Ozkor’s Expal-1140 is a plastic pallet that it designed with its customer Blackmores in mind. MHD spoke to George Casha, a Distribution Centre Manager at the health and wellbeing company. Blackmores had been encountering various problems with traditional timber pallets, and they were also in short supply. Ozkor provided a solution that addressed these shortcomings by supplying Blackmores with Ozkor’s signature, locally manufactured plastic pallets.
Blackmores, the renowned health and wellbeing company, exports vitamins, tablets, and minerals – both domestically and globally.
“We use Ozkor’s Expal pallets for our domestic export customers and our direct export consumers,” George Casha, Distribution Centre Manager at Blackmores, says.
George notes that there are two means by which Blackmores products are exported.
“One method is to ship vitamins on pallets to our domestic export customers, who in turn correlate all the orders, fill containers, and then freight them overseas themselves. The other method is our direct export market, where we export directly from our Western Sydney warehouse to the Asia Pacific region.”
Shortages and Problems with Timber Pallets
George notes one of the challenges Blackmores has recently faced is a shortage of timber pallets in terms of accessibility and availability. The shortage includes timber and even rental pallets.
He says Blackmores experimented with custom-made timber pallets, but there were two problems.
Firstly, a shortage of timber in general – meaning higher costs because the raw materials were scarce. Secondly, the turnaround time from mill to pallet was too quick, which meant the timber used to construct the pallets had insufficient time to dry. Moist timber started to generate mould on the pallets, which could potentially contaminate products carried on such pallets.
“Moisture ingress was still present in the timber by the time it came to our warehouse, and pre-inspection identified that could not use them to export goods,” George explains. “There was mould growth on some pallets – which for us was an unacceptable outcome.”
Considering Blackmores’ position in the market and the high regard in which its products are held, George says it couldn’t afford to have its reputation tarnished by using timber pallets that might spoil products during export.
And this is where Ozkor came in, by providing Blackmores with its Export pallets. “Our usage of Ozkor’s plastic pallets has increased substantially,” George says. “Among the benefits of using plastic pallets is that they can be sourced locally with Ozkor manufacturing them in Sydney.”
Compared with traditional pallets, plastic pallets don’t suffer from restricted access to scarce – and increasingly scarce – timber for their manufacture. And there isn’t much competition in the plastic pallet industry either. They also aren’t susceptible to moisture ingress that might damage products and compromise the required hygiene standards expected. Furthermore, there is no paperwork required because they’re plastic and locally manufactured, and they can be quickly supplied to Blackmores.
Additionally, like timber pallets, they’re still Rackable. “When we get them out of the trucks, we can store them quite safely in our warehouse,” George says.
“They’re relatively lightweight, so they’re very easy to handle. They’re cost effective from an air freight perspective because you pay per kilo for air freight. Dead weight is weight that is not earning us any income. So, the less dead weight our pallets are contributing, the cheaper our freight costs will be.”
He adds that another benefit of using plastic pallets is that – being made in New South Wales – more manufacturing jobs are kept in Australia.
More Demand Means More Pallets
With demand for products both locally and internationally, and an increase in the Asia export market over the past few years, Blackmores has needed the export plastic pallet more than ever.
George says there has been a timber pallet shortage for the past 12 to 18 months and this problem won’t be resolved any time soon.
“I can’t see any immediate reduction in the use of Ozkor Expal pallets,” he says. “The export market has changed in certain countries with certain products, however, there has been substantial growth over the past three to four years in different regions with different products.”
George explains that he expects this trend and anticipated growth to continue over the next 12 to 18 months.
Blackmores’ operations depend on a reliable supply of plastic pallets, which is what Ozkor delivers. George says it’s necessary for the company to have pallets available on site to meet its fluctuating demands.
“There could be times where our daily demand is quite high, and then we might be quiet for the next three or four days,” he explains. “Ozkor’s support and quick supply turnaround with delivery in full, and their clear communication, mean our expectations are always met. This in turn means we can fulfil our obligations to our own customers.”
In servicing the increasing demand of the Asian market, he says Blackmores has come to rely more and more on Ozkor over the past couple of years.
“Our usage of Ozkor’s plastic pallets has increased substantially. Among the benefits of using plastic pallets is that they can be sourced locally with Ozkor manufacturing them in Sydney.”
Ozkor and Blackmores – A Reciprocal Partnership
Ozkor’s plastic pallets are what George describes as being fit for purpose and doing what he expects them to do.
“I’ve never experienced any quality issues with the product being supplied and it’s quite consistent; it’s reliable,” he says.
He also notes when Blackmores has put pressure on Ozkor to supply on short notice – or its forecast and demand for pallets has changed – it has always delivered.
Ozkor says Blackmores was a major influence on its decision-making process when it was designing and making the Expal plastic pallets, and that its other customers have also benefited from the innovations made.
The decision for Ozkor to manufacture plastic export pallet model Expal-1140 in Australia came to market at an opportune time, because international shipping costs for timber pallets were unsustainable and were inevitably passed onto customers, something Blackmores – among many other exporters – wished to avoid.
George says Ozkor took on board Blackmores’ requirements when creating the Expal plastic pallets.
The Expal-1140 has been Blackmores’ preferred plastic pallet in contrast to the other available alternatives as it’s compliant with ISPM-15 and Australian racking regulations.
Blackmores finds the Expal-1140 perfectly suited to container loading, comes in customisable sizes, is beneficial not just in terms of air freight, but in terms of export container freight, too.
George adds that Blackmores has never been concerned that Ozkor couldn’t provide plastic pallets promptly, saying the supply has always been strong and consistent, even during these turbulent times.
“They’ve always been able to meet our changing needs, whether that’s an increase or a decrease,” George says.
There are certain consumables that are in short supply, especially in the US and China; one example being infant formula.
Blackmores notes a large portion of its exports have involved good quality infant formula – an item that the US and China need.
George says it’s for all these reasons that Blackmores will cooperate with Ozkor indefinitely.
“With the success of our partnership to date, I expect it’s one that will continue long into the future.”