When it comes to the largest containership sailing the oceans, shipping companies worldwide are competing for leadership. At a length of 395 metres, a width of 59 metres and a loading capacity of 19,244 standard containers, ‚MSC Zoe’ will soon lose its number one ranking as the biggest containership worldwide. Various Asian shipyards are already building ships with a loading capacity of 21,000 TEU containers. At the same time, logistics demands are rising: Long transport routes as well as import and export regulations require the best possible utilisation of specific pallets and product packaging.
Competition for wooden pallets
TEU shipping containers are predominantly loaded with wooden Euro pallets. For the first time ever, they were solely produced under the EPAL licence last year, whereby production increased by three percent compared to 2013 to a total of 66 million units. With their standardised measurement of 80 x 160 cm and a maximum load of 1,500 kilogrammes, they ensure unlimited exchangeability, high quality standards and perpetual availability in the open pallet pool. The stacking height depends on the stability of the boxes concerned; when loaded to full capacity, a 20-foot container can hold some 6,200 shoe cartons. Apart from wooden pallets, other materials are also making inroads into the market.
Lattice box pallets, for example, offer additional product protection due to their steel frame, and Ikea has been transporting goods on cardboard pallets since January. In doing so, the Swedish furniture chain wants to reduce its annual haulage costs by 10 percent while simultaneously protecting the environment. However, some experts question the advantages of such paper packaging. Even though paper does burn better than wood, Professor Wolfgang Bode of Osnabrück University points out that conveyor systems would have to be adapted to the new packaging. Furthermore, experts recommend wood for its longer durability in comparison to cardboard.