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Collaboration Between NWPCA and Virginia Tech

April 19, 2017 –  

By Laszlo Horvath

National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) and Virginia Tech are working together to move the pallet industry into the 21st Century. NWPCA became one of the Gold level members of the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design (CPULD) in 2015 and established the NWPCA Research Fellowship program in which graduate students are supported to investigate the interaction between packages and pallets and to conduct research that helps the pallet industry be more sustainable. Page Clayton was the first student supported by the program. Page graduated from Virginia Tech’s Packaging Systems and Design program in May 2015. During his time at Virginia Tech, Page was extensively involved in the packaging program, he participated in the Sustainable Packaging Designer Trainee program offered by CPULD, worked as a laboratory technician for the Center for two years, and was actively involved in the Packaging Club. After graduation, Page continued to work for the Center and used the skills that he learned during his undergraduate studies to help packaging companies design safer and more sustainable packaging solutions.

Page started his graduate studies in January 2016. His research focuses on the investigation of the compression stress distribution between corrugated boxes and wooden pallets. Thisyear, he was invited to present the preliminary findings of his work at NWPCA’s 2017 Annual Leadership Meeting in Tucson, AZ.

In 2016 August, NWPCA in collaboration with the US Forest Service, supported another graduate student (Nathan Gerber) whose research focuses on gathering information on the status of the wooden pallet industry. Virginia Tech has been surveying the pallet industry since 1995. As part of the project, Nathan worked collaboratively with the Science and Technology Committee of NWPCA to make sure that the survey covers all important aspects of the pallet industry. The survey will be sent out in May, 2017 both in a paper and electronic format to improve participation from the industry. In addition to providing support for graduate students, NWPCA also offers scholarships to packaging students. In 2015, four undergraduate students (William Bagby (Senior), Landon Holbert (Senior), Teddy Polk (Senior), and Bradley Sisson (Graduated in 2016) received the NWPCA scholarship. The students also had a chance to participate in an undergraduate research project sponsored by NWPCA. The students investigated the effect of pallet gaps and package overhang on the distribution of compression stresses under the corrugated box. The students had a chance to travel to Orlando, FL and present their research findings during NWPCA’s 2016 Annual Leadership Meeting. This year, another four students (Michelle Lipka (Junior), Leah Johnson (Junior), Hunter Houston (Senior), and Chandler Quesenberry (Junior)) had a chance to work on an undergraduate research project sponsored by NWPCA. Hunter Houston (Senior) was invited to represent the group in NWPCA’s 2017 Annual Leadership Meeting.

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