Pallets make it easier to move heavy stacks. Loads with pallets under them can be hauled by forklift trucks
of different sizes, or even by hand-pumped and hand-drawn pallet jacks. Movement is easy on a wide, strong,
flat floor: concrete is excellent. A forklift truck can cost the same as a luxury automobile, but a good
reconditioned hand-drawn pallet jack costs only a few hundred dollars.
The greatest investment is thus in the construction of commercial or industrial buildings where the use of
pallets could be economical. Passage through doors and buildings must be possible. To help this issue, some
later pallet standards (the Euro Pallet and the U.S. Military 35 × 45.5 in/889 × 1,156 mm) are designed to
pass through standard doorways.
Organizations using standard pallets for loading and unloading can have much lower costs for handling and
storage, with faster material movement than businesses that do not. The exceptions are establishments that
move small items such as jewelry or large items such as cars. But even they can be improved. For instance,
the distributors of costume jewelry normally use pallets in their warehouses and car manufacturers use
pallets to move components and spare parts.
The lack of a single international standard for pallets causes substantial continuing expense in international
trade. A single standard is difficult because of the wide variety of needs a standard pallet would have to
satisfy: passing doorways, fitting in standard containers, and bringing low labor costs. For example,
organizations already handling large pallets often see no reason to pay the higher handling cost of using
smaller pallets that can fit through doors.
Due to cost and a need to focus on core business pallet pooling becomes more and more common. Some pallet
suppliers supply users with reusable pallets, sometimes with integral tracking devices. A pallet management
company can help supply, clean, repair, and reuse pallets.
In a pallet measurement the first number is the stringer length and the second is the deck board length.
Square or nearly square pallets help a load resist tipping.
Two-way pallets are designed to be lifted by the deck boards. In a warehouse, the deck board side faces the
corridor. For optimal cubage in a warehouse, the deck board dimension should be the shorter. This also helps
the deck boards be more rigid.
Four-way pallets, or pallets for heavy loads, or general-purpose systems that might have heavy loads are
best lifted by their more rigid stringers. A warehouse has the stronger side facing the corridor. For
optimal cubage in a warehouse, the stronger dimension should be the shorter.
Pallet users want pallets to easily pass through buildings, stack and fit in racks, forklifts, pallet jacks
and automated warehouses. To avoid shipping air, pallets should also pack tightly inside intermodal
containers and vans.
No universally accepted standards for pallet dimensions exist. Companies and organizations utilize hundreds
of different pallet sizes around the globe. While no single dimensional standard governs pallet production,
a few different sizes are widely used.
|Dimensions in inches (W × L)
||Region most used in
|48.00 × 40.00
|39.37 × 47.24
||Europe, Asia; similar to 48x40".
|45.87 × 45.87
|42.00 × 42.00
||North America, Europe, Asia
|43.30 × 43.30
|31.50 × 47.24
||Europe; fits many doorways
Types of pallets
Although pallets come in all manner of sizes and configurations, all pallets fall into two very broad categories:
"Stringer" pallets and "block" pallets. The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association has developed a Pallet
Design System PDS© to manufacture pallets. PDS© is a computer program that allows the pallet maker to generate the
best-suited pallet design for a specific load and generate several options for wood selections to further reduce
costs. Cap3d is another program that does the same thing.
Stringer pallets use a frame of three or four parallel pieces of timber (called stringers). The top deck boards
are then affixed to the stringers to create the pallet structure. Stringer pallets are also known as "two-way"
pallets, since a pallet-jack may only lift it from two directions instead of four. Forklifts can lift a stringer
pallet from all four directions, though lifting by the stringers is more secure.
Block pallets (also referred to as Manoj pallets) are typically stronger than stringer pallets. Block pallets
utilize both parallel and perpendicular stringers to better facilitate efficient handling. A block pallet is also
known as a "four-way" pallet, since a pallet-jack may be used from any side to move it.
Perimeter base pallet
All stringer and some block pallets have "unidirectional bases," i.e. bottom boards oriented in one direction.
While automated handling equipment can be designed for this, often it can operate faster and more effectively if the
bottom edges of a pallet have bottom boards oriented in both directions. For example, The operator may not need to
turn a pallet to store it and operation is less sensitive to pallet orientation.
The least expensive way to improve a pallet is usually to specify better nails. With non-wood pallets, a controlled
the coefficient of friction is often helpful to prevent the pallet from slipping from forks and racks. Stiffer pallets
are more durable and are handled more easily by automated equipment. If a pallet does not need to be lifted from all
four sides, two-way pallets with unnotched stringers may be used, with the additional benefits of added rigidity and
strength. Specifying tolerances on flatness and water content may help the supplier meet target requirements.
Inspection of pallets, whether in person or by a third-party (such as "SPEQ" inspected pallets) offer additional
assurance of quality.
The cheapest pallets are made of softwood and are often considered expendable, to be discarded as trash along with
other wrapping elements, at the end of the trip. These pallets are simple stringer pallets, and liftable from two sides.
Slightly more complex hardwood block pallets, plastic pallets and metal pallets can be lifted from all four sides.
These costlier pallets usually require a deposit and are returned to the sender or resold as used. Many "four way"
pallets are color coded according to the loads they can bear, and other attributes.
Wooden pallet construction specifications can depend on the pallet's intended use: general, FDA, storage, chemical, export;
the expected load weight; type of wood desired: recycled, hard, soft, kiln dried or combo (new & recycle); and even the
type of fasteners desired to hold the pallet together: staples or nails.