Pallets are an important currency in logistics

Goods are often packed on pallets for transport. These load carriers represent an investment for shippers, freight forwarders, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. That is why they all participate in pallet exchange programmes. It is the basis of a pallet accounting system that logistics service providers maintain for exchanging pallets among companies.

How do pallet exchange programmes work on a day-to-day basis?

Pallets are essential to value creation in logistics companies and tie up capital unnecessarily if they are not transported with goods. Pallet exchange is a way to ensure the availability of pallets and other load carriers at all locations where trucks load and unload cargo. A truck unloads empty pallets at the shipper's premises prior to loading a shipment in order to give the shipper an equivalent number of pallets to replace the ones leaving with the outgoing shipment. The pallet exchange method simplifies the use of load carriers and make processes run more smoothly. This requires the establishment of pools containing similar load carriers such as Euro pallets. The load carriers can then be exchanged as needed. The exchange pool is not limited to a specific shipper/carrier pairing but is available to all participating companies. The main benefit of a pallet exchange programme is that participants always have access to load carriers that meet specific quality standards and do not have to constantly buy new pallets.

Pallet exchange programmes in practice

However, the pallet exchange system assumes that the number of empty load carriers left at the loading site always equals the number taken from the site. Any discrepancy is called a pallet debt. It causes costs. The pallet clearing system aims to address pallet debt. Companies can join web-based platforms that act as large-scale clearinghouses to settle pallet debts between regions. That gives them full visibility into pallet availability.

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