Logistics: Pampering Pallets


September 24, 2008:  The U.S. Air Force plans to spend nearly $140 million over the next five years, just for repairing 463L pallets used for cargo carried by transport aircraft. This covers repairs to over 400,000 pallets, at a cost of about $330 each. The 290 pound 463L pallets (plus the 65 pounds of netting that is used to secure cargo inside aircraft) costs $1,700 each new. The 88x108 inch (224x274 cm) pallets are about four inches high, and can carry about four tons each. These pallets have been getting a lot of use lately, and have been in big demand since September 11, 2001. Many are tied up holding cargo that is waiting to be moved forward, or just being stored for a while. The pallets also get beat up a lot through heavy use, and that's why the air force is spending so much to repair damaged ones. It's a lot cheaper than buying new ones. The pallets are built for lightness (balsa wood covered by an aluminum skin) and strength. But they are also more fragile than all metal (and heavier) pallets.


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