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Modern Distribution Centers and Wood Pallets
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Presentation: Friday, March 4, 2016

A lively, facilitated discussion on the supply chain challenges/opportunities for the usage of wood pallets that are surfacing as distribution centers incorporate new technologies and operating methodologies.

Distribution centers are undergoing a fundamental shift in design and operation as they respond to omni-channel market forces. “Flash sales” and growth of just-in-time distribution have these centers operating in a whole new way, with resultant needs/impacts on their wood pallet usage. Attend this session to learn how distribution packaging engineers, pallet manufacturers, and the entire supply chain can work together to assure that wood pallets and material handling systems of today and tomorrow continue to play nicely together.

Moderator & Panelists


Dr. Paul Winistorfer, Dean of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, Virginia Tech


  • Education Perspective: Dr. Laszlo Horvath, Director of CPULD, Virginia Tech
  • Pallet Industry Perspective: Ralph Rupert, Manager – Unit Load Technology, Millwood
  • Material Handling Industry Perspective: Susan Lacefield, Senior Editor, DC Velocity
  • Distribution Center Perspective: Ed Treacy, VP Supply Chain Efficiencies, Produce Marketing Association

    About Dr. Paul Winistorfer

    Dr. Paul Winistorfer is Dean of the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech. The college is home to nearly 1,100 students, 180 faculty, research scientists and staff, 4 academic departments, and more than 20 research centers and cooperatives.Prior to his appointment as Dean in 2009, Paul served the previous 8 years as head of the department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech (formerly named the department of wood science and forest products).

    Prior to his time in Virginia, Winistorfer served 16 years on the faculty of the University of Tennessee, and lead the establishment of the Tennessee Forest Products Center. Winistorfer’s research is in the area of composite manufacture and performance. He holds a U.S. Patent, twice received the American Museum of Science and Energy award for Technological Advancement, and was named the Outstanding Teacher of the Year. He launched a start-up to provide x-ray instrumentation to the wood industry.

    As Dean of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, Winistorfer has been leading initiatives to position the college and its departments for the future. In the past 5 years the college has added 15 new faculty positions, renamed the college and 3 departments, introduced new degree programs and majors, and accomplished significant course and curricula overhaul. Winistorfer established in the college the Leadership Institute, the Sustainability Institute, and the Center for Natural Resources Assessment and Decision Support.

    About Laszlo Horvath

    Laszlo Horvath is Director of CPULD, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech. Before moving to VT, Dr. Horvath received a Master of Science in Wood Engineering and a Master of Science in Engineering Management in 2007 from the University of West Hungary. During his education, his research focused on engineering and business aspects of wood manufacturing and wood structural design. In 2010, Dr. Horvath received a Ph.D. in Forest Biomaterials from North Carolina State University. His Ph.D. research focused on the effect of chemical content and composition on micromechanical properties of genetically engineered wood, micromechanical finite element modeling of lignocellulosic cell wall, and the use of vibrational spectroscopy in plant research. Currently, he is focusing on the development of a new packaging curriculum at the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech. His main research areas include the investigation of interactions between pallet, packaging and material handling systems, life cycle analysis of pallet production and repair.

    About Susan Lacefield

    Susan Lacefield, Editor at Large, has more than 15 years of experience writing for and editing supply chain publications. Before joining DC VELOCITY in 2007, she worked as an associate editor for Supply Chain Management Review, working with contributing authors, editing articles and writing feature articles for Logistics Management magazine.

    About Ralph Rupert

    Ralph Rupert is Manager Unit Load Technology at Millwood Incorporated. Ralph joined Millwood in 2011, having worked in a variety of technical and research positions in the wide realm of packaging for the last 35 years including film, corrugated, and pallets. By combining all of the materials of the unit load, he is a leading expert in the area of unit load transportation design and testing. He is active in several standards committees and is chair of both the US ANSI and ISO TC51 Pallet Standards Committee.

    About Ed Treacy

    With more than 30 years of senior management experience in logistics and supply chain management, Ed serves as PMA’s expert in developing supply chain practices to lead the produce and floral industries forward. Among his responsibilities, he monitors and forecasts trends related to supply chain efficiencies, and designs and maintains related products, services and educational events for PMA members. He also serves as staff lead and technical consultant to the industry-wide Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), and leads all data synchronization and alignment initiatives for PMA. He is also the current chairman of the International Federation for Produce Standards. A dual citizen of Canada and the U.S., Ed has spent most of his career working with major Canadian retail chains, including Loblaw Companies Ltd., Shoppers Drug Mart and Sobeys Inc., where he held the position of Senior Vice President of Logistics and Engineering.

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