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What is a slipsheet and why do I need one?


A slipsheet is a forklift accessory used in materials handling for utilizing space. It is a thin sheet of plastic, paperboard or a solid fiber that sets on a pallet, allowing the pallet to be removed. With this application, a warehouse operation or transportation method can create more room for more product, reduce costs and injuries and increase cleanliness and sanitation by eliminating pallets.

History of slipsheets

Slipsheets were, so far as is known, first used in the mid-1940s for the use of canned fruit. The purpose of this was to reduce the costs of storage for long periods of time.

Slipsheets became vastly popular in the 70’s. At the time pallet control was difficult and long hauls were getting expensive and unsanitary with pallet use. Slipsheets were a beneficial choice for many reasons at the time.

In 1988, Apple Computer saved millions of dollars by using slipsheets to transport computer parts across the seas in ocean shipments. Pallets would have taken up too much space in the shipment cubes, which in turn would have increased the number of ocean containers used.

In 1991, Micropolis revolutionized slipsheets by using the application in airfreight. Today, slipsheets are used for many different applications including semis, air, sea and storage.

Advantages of slipsheets

Just like pallets, there are the pros and cons of using slipsheets. The biggest advantage that slipsheets have over pallets is it can average around a dollar less per each unit-load. Unlike pallets, a slipsheet is cheap enough to be thrown away after each use and it doesn’t need to be tracked or repaired. They’re also considered environmentally friendly, as they are easily recyclable.

Slipsheets can weigh two to three times less than the familiar pallet. This makes it very good for transportation and for storage. Slipsheets are also very thin compared to pallets. Pallets have a height of about 4 inches while a slipsheet is less than an inch which helps to maximize the use of vertical space.

Slipsheets also can help keep a warehouse cleaner. The number one cause of rodent infestation and contaminations in a warehouse are from the importation of pallets. Since slipsheets don’t have the depth that a pallet has, there is no room for rodents to get stowed away. Also, since it can be thrown away, the slipsheet can eliminate the cross contamination from previous uses.

Using slipsheets can eliminate fire hazards by reducing the size of wooden pallet storage in large, confined areas inside a warehouse or outside. And of course increasing warehouse space by eradicating pallet storage.

Disadvantages of slipsheets

The biggest disadvantage of using slipsheets over pallets is that a push/pull attachment needs to be added to the lift truck. These attachments can run between $6,000 and $8,000 dollars. This device holds on to the lip of the slipsheet and pulls the load off and on to a set of wide forks. Along with this special equipment comes special training. Operators are required to be properly trained while using the push/pull attachment. It takes both time and money to get an operator and a forklift ready for conversion to slip sheet use.

It is important to know which slipsheet is best for the application. Since slipsheets come in three different materials, plastic, paperboard or a solid fiber, it’s crucial to use the right one. Information needed includes: Weight and dimensions of the load; how many times the load will be handled, what conditions are present – such as humidity, freezer, etc.; and if slipping between slipsheet and load will be a problem and treatment is needed. A slipsheet supplier can answer all these questions.

Bibliography: Push/Pull & Slipsheet Handling Manual; Cascade Corporation, Global Solutions in Materials Handling.

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