Monthly Archives: May 2010

RESEARCH BRIEF: US Pallet Industry Update in US Market

Leslie Scarlett Sanchez, MS Candidate
Department of Wood Science and Forest Products
Virginia Tech
Pallets in the U.S. Market

The growth of international trade in the last decades created the need to improve not only transportation infrastructure and technology, but also the elements used during transportation process such as handling, loading, unloading, warehousing. One of these elements is the pallet. Pallets and containers play an important role in the movement of goods from place to place. They are not only used in warehouses or commercial centers, but also in all those activities that require an efficient way of transportation. Pallets allow reducing time and cost in an efficient manner, facilitating handling and transportation of raw and in-process materials, or finished products from the supplier to the manufacturer, from the manufacturer to the wholesaler, and then to the retailer. About 450 million new pallets are manufactured in the US each year, 1.9 billion are in use in the U.S. each year, and 300 million pallets are recovered by pallet recyclers each year.

Pallets definition

Pallets are the interface between packaging and the unit load handling equipment (White & Hamner, 2005). Another simpler definition is that pallets are “portable platforms”, which facilitates the movement and storage of unitized goods (Kator, 2008).

Unit loads are also important to define, as the system comprised of pallets, packaging materials, and unit load stabilizers (stretch wrap, tie sheets, corner posts, load adhesives, and strapping). Figure 1-1 shows two examples of pallets and unit loads.


Figure 1-1. Pallets and Unit load

Wood Pallet and Containers Imports in the U.S. Market

According to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the Wood Pallet and Container product class is represented by the following sub-classes which show percentages, representing the average share of each sub-class on the total value of shipments for years 2002 to 2006. Wood pallets and containers, and wood-metal combinations made up 62% of the total product class’ value of shipments.


Figure 1‑2. Share of Product Sub-Categories on Wood Pallet and Container Manufacturing Product Class (based on value of shipments, Census Bureau 2009)

U.S Domestic Production

The U.S. domestic production is showed in the figure 1-3 bellow. It is evident from Figure 1.3 that exists an increase over the years. In 2000 the domestic production was $ 4,8 billion and for 2007 was 7,2 billion representing a 49% of increase in 7 years.


Figure 1-3. U.S. Pallet Domestic Production (Census Bureau 2009)

U.S. Imports

Figure 1-4 shows the total imports and value of shipments (domestic production) of wood pallets and containers, and the share of imports over total domestic consumption. The later was obtained by adding imports and value of shipments. The value of product shipments (domestic production) has grown from about $5 billion to $7.2 billion over the 8-year period. Imports have stayed almost constant throughout those years. As a result, the share of imports on the domestic consumption of wood pallet and containers, has decreased, from 7.7% in year 2000 to 7.1% in year 2007; a drop of 8%.

Figure 1-4. Wood Pallets and Container Imports and Domestic Production (Census Bureau 2009)

Regarding countries of origin for imports, Figure 1-5 shows the ten major exporters of Wood pallets and containers to the U.S. from year 2000 to 2008.


Figure 1-5. Ten Major Country Exporters of Wood Pallets and Containers to the U.S. in the year 2008 (Census Bureau 2009)

WORKSHOP: Process Improvement Frameworks

Presented by


Workshop Description:

Strategic frameworks are a set of ideas and guidelines to increase the efficiency of your internal business processes and to raise customer satisfaction levels. Strategic frameworks can be classified into three different categories: process improvement, organizational management, and process automation. Process improvement frameworks focus on the improvement of internal processes in a firm such as manufacturing, procurement, human resources, financial, and distribution. Organizational management frameworks aim to help a firm to better organize the company’s overall strategy. Automation frameworks are related to the implementation of information technology solutions to increase the productivity, communication, and synchronization of all internal business processes with external entities such as customers and suppliers.

The business process improvement framework by the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC)

Process improvement frameworks such as Lean Thinking, Six Sigma, Supply Chain Management, and Theory of Constraints have been commonly adopted in many manufacturing and service industries. In this workshop, we will give you the basics of each of the most important process improvement frameworks. We will also introduce other strategic frameworks such as Value Chains, Business Process Management and Enterprise Resources Planning to help you develop a strategy to implement your process improvement framework. We have carefully selected a list of speakers that bring academic credibility in combination with industry expertise.

Workshop outline (subject to change)

  • Strategic Frameworks, Henry Quesada, Operations Research Assistant Professor,  Department of Wood Science and Forest Products
  • Six Sigma, Johanna Madrigal, Six Sigma Green Belt and PhD Candidate,  Department of Wood Science and Forest Products
  • Lean Thinking, Earl Kline, Operations Research Professor,  Department of Wood Science and Forest Products
  • Supply Chain Management, Jaime Camelio, Operations Research Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Systems Engineering 
  • Business Process Management, Henry Quesada
  • Enterprise Resource Planning, Roberta Rusell, Business and Information Technology Professor, Pamplin School of Business
  • Roundtable discussion

Workshop Objectives:

  • Understand the basic concepts of the most important process improvement frameworks.
  • Learn how to integrate different process improvement frameworks using Business Process Management.
  • Understand which process improvement framework is a better fit for your own business.
  • Discover the impact of automation frameworks to increase your internal processes productivity.

Who should attend:

  • Plant Managers, Quality Engineers, Process Engineers, Procurement Managers, Supplier Chain Managers, Purchasing Managers, Plant Engineers, Small and Medium Enterprise Managers.
  • Anyone interested in learning the basics of Process Improvement

Unique value of the workshop

  • Attendants will have the opportunity to understand the main advantages and disadvantages of the most common process improvement frameworks.
  • Participants will be given details to understand what process improvement framework could best fit their own firm’s business model.
  • Participants will be given examples and practical applications to better understand the process improvement framework concepts.

Location, date and registration:

  • Date: October 22, 2010
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Location: Brooks Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
  • Investment: $35. Includes coffee breaks and workshop materials.
  • REGISTRATION: Please click here

Further information:

Please contact Dr. Henry Quesada at or at (540)231-0978 if you have any questions.