What is a wooden pallet?
The pallet is a flat structure used for transporting freight. Wooden pallets are simply platforms of a standard pallet size that are the most common type of packaging in freight shipping. There are different types of pallets, but they are mostly made of either wood or plastic. The shipper usually secures or ties the freight to the pallet and then stacks it into a trailer.
Shippers use pallets to attach and secure already packaged freight. This way, the carrier can load a full trailer and avoid moving or damaging any cargo on the truck. Pallets are preferred for most shipments, no matter if this is a full truckload or less than truckload shipping mode. If you do not plan to use shipping pallets, make sure to discuss packaging requirements with the shipping company or a carrier.
Standard pallet size & dimensions
The standard pallet size typically considered is 48″ x 40″. These pallets are often referred to as GMA (The Grocery Manufacturers Association) pallets because they are most commonly used for the consumer packaged goods industry. Nearly one-third of pallets produced in the U.S. each year are GMA pallets. These are the three most popular standard pallet dimensions:
- 48″ X 40″
- 42″ X 42″
- 48″ X 48″
How much does a pallet weigh?
The weight of an average 48” x 40” wooden pallet ranges somewhere between 33 lbs and 48 lbs. Most often, the average pallet weighs nearly 30 lbs, but this number can reach up to 70 lbs, depending on many factors like the material, moisture level, etc.
Types of shipping pallets
There are many different types of pallets in terms of size, materials, and construction. Speaking of material, pallets are most often made of wood and plastic but can also be made of pressed wood, metal, etc. Wooden pallets are constructed in many different ways, but there are two main types of pallets: stringer pallets and block pallets.
1. Stringer pallets
Stringer pallets have 3 long pieces of wood (called ‘stringers’) to support two sides of wooden boards. These pallets are 2-way pallets because a forklift picks them up in two different ways.
2. Block pallets
In a similar way, the pieces of wood in block pallets have support with blocks of wood. Most shippers use them for heavier shipments. These pallets are 4-way pallets because a forklift picks them up in four different ways.
How to palletize freight?
It’s better to put the heaviest items on the bottom, and the lightest ones on the top. Put layers of cardboard or thick paper between every second or third pack because this helps reduce pressure on the bottom package and helps ensure no damage occurs in transit. If you use boxes, cartons, or bags, make sure you properly seal them. Protect the corners and stack the boxes evenly as possible. In order to avoid shifts on the pallet, don’t leave empty spaces between the cartons. Padding your packages is an absolute necessity for secure transportation.
Some carriers refuse to transport loose boxes with no internal protection, so make sure to stuff cartons with soft material, especially when items are fragile. Label each pack with instructions for handling, like “fragile,” “do not turn upside down,” etc.
This helps carriers move their freight carefully. Don’t forget to use strapping or metal taping to make packages hold together. Wrap your packages and wrap them around the pallet to strengthen the protection.