Shipping Pallets

Shipping Pallets: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

If you’re importing from China, you will definitely need high quality and reliable shipping pallets.

A reason why this guide explores all the fundamental aspects of shipping pallets, from design, material type, quality standards to benefits, just to mention a few.

So, if you want to be an expert in shipping pallets, read this guide.

What is a Shipping Pallet and Palletizing?

A shipping pallet is a cargo structure that is flat in shape and used in freight shipment/transportation.

It provides support and stability to the cargo and offers ease of handling through a forklift, pallet jack, or any other mechanized cargo lifting technique.

Shipping pallets technology came in the twentieth century.

It has since offered superior cargo transport compared to other traditional forms like wooden barrels and boxes.

Besides, shipping pallets are more compatible with modern shipping packages, such as intermodal containers and cardboard boxes suitable for bulk transportation.

Palletizing is the preparation of pallet freights through the stacking of cargo consignments on top of the pallets.

Shipping pellets

Shipping pallets

The process provides easier cargo handling and storage and a safer way of transporting goods in the shipping industry.

What is the Difference Between Package Shipment and Pallet Shipment?

You can use both pallet shipment and package shipment to transport consignments from one point to the other.

While package shipment is ideal for smaller and lighter goods, pallet shipping is suitable for transporting larger and bulkier consignments.

Package Shipment

Standard package shipping is more common and widely used to transport small size goods.

Most courier companies will describe the maximum weight and dimensions of goods considered a single shipment.

Consequently, a package is a single shipment/parcel transported in a sturdy container or cardboard boxes.

You can also put the goods in a well-wrapped suitcase, either placed in an outer container or not as preferred by the carrier, and consider it a single package.

Pallet Shipping

You can transport the same packages in pallets if they are many and bulky rather than shipping them as isolated items.

You can stack the cardboards/boxes on a pallet and transport them as a single shipment.

When you consider pallet shipment for your goods, the boxes will not be separated anywhere a mid-transport and will reach the destination as a whole.

In a scenario where you have bulky consignment, pallet shipment is cheaper and more efficient than standard package shipment.

You can also use pallet shipment for bulkier cargo other than just stacked boxes and card boxes.

How Can You Prepare Your Shipping Pallets for Shipment?

The process of preparing your pallets for shipment begins with selecting the most appropriate shipping pallet for your cargo.

Besides, the desired type of pallet, size, construction material, etc., will depend on your specific shipping needs.

Ensure that the shipping pallet you select is sturdy enough to hold the volume of goods you are shipping and large enough to prevent overhangs.

Choose shipping pallets with closely spaced decks but without protruding nail heads or broken deck boards.

In preference, select a shipping pallet that possesses a four-way forklift entry to ease the loading and offloading process and prevent shipment damage.

Packaging the Shipping Pallets

Choose a packaging system that is compatible with your freight needs.

Your palletizing system should efficiently utilize the available space, optimize weight, and protect your goods against damages.

A well-organized palletizing system eases your carrier’s work, thus facilitating faster and safe delivery of your goods to the final destination.

You can follow the guidelines below to ensure efficient palletizing:

 Plastic shipping pallet

Plastic shipping pallet

Stacking the Boxes/Cargo

If your shipment consists of consignment that you pile up, then consider the following;

  • Use new and strong cartons.
  • Insert adequate amounts of dunnage within the cartons to protect your cargo against damages caused by internal vibration. Ensure that there are no voids and spaces left that can damage the goods. Ensure that your packaging system evenly distributes the weight within each box.
  • Closely secure and seal the cartons appropriately. Use plenty of sealing tapes for optimal protection.
  • To achieve optimal stack strength, align your boxes from corner to corner along a column.
  • Do not rotate layer patterns or interlock
  • Fit all the boxes within the pallet edges
  • Avoid aligning the boxes corner on the gaps between adjacent board deck to prevent imbalance and potential damage by a forklift.
  • Stack the heaviest boxes at the bottom-most to prevent excessive weight on top of other boxes
  • Avoid the creation of pyramids and maintain a flat top layer to avoid damages from top layers
  • Solidify loose boxes and evenly distribute the shipment weight by inserting flat cardboard sheets below the load and throughout the shipment layers.
  • Stabilize your loads by covering your shipment using stretch-wraps. Twist the stretch-wraps for more strength and wrap at least five revolutions in each direction.
  • Should your shipment require extra protection and stability, use nylon straps and bands to tighten the load down through the middle of pallets.
  • Correctly label each piece with the address information, telephone numbers of the consignee and shipper.

What Types of Shipping Pallets Are There?

There are two broad categories of shipping pallets and other smaller subcategories within the two main categories.

The main broad categories of pallets include:

Stringer Pallets

Stringent vs block pallet

 Stringer pallet vs block pallet

These are also known as stringers or two-way pallets.

Stringer’s have two main openings for a forklift on only two different sides and are also referred to as ‘unnotched.’

However, you can also cut a notch into them to allow for a ‘four-way’ entry and fork lifting of the pallets.

The stringer pallets have three or more main parallel wood blocks that support both ends and the middle of the pallet deck’s.

Block Pallets

These are also known as four-way pallets because you can lift them on all four sides using a forklift.

A block pallet has blocks on all sides and the middle of individual edges of the pallet’s upper and lower decks.

The block pallet’s design encompassing parallel and perpendicular stringers makes these pallets stronger and bigger, and more suitable for bulkier shipment.

They are heavier and more durable than stringers and offer superior cargo handling capabilities compared to stringer pallets.

The other subcategories of pallets within the two broad categories include:

 Types of pallets

Types of shipping pallets

  • Single-wing pallets: Either the top or bottom deck pallets extends beyond the stringer’s edge to increase their load capacity.
  • Double face pallets: Have two decks that increase the pallet’s strength and allow you to use either side.
  • Double-wing pallets: All the top and bottom decks extend beyond the stringer’s edge to provide more surface area and support.
  • Flush pallets: Thee edges of flush boards are entirely square and has no overhangs
  • Solid deck pallets: These types of boards have a single sheet of material without gaps in between. It is easier to clean than regular boards.
  • Reversible pallets: The top and bottom parts are identical, making it easy to use any side up.
  • Non-reversible pallets: The top part’s configuration and the bottom parts are dissimilar and thus cannot be used any side up.

Are There ISO Standard Shipping Pallets Sizes?

There are no ISO standard shipping pallet sizes and dimensions. However, ISO recognizes certain pallets’ sizes as according to different shipping regions.

Stringer pallet

Stringer pallets

Block pallet

Block pallet

Why Select Shipping Pallets Over Packaging?

The choice of a particular shipping method will primarily depend on the volume and content of goods you want to ship.

If your consignment comprises a few lightweight goods/packages, you should choose standard packaging and shipment.

Though you can also use shipping pallets, it will be costlier than standard package shipment.

However, in cases where you need to ship bulkier, heavier, or many packages, Pallet shipping provides an efficient, cheaper, and more reliable freight option.

Besides, shipping pallets also offer the following benefits as opposed to standard package shipment.

  • Pellets safely secure goods and protect them from damage and loss as it moves through multiple handling stages.
  • Pallets reduce cargo handling time as it enables faster cargo loading and offloading, speeding up cargo delivery.
  • You can efficiently store your goods in a warehouse or transit when you use pallets because they have an ideal shape that facilitates easier stacking.
  • You can combine several but different goods and ship them as a single entity. Combining goods saves space and time that you would otherwise use to track several packages.
  • Pallets are easier to handle using forklifts, while package boxes can be heavy and difficult to handle.

The heavy boxes may also require more specialized equipment to handle, limiting their acceptance by standard cargo handlers.

  • Pallets also have provision for air circulation for goods that require to ‘breath.’

Pallets are ideal for transportation of such goods as fresh produce, which would otherwise spoil when packages are enclosed.

  • Unlike packages, you can still reuse pallets for several shipping trips and even for supplementary use, like for storage in warehouses after shipping.

What Types of Goods Can You Transport on a Shipping Pallet?

You can ship almost all types of goods using shipping pallets.

The goods can range from food products, building materials, industrial materials, machinery, computers, boxes, stackable items destined for one direction, etc.

What Material Can You Use to Construct Your Shipping Pallets?

You can use diverse types of materials to construct your shipping pallets.

Some of the most common materials for making shipping pallets include:

Wooden Pallet

Wooden shipping pallets are low cost and by far the most widely used in cargo shipping.

You can use the following types of wood to construct your wooden shipping pallets:

Wooden pallets

Wooden pallet

Softwood

They are soft by nature and readily pliable compared to other types of wood.

They are cheaper because they grow faster and therefore readily available.

Softwoods are lighter because they don’t develop denser stems as hardwood and are thus easier to manage.

Arguably, using softwood for pallet construction reduces deforestation compared to using hardwood due to faster growth.

However, pallets made from softwoods also have drawbacks.

Notably, they have limited durability due to lower density, making them vulnerable to splinters and warps.

Softwood also has a lower weight capacity due to lower material density.

As a result, you will have to use more wood when constructing pallets to compensate for the low density.

Pine and oak are some of the most commonly used softwoods for the fabrication of pallets.

Hardwood

You will get hardwood from angiosperms. They take more extended periods to grow and are thus more expensive than softwoods.

Due to higher costs, they are less used in the construction of shipping pallets compared to softwood.

The key benefits of hardwood are durability and strength, which arise from the higher density. However, hardwood is expensive, environmentally less sustainable, and bulky.

Heavy pallets are not easy to handle and often result in higher wear and tear of warehouse machinery.

Technical Wood

It is a compressed wood that offers an ideal alternative to both soft and hardwoods.

It is less susceptible to decay and rot over time and henceforth long-lasting.

Plastics Pallets

Plastic pallet

Plastic pallet

You can use either Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), or polyethylene (PE) to construct your pallets.

However, high-density polyethylene offers the best material for making a high-quality plastic pallet.

Technically, plastic pallets are a better substitute for wooden pallets because of the following superior qualities:

  • Non-porous thus does not absorb chemical spills and moisture
  • Easier to clean hence ideal for foodstuff
  • Not susceptible to pest attack
  • More consistent and durable than wooden pallets

Paper/Cardboard shipping pallets

Also known as corrugated shipping pallets, these pallets constitute corrugated paper such as boxes.

They have a laminate layer that makes them water-resistant.

Corrugated pallets have the lightest weight and are relatively cheaper too.

The manufacturing process follows the layering of boxes across different axes to give to achieve the desired strength.

When planned well, your cardboard pallets can hold up to four-time the weight held by a wooden pallet.

The more layers, the higher the cardboard strength.

However, these pallets are more susceptible to moisture or temperature levels and have a weight limit.

Metal Pallets

Metal pallet

 Metal pallet

You can also construct metal pallets using steel, aluminum, or any other suitable metal and its alloys.

Metal pallets are the most robust and most durable of all pallets but also the most expensive.

Using metal pallets is only feasible when you are constantly shipping heavy loads for an extended period, thus the need for reusability.

Metal pallets are also resistant to pest attack and are easy to clean since the metals’ surface does not easily attract dirt.

How Does the Different Pallet Materials Compare?

Wood pallets are less expensive and can hold more weight compared to plastics and cardboard pallets.

However, they are susceptible to attack by pests, molds, and rot and, therefore, less durable.

Plastics pallets are about ten times more expensive than wood pallets, more durable, and not susceptible to moisture and temperature fluctuations.

They are also easy to clean and not susceptible to pests, molds, and rot.

Also, they have a relatively low weight compared to wood pallets and can be recycled.

Cardboard pallets are the cheapest, ideal for a one-off use, and highly sensitive to fluctuating moisture and temperature.

They are lightweight and completely recyclable.

What Factors Should You Consider When Selecting a Shipping Pallet?

You should consider the following factors when selecting the type of shipping pallet based on construction material.

Types of Goods

The type of products you will be shipping is a primary consideration when selecting a pallet.

The type and nature of goods will help you settle for a specific type of pallet for shipping your goods.

For instance, plastic pallets are more suitable for transporting beverage and food products.

Packaging Dimension

The width, height, and length of the products you intend to ship will help you determine the ideal size of a pallet to choose from.

Frequency of Use

Metal and plastic pallets are more durable and ideal for frequent shipment operations that will require you to reuse your pallets more often.

In case of a one-time shipment, you can consider using reconditioned wood pallets because they are cheaper to purchase and easier to dispose of.

Shipping Conditions

The storage and transportation conditions and temperatures are critical when deciding on the material of choice to fabricate your pallets.

Plastic and metal pallets are resistant to fluctuating moisture and temperature levels, while paper and wooden pallets are highly susceptible.

Shipping Destination

Some countries require export goods using pallets that comply with ISPM15 standards.

Under such scenarios, wooden pallets come in handy.

Budget

Budgeting for maximum profit means that you have to minimize all the transportation costs and maximize profit.

Spending less on pallets with a limited life-cycle will be costly in the long run, while investing in expensive pallets for a one-off shipment is also expensive.

How Long Can a Shipping Pallet Last?

The life cycle of pallets varies widely depending on numerous variables like materials used, shipment conditions, carrier’s policies, etc.

Whereas some companies’ policies advocate for using pallets only once, others provide room for refurbishment and reuse of old pallets.

Some pallets, such as paper pallets, are naturally designed for a one-off shipment, while plastics and metal pallets will last several trips.

Wooden pallets can make two or more trips or last for several months or even years, depending on how well you manage them.

Plastics can last for five or more years with good management, while metal pallets can last forever when well taken care of.

How High Can You Stack Your Pallets?

Stacked plastic pallet

Stacked plastic pallet

You should maintain a safe stack height for your pallets to avoid unnecessary workplace accidents.

Though the regulatory stack heights may vary from one country to another, a general rule of thumb keeps the stack height below 60 inches.

Similarly, stacking the heavier pallets at the bottom and the lighter ones at the top will also help you reduce the risks of workplace injuries.

Ensure that your pallets are free of hanging materials on their sides.

What Factors Affect the Weight That a Single Pallet Can Contain?

The load capacity of a pallet depends on its static weight capacity and dynamic load capacity.

The static load capacity is the weight a pallet can hold when stationary and flat.

On the other hand, dynamic load capacity refers to the weight a pallet can hold when a forklift or jack is lifting it.

The total load capacity is not equal between all pallets and therefore vary to the following factors:

  • Type of material used to construct the pallet
  • Conditions of the working environment
  • Pallet’s specific application
  • Thickness of the material used to construct the pallet
  • Pallets size and dimensions
  • Type of pallet used

How Many Cartons Will Fit in Your Pallets?

Carton on wooden pallet

Carton on a wooden pallet

The number of cartons that can fit on a single pallet can significantly vary from one shipment to the other and one product to the other.

Besides, the number of boxes capable of fitting in a single pallet will therefore depend on:

  • Size and dimensions of your pallet
  • Size and dimension of the boxes
  • Height of your pallet stacks
  • The stacking method you use

What Do You Need to Protect Your Shipment Pallets from Damage?

You can use the following techniques to secure your palletized goods and protect them from getting damaged while on transit.

Use a Load Protector

Use a top to bottom load protector to secure your shipment.

It constitutes several layers of heavy paperboards or corrugated fiberboards.

Load protectors are instrumental and can safely secure your shipment by evenly distributing the shipment weight that is stackable on each other.

Use Edge/Corner Boards

Using a corner board will help you prevent corner edge damage, increase your vertical stack strength, and stabilize your load.

For effectiveness, extend the corner boards to all corners and full height and length of the load.

Stretch Wrappings

You can effectively stabilize all pieces of your shipment by wrapping them together with a stretch wrap.

The stretch wraps have to cover the pallets together with the load to stabilize them as a unit firmly.

Ensure that the stretch wraps capture the pallets at the bottom layers and are tight enough to prevent load shifting.

Also, ensure that you twist the stretch wraps like a rope to provide more strength and enhanced stability.

Strapping and Banding

Strapping or bandings will safely secure all the shipment pieces together in the pallet, thus preventing them from separating from the rest of the load.

You might need to run the strapping underneath the board’s top deck to draw them tightly onto the load.

What Are the Phytosanitary Requirements for Using Wood Panels?

Wood pallets must conform to the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication number 15 (ISPM15).

Some countries will require you to conform to the treatments and markings outlined in the standards before accepting your shipment.

Consequently, you can conform to these standards by adhering to the following:

Debarking

You have to construct your wood pallets using debarked wood.

The small pieces and separated barks can only remain under the following conditions:

  • The width is less than 3 cm
  • The width is greater than 3 cm, but the total surface area of an individual piece less than 50cm3

Heat Treatment

You must subject the wood pallets to heat treatment through a special kiln.

You should heat the materials until the minimum core temperatures reach 56°C for 30 consecutive minutes.

Heat treating kills most insect pests’ larvae and cells and spores of wood pathogenic bacteria and fungi.

Fumigation

You can also fumigate the wood pallets using a suitable chemical to manage insect pests and diseases of timber.

Also, you can use either methyl bromide or sulphuryl fluoride for fumigation.

You should ensure that the wood pallets have the ISMP15 compliance stamp or brand.

The stamp must include the IPPC certification symbol, the country’s ISO code where the wood was treated, a unique certification number, and the treatment abbreviation.

What Test Should You Carry Out On Wooden Shipping Pallets?

You can conduct the following wood-based composite tests for woods used in making shipping pallets:

  • 24-hour composite block soak test. This test determines the average percentage and standard deviations of dimensional change and the water-weight gain.
  • The pallet block side compression test helps determine the peak load at failure
  • A nail insertion force test. The test determines the maximum force required for nail insertion.
  • Nail withdrawal force test to determine the maximum force needed for removal of each nail.

At What Time of the Year Should You Consider Purchasing a Shipping Pallet?

You should arrange to buy your pallets off-shipping seasons, usually between spring and summer or the first two quarters of the year.

The prices significantly fluctuate during the third and fourth quarters of the year due to increased shipments just before the holidays.

During the holiday rush, the demand for pallets is usually higher than the supply, making pallets very expensive.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Shipping Pallets?

The cost of a shipping pallet depends on the following factors:

  • Material of construction
  • Time of the year you are making the purchase, i.e., offseason or shipping season.
  • Size and dimension of the pallet
  • The urgency of the need
  • Location

Are There Differences in Regional Pallet Practices?

Generally, acceptable pallet management practices are standard across all regions.

However, there are slight differences in pallet sizes, requirements for ISPM15 compliance, certification for shipment, allowable pallet stack height, etc.

For instance, the USA’s standard pallet size is 48 × 40 inches, while Europe and other parts of the world mainly prefer 31.5 x 47.2 x 5.7 inches.

What Factors Must You Consider When Purchasing Your Shipping Pallets?

Purchasing the correct type of shipping pallet is fundamental to realize the optimal cost-benefit ratio in favor of your business.

The following considerations are beneficial when it comes to choosing the correct type of shipping pallets.

· Shipping Destination

Shipping pallets for overseas transit require more stringent cleaning than shipping pallets for local transportation.

You can use heat-treatment or chemical treatment, or both to protect your pallets against pests, molds, and rot.

The destination might also dictate whether you will require to make multiple trips or a one-way trip. You can use high-quality, new pallets if you make several trips and recycled pallets if you only need to make a one-way trip.

· Product Weight

The pallets’ overall weight is important specifically because it determines whether it will support the entire product weight.

Whereas plastic pallets are more weather-resistant, durable, clean, and easy to stack, they are also more expensive and costly.

On the other hand, block-style wooden pallets are ideal for heavier materials among the wooden pallets.

· Life Expectancy

Your pallet’s life expectancy directly determines the number of trips you can make using similar pallets and the corresponding investment worthy of the pallets.

You should ask yourself whether the pallets of choice can withstand extreme handling and shipping conditions.

You also need to consider whether your shipping program requires frequent or sporadic use of the pallets or, perhaps, just once.

Generally, plastic pallets last longer than wooden pallets, and for this reason alone have seen a steady rise in their adoption in the shipping business.

· Compatibility with Available Equipment

The choice of the desired pallet must fit in with the automation system employed in your shipping business.

You have to consider aspects such as the presence and type of conveyor belts, forklifts, pallet jacks, etc., and ensure that they are compatible with your machines.

Desired Pallet Size

The size of a pallet is one of the critical considerations when selecting a pallet.

Choosing a huge pallet will be a wastage while a smaller pallet will not accommodate all your products.

Ensure that you conduct your homework well before buying a pallet since they come in a wide variety of dimensions.

· Purchase Price

The cost of the pallet is a key consideration when choosing a pallet.

As a business, your priority is making profits, and settling for a pallet that will deliver the highest yield is desirable.

For a one-way shipment, cheaper pallets are reasonable for regular shipment, more expansive, and quality pallets are more profitable.

· ISMP15 Compliance

ISMP15 compliance applies to wooden pallets. Some countries demand that your pallets adhere to the requirements of ISMP15 standards.

ISMP15 refers to International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Number 15.

The standards require all wooden pallets and other wooden packaging materials to go through heat treatment or fumigated before shipment.

ISMP15 standards enforcement helps minimize the spread of insect pests and pathogens of timber to new areas.

Always ensure that the timber pallets you are purchasing have an ISMP15 compliance stamp.

· Supplier

Hiring a supplier is also a key consideration when sourcing for your pallets.

Your pallet supplier should be capable of meeting all the necessary total pallet management needs as dictated by your business from time to time.

Also, you may require unplanned large quantities of pallets from time to time.

Your supplier should be capable of meeting the demand within a very tight window/schedule without failure.

Your pallet providers should also come in handy in managing your pallet inventory to caution you against potential future shortages.

Also, research pricing from the different suppliers ensures that you are getting the best deal for your money.

Though time-consuming, the alternative of settling for the wrong supplier can be disastrous and costly to your business’s operations and total health.

What eco-friendly Shipping Pallet Practices Are There?

You can implement pallet use practices that have minimal effect on the environment. They include:

  • Use of durable pallets to reduce the number of waste pallets ending up in landfills
  • Encouraging the reuse of pallets helps reduce wastes as well as deforestation
  • Using recycled pallets to reduce the demand for new wooden materials
  • Recycling plastic pallets to reduce the disposal of plastics to the environment
  • Using softwood pallets in-place of hardwoods
  • Producing combo palates made up of a mixture of new and old pallets
  • Using less material to construct pallets
  • Repairing damaged pallets
  • Construction of lightweight pallets.

What Are the Advantages of a Plastic Shipping Pallet?

 Plastic pallet

Plastic pallet

Plastic pallets possess the following superior features and benefits.

  • They are light in weight thus easier to transport
  • Available in a wide variety of designs
  • More hygienic and easier to clean
  • More durable than plastic and cardboard pallets
  • Reusable for several shipment trips
  • Does not suffer attack from pests, pathogens, rot or absorb moisture
  • Compatible with the majority of commonly used chemicals, cleaning agents, and solvents.
  • Compatible with most automated processes.
  • Safer to handle compared to wooden pallets.
  • You can recycle them

What Are the Advantages of Using Metal Shipping Pallets?

Metal pellet

 Metal pallet

Metal pallets have the following benefits.

  • Have the most extended service life
  • Easy to clean and sterilize
  • You can use it for heavier loads
  • Does not suffer from custom clearance issues
  • Resistant to fluctuating moisture and temperature levels as well as other corrosive agents.
  • Resistant to pest attack and microbial growth
  • Recyclable

What Maintenance Practices Should You Consider for Wood Shipping Pallets

You should always maintain your wooden pallets by adhering to the following practices.

Treatments

Ensure that you treat the wooden pallets through heat treatment or chemical fumigation to eliminate insect pests and microbial spores or growth.

Preventing Mold Growth

You can eliminate mold from the surface of wood through periodical bleaching.

You can also use copper-based fungicides and chlorothalonil based fungicides to kill the mold.

Remove any rotten wood that propagates the proliferation of mold spores.

Also, keep the wood’s moisture content below 20%.

Prevention of Pallet Decay

Reduce the moisture level and eliminate sources of food.

You can also use commercial pressure impregnated lumbers that are either water- or salt borne to manufacture your wooden pallet.

Eliminate Odor

Spray deodorant on your wooden pallets to avoid contamination of the product with an undesirable smell.

Conducive Operating Conditions

Ensure that the place where the wooden pallets are going to stay while on transit is dry and has a stable temperature to prevent faster deterioration.

Repair

Schedule frequent inspection of damaged pallets and repair appropriately.

Do not use broken pallets because they will damage your products and cause severe injuries to your employee.

Drying the Pallets

Ensure that you maintain your pallets’ moisture level to below 20% to avoid eroding the metal products.

You can also seal your pallets using a moisture barrier or plastic film for protection.

Can You Clean a Shipping Pallet?

Yes, you can clean your shipping pallets.

Depending on your operations, your pallets can get exposed to harmful bacteria, fungi, dust, dirt, chemicals, etc., which can potentially spoil your products.

Pallet cleaning and acceptable sanitary practices are specifically more stringent for the transportation of food, beverage, and medical supplies.

You can follow these general steps when cleaning your shipping pallets:

  • Wear gloves and appropriate protective clothing to protect yourself against nails, dust, and other harmful contaminants.
  • Remove the protruding fasteners and nails that pose a risk of injury.
  • Check if the pallets are discolored. Discoloration may be an indication of chemical exposure during the last shipment.

You should discard the pallet if you are not sure of the source of discoloration.

  • Check if the pallets are marked. Pallets marked with HT (heat-treated), DB (debarked), EPAL (European Pallet Association Logo), and KD (Kiln Dried) are likely to be safer. However, ensure that you clean the pallets again before further use.

You should note that the process of cleaning wood pallets and plastic pallets might slightly differ.

Whereas wood pallets are porous and more vulnerable to damage by chemicals and water, plastic pallets are easier to clean since they are partially inert.

Also, wood pallets will absorb any food, spills, or moisture that it contacts, while plastic won’t absorb any of these materials.

How can You Make Your Wood Pallet Fire Resistant?

Yes.

You can coat your wooden pallets with a flame retardant material or buy a pressure treated/ flame retardant lumber and use it to manufacture your pallets.

How Can You Order for a Shipping Pallet?

You can place an order for your shipping pallets provided you have information on the following:

  • The dimension of the products to be transported
  • Approximate weight of products to be transported
  • Any sanitary considerations for the pallets and products to be transported
  • Requirements of your local regulatory bodies
  • Collection and delivery address. Also, include telephone or mobile numbers.

How Should You Stack Your Shipping Pallets?

Correct packet stacking is mandatory for optimal utilization of space and workspace safety.

Incorrect pallet stacking will cause the pallets to fall and destroy the products or cause severe injuries to your employees.

Such accidents are very costly in terms of compensations and hospital bills.

The following steps will help you eliminate the risks of workplace injuries due to poor pallet stacking:

Adhere to Specifications

Stack your pallets according to the detailed specifications of each group.

Though the sizes and dimensions might be universally similar, individual manufacturers produce pallets that slightly vary in designs and styles.

Group and stack your pallets to size and material.

For instance, stack wood, plastic, and metal pallets separately.

Optimal Height

Stacking height can fluctuate from one store to the other depending on your pallets’ contents and the safety equipment you are using to move your pallets.

While some stores may require that you do not exceed shoulder height for manually handled pallets, automated stores will provide more room for stacking.

Either way, ensure that you do not exceed the legally allowed maximum height.

Also, make sure that the stacked pallets are stable and not vulnerable to toppling over.

Removal of Damaged Pallets

Avoid using shipping pallets with defects such as visible nail heads, broken decks, etc.

Ensure that any pallet you intend of reusing is safe and will not let the contents of your products spill over or cause harm to employees handling them.

Pallet Alignment

Always make sure that you align your pallets evenly and squarely for ease of transportation.

Avoid overhangs and wrap them for enhanced stability and strength.

How Can You Handle the Shipping Pallets?

Safe handling of pallets is an essential process of any progressive product shipping locally and overseas.

Though vital, pallets can also be very dangerous to you and your employees when handled carelessly.

The main factors include:

Correct Use

Correct use of pallets is a mandatory prerequisite for ultimate returns on your business.

The tips below are vital if you are to ensure the correct way of safely using pallets.

  • Maintain a balanced and stable pallet when loading to reduce pressure on vulnerable sections.
  • Store your pallets on flat surfaces below shoulder height.
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing and eye goggles when handling pallets.
  • Ask for help when you want to lift heavy pallets manually.
  • Equip your facility with appropriate first-aid resources to help you manage pallet inflicted injuries swiftly.

Avoid the following practices to reduce risks of pallet damages or injury to personnel.

  • Avoid lifting people using pallets
  • Do not walk on pallets to prevent getting sprained knee and uncle.
  • Avoid end on end storage of empty pallets
  • Do not use damaged pallets.

Jacks and Forklifts

Jacks and forklifts are fundamental equipment workplace for easy and safe placement of pallets into storage places.

However, these machines also require specialized considerations as follows.

  • Wear appropriate safety gear before handling the machinery
  • Keep forks to lower positions while in motion
  • Do not overload the forklifts to avoid tip-overs. Also, keep the load centered.
  • Be careful when storing pallets on pallet racks to avoid damaging them.
  • Ensure that you train your employees on machine handling. Only allow trained and certified employees to handle machinery to avoid workplace injuries, hefty fines, and death.

Routine Inspection

Schedule regular inspection of pallets for defects because they are prone to wear and tear just like any other equipment.

Be on the lookout for the following when conducting an inspection:

  • Cracks, weaknesses, loose nails, and splinters
  • Remove the damaged pallets and repair them or completely discard them.
  • Control rodents and bugs for pallets that will remain unused for a longer period.
  • Revisit the employs practice and pallet use at least once annually.

Refresher Courses

Ensure that you train all your employees, even for the things that seem like common sense. Your workplace is only as safe as your least trained employees.

You can ensure this through:

  • Design refresher courses for beginners and existing employees on the safe handling of pallets.
  • Seek the advice of professional occupational health and safety personnel to advise on the best techniques.
  • Put measures in place to ensure that your employees are receiving adequate supervision and observing all standards.

What Safety Measures Must You Consider When Loading and Offloading Shipping Pallets?

Workplace accidents can have significant adverse effects on the health of your workers as well as your business.

As an employer, you have to ensure that you provide the most secure and risk-free working environment as practicable.

You should enforce the tips below to ensure that your employees safely manage the shipping pallets during loading and offloading.

Manual Loading of Pallets

You should avoid adopting frequent awkward postures such as twisting and bending.

Such postures can cause severe injuries on your knees, lower backs, and shoulders.

Repeated lifting moderate weight pallets will cause gradual wear and tear with an eventual deterioration of the stressed areas.

Similarly, you can also suffer instant injuries from lifting very heavy objects in an awkward posture.

You should put in place safer work systems that ensure that you avoid such unnecessary injuries risk to your employee’s life.

Safer systems will save you thousands of dollars that would otherwise go into compensation and health covers.

Pallet rings and Scissor Lifts

Using a scissor lift with a pallet ring turntable for loading and offloading offers great business productivity and efficiency while simultaneously reducing injury risks.

The scissor lift allows you to adjust the pallet level and handle the objects at a conveniently safe waist height.

On the other hand, a pallet turntable enables you to maintain the pallet load point as close as possible, thus eliminating the need to stretch for reach across the pallet.

It also reduces the tripping risks while carrying a pallet load since you won’t have to load and unload the pallets while walking around the pallet.

Safety Skirts

Use safety skirts alongside scissor lifts to prevent severe injuries because they can create hazardous crushing and shearing spaces.

Safety skirts are important for the following reasons:

  • Provision of physical barrier between the moving parts of the machine and operators. Henceforth, it prevents accidental pinching of the operator’s hands, clothes, or feet by the scissor’s lift.
  • It prevents the load from crushing when the table is lowering.
  • It prevents dust, water, dirt, and other foreign materials from contaminating the scissor lift mechanism.

Vacuum Lifters

Using a vacuum lifter helps reduce the amount of force needed to handle an item.

It also reduces the awkward and risky postures when picking up materials from the bottom, center, or top of the pallets.

Though the vacuum lifters lower the risk of manual handling, they do not eliminate them.

Remove pallets from full lifters using appropriate load-shifting equipment.

Safe Space

Place your shipping pallets one meter from the location where you intend to move your objects to or from.

Sufficient distance allows the operators to turn and step with the objects they carry without making twists that can cause back injuries.

Handling Items of Height

Items higher than shoulder height are more likely to cause shoulder injuries during pallet loading and unloading.

You should consider reducing the maximum pallet height following the tips below:

  • Reduce product layers stacked on the pallet.
  • Use lower profile lifters
  • Limit the maximum pallet stack height for your suppliers.
  • Provide a stand-on platform for your workers
  • Recess and adjust the scissor lifters to fit below the floor level

Always ensure that your workers do not handle overhead products for an extended time.

Training

Train all your employees who operate machinery or work near it on the appropriate equipment handling and safe operations.

Other safety precautions include:

  • You should adhere to the recommended maximum weight limits without overloading the equipment.
  • Enforce appropriate traffic management systems for pedestrians and load-shifting equipment to prevent lifts and people/operators’ coalition.
  • Enforce appropriate equipment and machinery maintenance procedures as instructed by the manufacturer instruction.

 Black plastic pallet

Figure 14 Black plastic pallet

How Can You Increase the Efficiency of Your Shipping Pallets?

When buying pallets, you need to ensure that the services delivered will be proportional to investment factored in.

You can consider the steps below to realize optimal pallet potential and profit.

·         Material of Construction

Choose a pallet that has been fabricated using very strong materials.

Investing in strong and heavy-duty pallets is a smart consideration when considering reusing your shipping pallets from several shipments.

Even though you will have to pay more for the initial purchasing price, their reusability results in long-term cost savings.

The heavy-duty pallet can withstand bending and warping, thus delivering maximum mileage for your financial outlay.

For this reason, plastic pallets are way more popular than wood pallets because they can last longer.

They are also more reliable for shipping goods abroad as they are less likely to be held up in customs abroad like wood pallets.

·         Repairs

Repairing damaged shipping pallets offers you the opportunity to save on cash that you would otherwise use in purchasing new pallets.

Repairing your shipping pallets also avoids excessive environmental pollution by having your pallets ending up in landfills.

Involving professional and experienced pallet suppliers will significantly reduce the cost of repairing your pallets compared to in-house repairs.

It also saves you the hassles and cost of adhering to occupational health and safety regulations associated with the in-house repair of shipping pallets.

·         Cash in

Do not through away your used pallets. Instead, consider selling them to your pallet manufacturer for cash.

Cash in helps you save on the cost of disposal, recycling and adds you more money at the same time.

·         Alternative Use

You can reuse the used shipping pallets for some other economic or decorative functions instead of disposing them into landfills.

For instance, you can use them to replace your wooden floor or construct other structures such as a coffee table, seats, retail shelves, shoe racks, etc.

With a little creativity and imagination, you can develop lots of decorative structures made of shipping pallets that you can even sell for cash.

Why Should You Consider Pallet Pooling?

Pallet pooling is the renting or leasing of pallets from a shared pool instead of buying and managing your own pallet supply.

The pallet pooling company you have contracted will ensure that they supply you with good and ready use pallets.

They also collect the used pallets and transport them back to your production site or to other companies that are also leasing pallets.

Pallet pooling eliminates the need to manage your own pallet supply.

Thus reducing the complexities and time of operations and the total business cost.

The following are the advantages of pooling shipping pallets.

·         Saves Time

Procuring, managing, recovering, and sorting damaged shipping pallets is complex and time-consuming.

Similarly, arranging the pallets appropriately for transportation or storage is also time-consuming and will distract you from your core businesses.

·         Reducing the Cost of Operating

Managing your shipping pallets in-house equates to operating two parallel businesses and thus also increases the cost of labor and transportation.

Furthermore, your shipping pallets will even compete with your products for transport and storage.

Engaging the services of a pallet pooling company will save you additional labor, transportation, and storage costs.

Pallet pulling does away with loads and dead legs, remaining with pallets only and hence, also remaining with cost per pallet only.

Consequently, you will save a significant amount of money and experience substantial returns on investments.

 What Types of Plastic Can You Use to Fabricate Your Shipping Pallets?

Plastic pallets offer superior shipping stability and cost-effectiveness over time compared to the more widely used wood pallets.

There are different types of plastics that you can use to fabricate your shipping pallets.

The type of plastic you select for manufacturing your pallet will determine how you will use it, whether you can reuse it, and the possibility of recycling it.

Plastics constitute synthetic polymers, which are made up of several monomers that are bonded together.

There are two broad classes of polymers that you can use to fabricate your plastic shipping pallets.

They include:

Thermosets

This plastics group will permanently settle into the desired form once you melt them and set them to cool.

You can only melt them once and will not soften upon reheating.

Thermosets have a very high ignition point making them ideal for applications requiring fire retardant materials/ low fire risk materials.

However, the high ignition point also makes the material very difficult to recycle.

Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics are the most preferred choice of a polymer for fabricating shipping pallets because they readily soften when you reheat them.

The ease of recyclability makes thermoplastic ideal for use in fabricating shipping pallets. Thermoplastics are sustainable, economical, and environmentally friendly than thermosets that would otherwise easily end up in garbage once damaged.

You can use the following types of thermoplastics to fabricate your shipping pallets.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is a widely used thermoplastic in constructing plastic equipment for household use and the healthcare industry.

The tensile strength of PVC is excellent.

It also has a tough and very dense structure.

You can also easily modify its properties as desired by adding a different mix of chemicals to end up with either a flexible or rigid PVC.

You should avoid using PVC shipping pallets in cold chain operations because it readily brittles at low temperatures.

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene is a very simple thermoplastic and the most widely used plastic world over.

The properties of PE significantly depend on the density of the material.

You can use low-density polyethylene (LDPE) to manufacture laboratory tubing and plastic bags.

On the other hand, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to fabricate almost any plastic material.

You can use HDPE to manufacture high quality and strong shipping pallets stable at all temperatures and meet the cradle-to-cradle recyclability.

A shipping pallet constructed using HDPE is the most versatile of the tree thermoplastics and hence will make a standard pallet that is compatible with nearly all industries.

Furthermore, you can mix PE of different densities and recycle them together to create a product with new features.

Polyethylene plastics have a more comprehensive range of chemicals and solvent compatibility and prefer to be used in shipping food commodities.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

You can use ABS to fabricate shipping pallets and other wide variety of equipment ranging from keyboards to car bumpers.

The main advantage of ABS is its high strength.

Though recyclable, ABS requires specialized recycling machinery, limiting its reuse after damage in local stores that lack the specialized recycling equipment.

ABS is not safe for food contact, and it will also readily release toxic fumes upon ignition.

Can you Reuse Shipping Pallets?

Yes, you can reuse all shipping pallets other than paper pallets, provided you maintain them well.

Who are the Top 20 Shipping Pallets Manufacturers in China?

China has numerous shipping pallet manufacturers that produce quality products for the export world over.

Some of the leading pallets manufacturers in China:

  • Weepallet
  • Chep pallets
  • Shandong Liyang Plastic Molding Co., Ltd.
  • Enlightening Pallet Industry Co., Ltd.
  • Jiangsu Xuansheng Plastic Technology Co., Ltd
  • NANJING TOCO WAREHOUSE EQUIPMENT CO., LTD.
  • Qingdao Huading Industry Co., Ltd.
  • Qingdao King Tai Plastic Industry Co., Ltd
  • Brilliance General Equipment Co., Ltd
  • Shandong Enming Building Materials Co., Ltd
  • Haining Unitarp Coated Fabric and Products Co., Ltd
  • SINOTOP PACKAGING MACHINERY CO., LTD
  • Kunshan Deco POP Display Co., Ltd
  • Longxiang Group Limited
  • Enlightening Pallet Industry Co., Ltd
  • Jiangyin Qianding Imp. & Exp. Trade Co., Ltd
  • Jiangxi JahooPak Co., Ltd.
  • Longxiang Group Limited
  • XYX METAL CO., LTD.
  • Suzhou Highbright Store Fixtures Co., Ltd
  • Jiangsu Xuansheng Plastic Technology Co., Lt

Whether you want to load or unload cargo, BanSar will help you choose the best shipping pallets.

Contact us today for all your cargo handling and freight forwarding needs in China.

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