilities. Even if a student is planning to go into a job that may seem like writing wouldn’t be an issue, good writing skills can help anyone stand out and succeed – because good writing skills translate to good communication skills, which everyone needs.
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