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Pallet Freight Size: How to Ship Efficiently

11.14.2018 | By AJ Todd | 8 min. read

Shipping makes the world go round. It may be a matter that most people don’t think about, but it’s true. Our modern society is built on a massive number of goods and services that have gone from unthinkable to integral within the span of a single generation. The products that make modern life possible can’t move around by themselves, however. To get where they need to go, they have to be shipped there.

Fortunately, most people don’t have to consider the work that goes into ensuring that their favorite products are available for them. Those responsible for ensuring those products are available, however, cannot afford such a luxury.

The importance of efficient shipping

Efficiency is vital to any business venture. Loss of efficiency translates to a loss of money. Pallet freight shipping is no exception. When a company ships its products in the most efficient means possible, this translates to more significant pallet freight cost savings. So it is only natural that companies are always going to be looking for more efficient means to ship their products.

Size is important

Consider your average semi-trailer or shipping container. When empty, it may look as though it has lots of available space. However, when improperly utilized, that space can disappear quickly. Worse, the improper use of available space can leave behind lots of empty space. Any money used to ship that empty space is money that is going to waste.

Because of this, it is always important to fill as much space as possible when shipping products. For some businesses, it may suffice to approach the problem like a jigsaw puzzle and match the right box with the right empty space. Other businesses need to approach the matter with far more care. For them, the right starting point may be the selection of the right freight pallet size.

Freight pallets

There is no such thing as a standard freight pallet. Pallets can be expected to share certain characteristics, however. Most pallets will be made of either plastic or wood, though metal pallets exist as well. It can also be expected for pallets to be easily lifted by forklifts. Some pallets will be accessible from two sides, while others can be lifted from all four directions.

The dimensions of a freight shipping pallet are far less standard. While there are six different pallet sizes officially endorsed by the International Organization for Standardization, in North America alone there exists at least a dozen different sizes of freight pallets. The most common version is the design of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. In addition to being the source of nearly a third of all wood pallets newly constructed in the United States, it’s also one of the few pallets approved by the ISO.

There are benefits to be had from selecting a freight pallet size that has been officially endorsed by a larger organization. By using one of these standard pallet sizes, there may be an opportunity to save money through other means. However, it will fall to each business to calculate if the benefits from using a standardized pallet outweigh the benefits from using a pallet that better fits their own personal, unique needs.

The benefits of pallets

There are a significant number of benefits to be had from using pallets to ship products. As one can probably imagine, the use of pallets makes shipping significantly easier. Storing and shipping products on pallets allows for easier organization, storage, and movement.  The proper utilization of pallets can greatly enhance the benefits that pallets provide. This, in turn, further increases the efficiency benefits to be had from the use of pallets.

Organizing with pallets

Pallets, and similar tools such as skids, function not unlike easily movable sections of a floor. By placing items that are intended to be shipped or stored together on a pallet, a person who is moving those items can work with the cargo in a convenient location and spend far less time moving individual items from one location to another, instead placing them on a pallet that is nearby. Once these items are properly arranged on their pallet, the entire pallet can be moved to a new location all at one time. Through the use of multiple pallets, an individual can organize large quantities of the product far easier and far more efficiently than by storing items in piles on the floor.

Storing products with pallets

Organizing products on pallets, in turn, provides benefits to the storage of inventory, whether in a warehouse or on trucks, semi-trailers, or shipping containers. By their very nature, pallets are square or rectangular in shape. Thanks to the natural efficiency of these shapes, the use of pallets to hold and move inventory will naturally drive individuals to be more efficient with the way they store the products that are placed on the pallets.

Moving inventory with pallets

The most obvious benefit of using pallets with inventory is their ability to aid movement of that inventory. First and foremost, it allows the proper use of forklifts, pallet jacks, and other similar tools. This is because these tools and pallets are designed to work together in the most efficient way possible. Indispensable as they are, forklifts are among the most efficient way to move large and heavy quantities of inventory at once.

Moving inventory on pallets also leads to more effective organization and storage with pallets. The use of forklifts to move products that are placed on pallets is perhaps the most efficient means of loading and unloading trucks, especially products that are stored in longer units such as shipping containers or semi-trailers. Not only can forklifts and pallet jacks carry far more than a human being, but they can also move products out of storage units far faster than a human can. This is especially true when placing items at the furthest end of a storage unit.

The use of pallets to store and move inventory is also beneficial to storage. By combining selected products on a pallet in an organized fashion, a business can increase the ease by which they locate those products at a later date, improving efficiency by reducing time lost in searching for what they want to find.

Additional benefits of pallet use

While not usually considered, there exist other benefits to the use of pallets as well. First, by placing inventory on a pallet, that inventory is removed from the floor. In situations where a business must deal with messes created on the floor, this can protect inventory from being contaminated by the source of the spill. While no business certainly hopes to have to contend with spills, accidents do still happen. In such circumstances, not having to be concerned with cleaning inventory is a benefit all the same.

Second, pallets can ease the process of moving inventory to its intended location. Any time a product is transferred from one place to another, it is necessary that the product is lifted if a business does not want that product slid against the floor. Through the use of pallets, individuals trying to move inventory will have an easier time at the process. Even when the pallet itself is not being moved, it can still provide aid by providing a gap between the floor and the inventory it is holding. This is especially true for pallets that feature natural grooves, such as traditional wooden pallets.

Shipping with pallets

Thanks to the benefits provided, the very use of pallets brings with it improved efficiency. When used properly, they allow products to be shipped in a more organized fashion and allow those products to be moved far easier. Furthermore, they ensure that far more products can be moved at once, as those products can be moved as a single entity rather than as several individual pieces.

All of these elements together result in saved time, effort, and improved efficiency.

Proper pallet size

The selection of the right freight pallet to fit a company’s needs begins with two important pieces of information. The first is the product or products they intend to ship. The second is the size of the truck they plan to use to send their product. It is by calculating a proper use of these elements that businesses will determine the freight pallet size that will best suit their needs.

Fitting product to a shipping pallet

Loading each pallet is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. As with empty space in a semi-trailer or shipping container, any area not used on a pallet is wasted space. It will likely be far easier to use as much of a pallet as possible if it is loaded all with products of a single size. If a business is sending more than one product to the same location, there may be times when loading more than one kind of product onto a single pallet may be more effective, should those products complement each other.

For businesses that ship multiple products in smaller quantities, properly organizing product is likely to be far more of a challenge. In these circumstances, far greater effort must be taken to ensure all product fits together.

Loading a pallet safely

It is always important to remember that no matter what method is used to load a shipping pallet, safety must always be considered. First and foremost, if a pallet is not safely loaded, it is a danger to everyone and everything around it. Additionally, an unsafely loaded pallet can be a detriment to efficiency not just for shipping, but for other aspects of a business as well.

Safely loading a pallet starts with properly arranging the items that are to be placed on top of it. Anyone loading a pallet must be conscious of all the items being placed upon it, to ensure even distribution of weight and mass. If too much weight is placed on one side, or if the products placed on a pallet do not have a proper foundation, the items on the pallet will be far more likely to fall over. Not only will this waste the time spent loading the pallet in the first place, but it will also endanger anyone standing near the pallet when its contents fall to the ground.

The process of loading a pallet must also take into consideration the weight and sturdiness of the products placed on top of it. If a pallet is being loaded entirely with all one product, it is important to consider how much of that product can be loaded before it can no longer support itself. If a pallet is loaded with multiple items, it is important to place the heavier and stronger items on the bottom and place the lighter, more fragile items on top.

For larger loads, it can also help to wrap a pallet after it has been loaded, particularly for pallets that are to be moved a significant distance. Finally, a business must consider the state of the pallets they are using as well. While the reuse of pallets can save money, this is less true if the pallet being reused is in poor condition itself. If a pallet does not look like it is in good condition or capable of holding the load it is intended for, it is far better to have it properly disposed of and use a different pallet instead.

Fitting pallets for shipping

Once a pallet has been loaded, it is then ready to be loaded into a truck, semi-trailer, or shipping container for transport. Naturally, the more of a containers floor space that is used, the more efficient a load will be. Ideally, a business will be able to select a freight pallet size that will both match the needs of the products they are shipping and the size of the transportation they are using to ship those products. However, when this is not possible, the business will need to calculate how best to arrange the pallets carrying their product to leave the least empty space possible.

A business will also need to consider the amount of inventory they need to ship in order to consider how best to ship it. For larger businesses that work with large volumes of inventory, they will likely rely on larger trucks, and view any empty space left behind as an acceptable loss that is less than the cost of using additional trucks. Smaller companies may simply rely on smaller trucks. Depending on the size of the business, they may instead find it more beneficial to rely on a less-than truckload shipping service, allowing them to coordinate their shipping needs with other companies. In effect, this will enable them to approach their shipping needs in the same way employees may enjoy the benefits of carpooling.

Efficient shipping is smart shipping

Shipping with pallets is an easy and effective tool to increase a company’s efficiency. As with all endeavors, the intelligent use of pallets will increase these benefits even further. By selecting the right freight pallet size for the needs of their products and using smart decision making in loading those pallets, a business can easily improve their efficiency, allowing them to be more competitive and better serve their customers.

Find out how your company can ship easily and efficiently by working with Flock Freight today.