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Clark Sabattus' Research

Measurements of the hazards experienced by pallets during material handling

Clark Sabattus

Clark Sabattus

Clark Sabattus

M.S. Student.

Find Clark on LinkedIn



Clark Sabattus came to CPULD after getting his undergraduate degree at NC State in Sustainable Materials and Technology. Clark started out getting a business degree, but found his passions lay in learning more about sustainability. When asked what brought him to VT, and to CPULD in particular, Clark told us, “... after looking into the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, and more specifically CPULD, I was more than impressed with the amount of real-world applications and hands-on experience that the graduate students experience.”

Clark will be helping CPULD update our FasTrack testing procedures by investigating the magnitude of impacts that pallets experience during material handling operations. The data Clark collects will allow the Center to develop better pallet durability testing standards, help companies to both better estimate the durability of their pallets, and  help everyone design more efficient pallets.

Research Abstract:

Pallets are ubiquitous in the supply chain with over 2.6 billion in circulation in the United States alone. Although often overlooked, pallets can become costly for a company if not designed correctly for their specific supply chain. Durability is an essential characteristic for pallets; it defines the expected life of the pallet in the supply chain. Forklifts are the dominant mode of material handling for palletized products, and they are responsible for the majority of damages experienced by pallets. Despite the prominence of forklifts in the supply chain and their importance in pallet design, there is a lack of research focusing on this interaction between forklifts and pallets.

The objective of this research was to investigate the intensity of the horizontal impacts that forklifts exert on pallets during material handling. Forklifts in multiple warehousing and manufacturing facilities were instrumented with Lansmont Saver 3x90 data loggers to characterize and record the acceleration, duration, and velocity change values during pallet handling. The highest impacts were observed for manufacturing facilities with an average g-force of 3.51 g’s. The intensity of impacts increased when the forklifts handled heavier unit loads.

The results of this study will be used to revise the durability testing procedures used in pallet testing standards in order to better represent current material handling processes found in supply chains.