What You Need to Know About Shipping Pallets
Pallets are used in all types of freight shipping and play an important part in packaging items safely and securely when shipping LTL. Pallets are flat structures often made of wood or sometimes plastic, metal, or composite, characterized by a raised platform, called a deck, on which items are stacked together for shipping. Beneath the raised deck (upper deck) is a gap, then the support boards (lower deck) of the pallet, used to facilitate the movement of the pallet by a forklift or pallet jack.
Types of Pallets
While there are a variety of pallet types, the two most commonly found in freight shipping are the stringer pallet and the block pallet.
Stringer Pallet – Stringer pallets, also known as two-way pallets, have three long boards (stringers) that support the two ends and the middle of the upper deck and lower support boards of the pallet. Stringer pallets are known as two-way pallets because equipment can only pick them up from two opposite sides.
Block Pallet – Block pallets have a block on each side and in the middle of each edge between the upper deck and lower support boards. Because this structure leaves spaces on all four sides for the forks of a forklift or pallet jack, block pallets are known as four-way pallets.
Other specialized types of pallets include solid deck pallets, which include a single solid board with no gaps for their top deck, double face pallet, which have full decks on both the top and bottom of the pallet; and double wing pallets, which have top and bottom deck boards that extend beyond the support stringers. Each of these pallets’ unique designs fulfills the needs of different kinds of shipments.
The three most common sizes of pallets are:
48” x 40”
42” x 42”
48” x 48”
Most standard pallets weigh between 30-50 lbs, though depending on their material and load-bearing capacity, some can weigh as much as 70 lbs, and most are about 6” tall. A standard pallet can hold up to 4,600 lbs.
When to Use Pallets
Although pallets add weight to your overall shipment, they provide several distinct advantages over opting to ship without them, particularly when it comes to LTL shipping.
- Pallets protect shipments from damage or loss by keeping them stacked and wrapped securely. This is especially crucial when shipping LTL, where a shipment may be loaded and unloaded several times throughout its journey.
- Pallets enable easier and faster loading and unloading, improving transit times.
- Standard sizes and shapes of pallets allow for them to be easily stacked and organized, maximizing warehouse storage space and trailer space configurations.
- By combining different items onto a single pallet, you can save space and avoid having to track multiple shipments.
- When a shipment is palletized, drivers and warehouse workers can load, unload, and move it using forklifts, pallet jacks, and other handling equipment rather than shifting boxes or cartons by hand.
Pallets are great tools in LTL shipping that allow the shipper to package shipments more securely, the carrier to load and unload more easily, the warehouse to store more efficiently, and the consignee to receive the shipment more quickly. Pallets are cheap, readily available, and easy to store. Consider using a pallet for your next LTL shipment to transport your items securely and efficiently.