Pallets may seem like a big step up in your production plans, but they can arrive at your door sooner than you think, especially when you place packaging orders.
My first order needing a pallet was for around 30 cases of biscuits. It wasn’t a huge order, and certainly nothing to fill a pallet, but the customer was collating products into hampers, so every order had to be transported on a pallet for temporary storage by a freight forwarder. Only after all the hamper products had arrived at the forwarders’ storage facility, were they all delivered together to the customer. This meant I had to arrange a pallet collection – and source a pallet.
There are lots of pallet sellers, but there are also lots of variations in pallet types, materials, construction and sizes. You’ll want to use the most common type which is acceptable to the most hauliers. If you don’t, you may have your order rejected at the point of collection, but still receive a bill and have a late delivery.
The most common pallet type and sizes are below. Stick with these and you won’t go far wrong:
|Max Weight (KGs)||Size (m)||Height (m)|
|Quarter Pallet Skid*||250||1.2×1.2||0.6|
Stringer or Block
Don’t be put off by pallet jargon, there are dozens of pallet types, materials and ways to construct them, but the most common two in wooden pallets are Stringer and Block. They have different construction methods but the important part is their access for forklift trucks.
Stringer pallets can only be accessed from two sides, ideal for on and off lorries, but a pain for turning and wrapping in storage facilities.
Block pallets hold more weight and can be accessed for all sides, making them the most versatile pallet.
Eco or Paper Pallets, are the European standard size pallet at 1.2m x 0.8m. Note, most pallet sizes are given in millimetres, i.e. 1200×800.
These are sturdy pallets and used all over mainland Europe. In the UK, the standard size is 1200×1000.
GMA (now CBA) Pallets
Pallets in the USA are typically 48″x40″ and known as GMA pallets. Other common sizes are 42″x42″ and 48″x48″.
Never under estimate the importance of good pallet wrapping. If you know anyone who works in a warehouse or drives a lorry and does pallet wrapping, ask them for a 5 minute lesson. It could save you hours and a small fortune in avoiding destroyed product.
Pallet wrapping can be done by hand or machine. A roll of pallet wrap isn’t expensive but it’s essential in keeping your boxes on the pallet. It’s basically a big roll of clingfilm. The two most important things to remember are:
- You’re wrapping the boxes ONTO the pallet, not wrapping boxes which are sitting on a pallet. Start by trapping the wrap under your products on the corner of the pallet, then wrap the boxes.
- Keep the wrap tight and the boxes inside the dimensions of the pallet. If your boxes can move around, or over hang the pallet even a few millimetres, another pallet, a lorry door, a shelving upright or a set of forklift prongs will put them back into place. This never turns out well for biscuits.
If your pallet may be outside for any length of time, you’ll also want to ensure the pallet is fully covered, to keep water out.
This is a handy video on securely wrapping a pallet: