I used to work for the logistics industry. I worked in the container shipping and container forwarding industry and have experience as well dealing with courier companies. By working in these sectors of the logistics industry, I gained knowledge of the intricacies of moving goods.
But one thing I learned about the logistics industry in general, is that the weight of the products they move is one of the most important factor they consider when pricing their transport services to their clients.
If you ever decided to sent a package by general courier service, for example if you were sending Christmas packages overseas. You would know that there would already be standard sized package boxes for you to choose from and the shipping rates would fairly be uniform.
But one thing that these courier companies would be strict about is the weight of your goods. Whenever a courier comes in to deliver my package boxes, they usually come with a scale to measure how heavy my packages boxes are and add on extra charges accordingly.
I could predict with some certainty that my opening paragraph is boring because what I have discussed seems very mundane compared to the other issues related to logistics and moving goods.
But I learned the true importance of the weight of goods in terms of logistics. One day, I purchased weight plates in an e-commerce site which promised between two to three days delivery.
Ordinarily, this e-commerce site was very dependable. It usually delivered my online orders on the scheduled date they promised and sometimes even earlier. The first time I realized there could be a problem with the delivery of my weight plates was with the delivery rates.
Of course, delivery rates are fairly standard so most people order more goods per order in order to save on e-commerce delivery costs. To my surprise, even though I ordered in bulk, the e-commerce company still charged me by the kilogram which ended up costing half of the price of my order.
Then the real problem happened, a month has passed by and my weight plates still remained undelivered with the e-commerce company stopping to send me delivery status updates and apologies. Then someone familiar with my problem told me that my order was too heavy to be financially viable for the e-commerce company.
At first, I was very angry with the e-commerce company. They contractually agreed to deliver my plate weights to me at a certain date. They never did this even when I already paid a premium on the delivery costs.
But then I realized that I was dealing with an e-commerce company who uses motorcycle drivers to deliver the goods ordered to them by their customers. I began to realize that my order of weight plates would be very difficult to transport by motorcycle.
The e-commerce company would need a small van to deliver my weight plates. If they did, the cost of paying the driver and the petrol expenses could have eaten all the profits the e-commerce company would have on my order.
I tried calling other shops that sell weight plates. Most of them only offer pickup arrangements. That is, the buyer would have to pickup the weight plates themselves from the shop. The ones that do offer delivery services, are so prohibitively expensive.
Then I remembered as a young man how difficult it was to transport plate weights. If you are not physically fit, you can even have an accident. I’m hoping that by now, most of you readers would have realized the gravity of the problem of transporting weight plates on an economical scale.
In general, the “standard” weight is getting more and more expensive. This is because the price of steel is getting more and more expensive. Of course we could already add the problem of the expensive cost of transporting heavy goods such as weight plates.
If you Google the search keywords: “are weight plates getting expensive” for example, you would be presented with plenty of articles that discuss this problem. Of course the problem already exists, but it is further made worse by the pandemic.
To be able to manufacture weight plates, you would need a metal forging or a blacksmith shop which by their very nature are very hot environments. I can only imagine the discomfort a blacksmith would encounter if they ever have to wear safety masks and even face shields.
Then there is also the issue of logistics. Logistics costs have been skyrocketing due to the pandemic and one of the issues of weight plates is that they are very difficult to transport without heavy duty equipment.
This must be the reason why some businesspeople have tried to tackle the problem. One of the innovations I have seen is the use of alternative weight materials besides steel like sand and water.
Of course, you cannot create a weight plate out of water even if you have frozen it solid. Water is not meant to be permanently solid, but you can in principle make water take on a solid form permanently by putting it in a container. So, you just need a container to make water a weight.
The same goes for sand or soil. Just like water, they tend to break apart unless you put them in a container. So, water, sand, soil or even gravel and rocks as well as anything with weight can theoretically be used as a replacement for steel weight plates.
Of course, since steel is the heaviest material per volume as compared to all the materials I have enumerated, it would take up less space when made into a weight plate. And this is precisely the reason why they are more expensive as weight plates.
However, while I was doing some price research in Alibaba and was looking at the cheapest weight plates I can find, I found a manufacturer who uses hollow steel plate weights whose insides contained a mixture of sand and concrete.
This technology enabled the company to sell their weight plates at 1/5 the price of the most cheapest steel weight plates. I could imagine that these concrete-sand weight plates would be bigger than steel weight plates, but considering how cheap they are, I would rather buy them.
The cheapness of this product emphasizes the growing importance of sand in the weight plate industry. Sand may not be as heavy as steel per volume, but in terms of price, they have steel beat.
Another point to consider is that sand does not need forging unlike steel which is a hard thing to do. There are places with plenty of sand just lying around. Deserts in fact are almost entirely made out of sand.
Of course, water is more readily available and is much cheaper, but water is very difficult to contain in a container if they are to be used as weight plates. A single hole in your water weight plate would almost certainly make it useless.
Then there is soil. Of course, if you have no sand around, you can always use soil. But between sand and soil, the former is heavier by volume and would make a much more compact weight plate. This could change in the future as the competition based on price becomes a major factor in the weight plate industry.
Lastly, you could also consider rocks, gravel, wood and some other material as filling for your hollow weight plates. But I don’t think they would be as cost effective as sand or soil. You would incur a lot of costs just to break down this alternative materials into powder.
At this stage, it might be clear to everyone now that sand is a good alternative to steel as weight plates in terms of costs. And we also know that sand needs a container to become a weight plate.
But what could you possibly use as a container for sand to make it an ideal competitor to steel weight plates? If you have been watching many DIY videos in YouTube about making barbells and dumbbells out of sand, you would notice that many of them are made with common containers found at home.
This could be rounded tin cans and even old tires filled with sand and similar materials. I hope you have guessed by now what I’m getting at. These DIY containers found at homes are rounded in shape.
And this is very important. Its the same reason why almost all commercial steel weight plates are also round in shape at the edges. And what’s the advantage of an object being rounded in shape? It can roll. Barbells and dumbbells can become so heavy that they can only be rolled to move them.
And this is the reason why if you’re planning to sell bags as a container for weight, they should have the ability to be rolled. A bag shaped like a weight plate complete with a circular edge and a hole in the middle would fit the bill.
You might ask yourself: “Would a weight bag filled with sand really appeal to people who are used to steel weight plates?” The answer is yes! There are already weight bag products in the market being sold.
The beauty of this product is that it defeats the transport costs and problems associated with delivering heavy weight plates. For one, the issue of weight is eliminated. Weight bags are almost as heavy as ordinary empty bags.
It also gives the buyer the option on what weight material to use. A buyer can simply fill it with soda water bottles filled with tap water. A buyer can also just decide to dig up soil from their gardens to fill up the weight bag.
Of course, if the buyer lives in a sandy area like the beach or the desert, they can just fill up their weight bags with sand. They can also just decide to buy sand being sold at their local hardware shops.
And if they are the typical person who only uses their weight equipments for a short time before they get tired of it, they can simply empty their weight bags and store them until such time they are ready to use them again.
But you may say: “Weight bags would not replace steel weight plates in the gym.” Only time can tell if this would happen or not. One thing is for sure, they make a great alternative to steel weight plates even in gym environments. It’s just a matter of packaging/marketing.
Since weight bags would be larger than steel weight plates in terms of volume, there are plenty of opportunities to decorate them. Since weight bags would likely come from a heavy duty material, they can be printed upon.
A gym primarily concentrating on women customers can put female oriented designs on their weight bags. They can even sell the empty weight bags as actual everyday bags to their gym customers and other non-gym customers.
And if the gym has facilities for children, they can shape their weight bags according to shapes and designs that appeal to children. For example, a light weight bag can be shaped in the form of a teddy bear or some other well liked character.
I may be considered very brave or very foolish when I declare that weight bags have the potential to overtake steel weight plates in terms of usage, but consider that steel weight plates are nothing more than heavy objects with a hole in the middle.
They just have a very simple purpose which can be duplicated by other products which are also heavy and with a hole in them. It would just take a clever bit of marketing to dislodge them from their top place.
Firstly unless you use your power tools full-time you should consider renting them out. During the weekdays we do our work and mostly rest in the evenings. Power tool projects are mostly done during the weekends when we have all day to work on our power tool projects...