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In a High-Volume, Low-Margin, Customer-centric Business, Everything Counts

In the pallet business, everything counts. But it's what you do with the data that really matters. Here's why.


analytics graphThe pallet industry has traditionally been a numbers game. To be profitable in this low-margin business, you have to have volume. Everything counts. The number of pallets sold. The number of pallets collected. The number of loads to and from customers.

Today’s pallet industry is still a numbers game, but for successful, high-volume companies like 48forty—we manage more than 90 million pallets a year—the real value we deliver to our customers beyond pallets and pallet retrieval services is the data that we collect, aggregate, analyze, apply, and share. That’s an incredible amount of data!

[The value of recycled pallets is on the rise. Here's how to make sure you're maximizing your income from pallet retrieval transactions.]

Here are examples of the basic data we track (it goes much deeper than this):

  • Pallets, by grade, coming in and out of our 45 owned and over 180 partner facilities;
  • Pallets, by grade, on our customers’ docks;
  • The number of pallets repaired by our employees, by grade, by facility, per hour;
  • Every trip made by our tractors, trailers and drivers, including by customer, customer location, miles logged, fuel consumption, road time, and turn times; and
  • Quality issues, factors and time to resolution.

business intelligenceAll of the data generated by tracking these numbers has one end game: to generate business intelligence we can use to support our customers and our own business. One of the main things we look for is trends in the data that will help us manage our business better and improve customer service and responsiveness. Some of the trends we study are:

  • Seasonality in demand for pallets purchases and pallet retrieval services;
  • Seasonality in demand by customer, industries and geographic areas;
  • Preferences in pallet grades;
  • Fuel consumption and surcharges; and
  • Customer satisfaction.

We use Microsoft-based analytical cubes that deliver data flows, support enterprise reporting, and extract and analyze insights. With this information, which is constantly tracked and validated, we are able to make data-informed decisions around sales forecasting, deal and resource management, and financial management that benefit customers and 48forty. We openly share data with our customers, which gives them unprecedented visibility into their own supply chains and allows them to make data-informed decisions.

[Do you know how much pallets affect your overall product costs?  See how making the switch to recycled pallets can give your business a competitive edge here.] 

analytics bar When customers can see real, validated data on their overall pallet usage, pallet sales, trends, and financial reporting in as much detail as desired, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s also a value add not every pallet company can provide.

Pallet purchasing—or core retrievals—are a perfect example of how 48forty’ focus on data counts to our customers’ businesses.

There’s a complexity to pallet purchasing that’s not always obvious. In addition to an overall count, pallets must also be graded and pooled and scrap pallets noted. This is done on the customer’s back dock, quickly and as pallets are loaded onto our trailer. 48forty’s counts are digitally uploaded—there is no paper involved—in real time and the data goes straight into our operating system. Within 24 hours, customers can go onto our online customer portal, PalTrax®, and pull up digital documentation on everything we picked up and purchased. Having accessible, hard data like this in such a transparent form gives customers insight into their own business and supports a stronger relationship with 48forty.

[There is no standardized, industry-approved nomenclature  for pallets. Here's what to consider to make sure a supplier's pallet specs will work for you.]

collaboration At the end of the day, the pallet industry is more than a numbers game; it’s a data game. The information we collect, and more importantly apply and share with our customers, has enabled 48forty to be the leading pallet solutions provider. In this business, we appreciate the fact that everything counts!

Throughout the month of February, 48forty is celebrating the power of our IT systems and team. (If you missed the first installment, check it out here.) If you’d like to learn more about what we do with IT to support your company’s success — whether through our popular online portal PalTrax, customer-centric data reporting or other solutions — drop us a line or give us a call at 1-877.779-8577.

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chuck-koch-headshotChuck has nearly 20 years of information technology and management experience across several industries. As 48forty's CIO, he is responsible for the strategy the information technology organization as they provide the tools and technologies that enable 48forty to deliver exceptional services to its valued customers. Read more about Chuck here.