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Tapping onto our forte research capabilities in simulations and analysis, IHPC industry projects have greatly benefitted our industry collaborators, cultivating strong R&D ties, creating synergies and extracting their projects into long term partnership with the institute.
Pallets Asia, a Singapore-based SME providing pallets, sought the assistance of A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) to develop a novel pallet design that seeks to extend the lifespan and improve the reliability of current pallet types.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A PALLET?
A pallet is a horizontal plane structure that supports loads in a stable fashion while being lifted by a jacking device. Allowing for handling and storage efficiencies, pallets act as very important structural foundations for their unit loads during the transportation of goods. As such, designing pallets that are highly efficient will benefit many companies, especially for those in the shipping and logistical industries.
Tapping on the research capabilities of the Finite Element experts at IHPC, the prototype design was modelled using advanced software and crucial design factors were identified and analyzed accordingly using computational simulation.
With the invaluable simulation results from IHPC, design modifications and optimization features were included to improve the product lifespan of the pallets. Through this industry partnership, combining the technical expertise of IHPC scientists and the practical industrial experience of the Pallets Asia team, the synergy generated by this project had one major breakthrough: Innovation in the design mechanism of the newly created pallets.
However, it was not all smooth sailing. As with most pallets that have to endure extremely high stress, the collaborators were faced with the challenges of having to overcome a design limitation due to the stress concentration that exists at the interface between the forklift and the inner surface during lifting.
Using the method of Finite Element Analysis, the team was able to identify the locations of the crucial stress concentrations and subsequently, with the implementation of an additional polymer layer as a design improvement, defuse the high stress concentration. As a result, the maximum stress at the interface was reduced by a factor of half, due to the compliant polymer layer.
Aside from that, the team also had to take into considerations the cost and scalability of the project, before manufacturing the prototype pallets.
The new pallet design developed with IHPC’s assistance has many advantages that outweigh conventional wooden and plastic pallets.
They take up less than 80% of the space occupied by normal pallets, and are environmentally friendly – the new pallets help to save fuel and are 100% re-usable and recyclable.
With fewer materials being used, the new pallet design translated to greater cost savings for both Pallets Asia and their customers.
True to the corporate motto of Pallets Asia, the new pallets definitely ‘Pack More with Less’. The launch of the new pallets has raised the profile of Pallets Asia, and the company is currently looking at expanding their distribution of this green product.
This page is last updated at: 18-JUN-2014