When transporting and storing goods, placing them on a solid surface, such as pallets made from different materials, is best. Some pallet types you might want to consider as a foundation during storage and transportation include plastic pallets, wooden pallets, and metal pallets. Ideally, pallets ought to be flat and horizontal to allow the stacking of goods during loading and transport.
Pallets are essential logistics equipment in the freight industry because they make it easy to transport cargo from point A to point B safely. You can use different types of pallets to assemble, stack up, and move cargo. Your choice of pallets can also depend on the load you’re transporting or storing.
In addition, pallets are also a warehouse essential during storage. This is because they contribute to the efficiency of operations within the warehouse by making it easy to move and organize cargo. For instance, you can use forklift trucks and a pallet jack to move stacked cargo safely as long as it’s packaged in pallets.
Types Of Pallets
There are different types of pallets based on the following elements:
Your choice of pallets when storing or transporting goods should be based on the type of cargo and safety concerns.
Types Of Pallets Based On Materials
As mentioned before, pallets are made from different materials such as wood, plastic, paper, and metal. When choosing a pallet based on the material, it’s best to choose one that suits your needs.
Plastic pallets are made from high-density polymeric plastic substances such as polyethylene through an intense process to ensure that they are rigid and strong enough to support cargo weight. In other cases, plastic pallets can be made from recycled pallets, HDPE materials, or bottles.
Subsequently, plastic pallets are commonly used for storing and carrying lightweight to medium-heavy loads, such as to transport food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals. In addition, the plastic material is resistant to weather, microbial attacks, and pest attacks, making it safe for cargo.
One of the factors that make plastic pallets popular is durability. These pallets can survive despite harsh conditions because they don’t contaminate with chemicals. Additionally, the pallets are easy to clean and lightweight, giving them a longer service life span.
Advantages of plastic pallets
There are several benefits of using plastic pallets, such as the following:
- They are durable and can serve you for a long time.
- They are resistant to weather and, therefore, can’t rot or corrode.
- They are easy to clean.
- They are odor-resistant.
- They are reusable and recyclable.
- They are lightweight and can be used in air freight.
The pros of plastic pallets make them a popular choice in international shipping, especially for light cargo.
Disadvantages of plastic pallets
While plastic pallets are a popular choice with many advantages, there are a few disadvantages, such as the following:
- They are costly.
- They are difficult to repair in case of damage or breakage.
- They can’t be used to carry heavy loads.
When considering plastic pallets, it’d be best to determine whether they’re suitable for your cargo and transportation needs.
As mentioned, plastic pallets are costly compared to other pallets because of the materials used and the manufacturing process. The average cost of these pallets is around $USD 100, which is exclusive of maintenance. However, this cost can change depending on the number of pallets bought and the type.
For instance, you can purchase pallets at the following prices depending on the type:
- Stackable pallets: These are pallets that sit on top of each other without slipping and can cost around $USD 10 to $USD 100 per pallet, depending on the size and other factors.
- Rackable pallets: These pallets are best for cube utilization and to reduce clutter and cost about $USD 20 to $USD 95 per pallet.
- Nestable pallets: These are the pallets that can be placed inside each other when empty and cost around $USD 20 to $USD 95 per pallet.
The cost of pallets is also influenced by the number you’re buying. If you’re buying in bulk, then the price might be lower.
Other cost consideration
Other than the purchasing cost of pallets, you also have to consider other expenses that may arise, such as the following:
While plastic pallets are generally durable, you still have to maintain them to retain their integrity and improve their life span. You must ensure that they’re regularly cleaned, maintained, and repaired. Regular maintenance can be costly. Further, you’ll also have to consider replacing the ones that get damaged beyond repair.
It’s also essential to ensure that the pallets are in good condition and available when needed. This means that the pallets must be available at the right time and place whenever required.
If you have pallets in bulk, you’ll need proper storage space when they aren’t in use. It can be costly to create a space for pallet storage.
Pallets require to be moved around a lot, especially during the organization of cargo or to create room for other things. You’ll need to factor in the cost of labor to move the pallets around without damaging them. The price should also factor in machine operators for forklift trucks.
When pallets are used to deliver cargo to different destinations, they have to be picked up once the shipment has been unloaded. This means you’ll have to factor in the cost of picking up and transporting them back to the warehouse.
How to save on costs
Despite a plastic pallet being expensive, you can save on costs while still getting the benefits through pallet pooling. This is where you can opt to rent instead of buying plastic pallets. The leasing company is usually responsible for issuing, using, and picking the pallets at the end of the supply chain.
This means you’ll only incur the cost of hiring the pallets, while the leasing company is liable for maintenance, storage, labor, and transportation. Moreover, you can also save on warehouse space because you don’t have to store the pallets.
As discussed earlier, plastic pallets are weather-resistant and therefore suitable for indoor and outdoor climates. They aren’t also susceptible to chemical or pests damage. Thus, they are the best for transporting biodegradable materials and chemicals.
Wooden pallets are arguably the most popular pallets used in storage and shipping. Their popularity is because they’re easy to repair, durable, and strong. You can have soft wood pallets or hard wood pallets, depending on the type of tree it’s made from. The most common trees used to make wooden pallets are oak and pine.
These pallets primarily carry heavy loads because they are strong and provide the necessary support. They also have a strong grip and higher friction compared to other pallets. This is an excellent advantage for the safe transportation of cargo.
In addition, wooden pallets can be resold and reused as long as they’re in good condition. When damaged or broken, the wooden pallets can always be repurposed, making them cost-effective.
Advantages of wooden pallets
There are several advantages of using wooden pallets, such as the following:
- They can be custom-made to suit your needs.
- They can be reused, resold, and repurposed.
- They are multi-functional and can be used for storage and transportation.
- They are lightweight and easy to carry around.
- They come in different wood varieties.
You can consider these benefits when deciding whether to use wooden pallets.
Disadvantages of wooden pallets
While wooden pallets have several advantages, they also have some disadvantages, such as the following:
- They can be easily damaged by water.
- They are susceptible to bacterial and chemical infections.
- They can be damaged and broken by heavy loads.
- They can easily get bug infestations.
You can mitigate these disadvantages by storing the wooden pallets in a dry environment and treating them to avoid bacterial and bug infestation.
Wooden pallets are relatively affordable, and the price differs depending on the following factors:
- New wood pallets: The cost varies between $USD 19 to $USD 24 per pallet.
- Used or repurposed wood pallets: These cost between $USD 10 TO $USD 18 per pallet.
- Export wood pallets: The cost of one pallet is between $USD 10 to $USD 28.
- Custom wood pallets: The cost varies depending on the complexity of the custom design, but it can be anything between $USD 10 to $USD 150 per pallet.
The cost of wooden pallets is flexible and can reduce if you buy in bulk. You can also get a discount in the following circumstances:
Bulk orders: Most suppliers offer discounts for orders exceeding a certain limit, and you can discuss this during the purchase.
Cash on delivery payments (COD): Your supplier can also give a discount if you’re paying in cash upon delivery of the pallets.
However, the discount options differ for suppliers, and you must consider what your supplier offers.
Wooden pallets are perfect for projects that require storing light, sealed, and non-biodegradable products. For instance, they can be used to transport and store items such as ceramic and plastic toys.
You can also repurpose wooden pallets into wood furniture such as coffee tables, sofa seats, and bed frames.
Other types of wood pallets
While most wood pallets are made from pine and oak tree, there are other types of wood pallets, such as:
Presswood pallets are considered the best alternative for plastic pallets because of their design attributes and quality. They’re made from processed wood fibers subjected to high heat and pressure to form solid block pallets. In addition, they can also be made from recycled wooden materials such as wood shavings, used pallets, and wood waste.
One of the reasons why presswood pallets are becoming popular is their unique and distinctive design, making it easy to nest them when not in use. Nesting helps reduce storage space consumption. Additionally, the pallets are light, making them easy to store and use.
Presswood pallets are also molded with rounded corners making them safe and reliable for use. The pallets are also made using reinforcing ribs which help increase the pallets’ capacity to hold weight load.
However, these pallets need to be more robust and sturdy, like traditional wooden pallets, to hold heavy weights. Furthermore, they’re also prone to water damage which can cause rot and bug infestation.
Plywood pallets are lightweight and best for rough usage in the transportation of light and medium-heavy goods. One of the advantages of using plywood pallets is that they’re resistant to bug infestation and moisture.
In addition, it’s easy to customize plywood pallets into single wooden deck pallets and double wooden deck pallets. They are also sturdy with uniform strength and free from shrinking, swelling, and warping. These attributes make plywood pallets perfect for the storage and transportation of cargo.
However, if you fail to care for plywood pallets properly, they can easily degrade and get damaged. Thus, it’s best to store them in a dry area.
Paper pallets, also known as eco pallets, are an alternative that seeks to provide solutions to the challenges experienced in plastic and metal pallets. Some examples of paper pallets include the following:
- Corrugated pallets
- Honeycomb pallets
- Fiberboard pallets
You can use paper pallets for storage and transportation of cargo. They can be a great alternative to other pallets because they are light, highly adaptable, easy to clean, recyclable, and easily disposed of without posing dangers to the environment. You can also easily carry paper pallets because of their lightweight.
In addition, the material used to make paper pallets is resistant to microbial attacks and chemical contamination. This makes them perfect for storing food, beverages, and other lightweight materials. Further, some paper pallets are made with a solid top deck from various sheet materials.
- Paper pallets were introduced to serve two primary objectives:
- Reduce costs because they don’t have to be returned.
- Reduce shipping costs because they’re lightweight.
Therefore, if you’re transporting light cargo on a budget, it’d be best to consider using paper pallets for storage and transportation.
Advantages of paper pallets
Here are some reasons why paper pallets might be the best option for your shipping needs.
- They are cost-effective.
- They have a high resistance to microbial and chemical contamination.
- They are lighter compared to wood and metal pallets.
- They are easy to clean.
- They are environmentally friendly and can be easily recycled or disposed of.
- They are also easy to customize.
From the above advantages, it’s notable that paper pallets might be the best option for lightweight shipping cargo.
Disadvantages of paper pallets
The downside of using paper pallets is as follows:
- They are highly flammable and easily catch fire when exposed to a heat source.
- They can get damaged when used to hold heavy cargo.
- They aren’t durable and are susceptible to water and moisture damage.
- You should consider the type of cargo you’re transporting to ensure that you can use eco pallets.
Eco pallets are relatively affordable, and the pallet strength can influence the cost. For instance, the price of a simple light duty paper pallet can cost between $USD 7 and $USD 10. However, the average cost of a standard eco pallet is around $USD 10 to $USD 12. Customized eco pallets are the most expensive ranging from $USD 12 to $USD 18.
Eco pallets are most suitable for transporting light cargo such as food, beverages, clothing, shoes, and furniture. Though these pallets are meant for light shipment, they can be customized through engineering to carry heavier products.
Metal pallets are likely to come to your mind when you’re looking for a strong pallet to transport heavy materials. Despite metal pallets being durable and sturdier, they aren’t commonly used as other pallets. Metal pallets are widely used for shipping automotive components, construction materials, and military equipment.
The most common types of metal pallets are:
- Stainless steel pallets
- Aluminum pallets
- Carbon steel pallets
The materials used to make metal pallets are robust and durable. These materials are preferable because they are resistant to drastic weather changes, chemical contamination, microbial growth, and moisture. As such, you can use metal pallets to store and transport goods.
The strength of metal pallets makes them suitable for construction and can significantly reduce overall costs. In addition, they are also preferable for air freight shipping because they’re lighter than plastic and wooden pallets.
Advantages of metal pallets
You can prefer a metal pallet over other pallets for several reasons. The benefits of using a metal pallet are as follows:
- It’s easy to clean.
- A metal pallet is durable,
- It has a high resistance to weather changes and moisture.
- It’s not susceptible to bug infestation.
- It’s resistant to chemical contamination.
- It’s fireproof and rackable.
- It’s reusable.
- It’s strong, stiff, and sturdy.
These attributes make metal pallets suitable for many storage and shipping needs.
Disadvantages of metal pallets
Though there are many advantages to using metal pallets, there are also some disadvantages. The following are the cons of using a metal pallet:
- Some materials, such as steel, are susceptible to rusting and corrosion.
- It’s expensive and can increase the shipping cost.
It’s essential for you to consider the advantages and disadvantages of a metal pallet before deciding to use it.
The attributes and qualities of a metal pallet make it perfect for use in the metal and automotive industries. These are the sectors that are after a long-term storage and shipping solution.
Ideally, a metal pallet costs an average of $USD 70 to $USD 90 depending on the material used and the size. However, some pallets, such as those made from stainless steel, can cost up to about $USD 200.
However, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can consider finding reusable or recyclable pallets.
Types Of Pallets Based On Style
There are several types of pallets based on the style of entry points for forklift trucks and decking. The different types of pallets based on style include the following:
- Two-way entry pallets.
- Four-way entry pallets.
- Open deck pallets.
- Solid deck pallets.
- Double face pallets.
These pallets can be used for various types of loads during shipping.
Double Face Pallets
These pallets have a top deck and a bottom deck making them usable on either side. The purpose of having a bottom deck is to increase the strength and ability to hold more weight. In addition, the bottom deck also ensures that the weight of the cargo is distributed evenly across the board.
Double face pallets usually have top and bottom deck boards that go past the stringers. This gives the perception that the pallets are winged. There are two primary types of double face pallets:
- Reversible pallets: These have densely packed pallets on both sides and can be used interchangeably.
- Non-reversible pallets: These have only one side with densely packed planks.
A double face pallet has more planks on one side to ensure prolonged and safe storage.
Two Way Pallets
Two way pallets are made in such a way that they have entry openings on two sides. The entry openings are used by forklift trucks to lift and move cargo around the warehouse and during loading.
In some cases, two way pallets are preferable because they are more cost-effective to manufacture.
Four Way Stringer Pallets
The four way stringer pallets are similar to two way pallets, with the difference being the number of entryways for a forklift. These pallets have entry openings on all four sides of the pallet.
In some cases, the four way stringer pallets are preferable over the two way pallets because they can be moved easily in small spaces.
Open Deck Pallets
These are pallets that have gaps between the deck boards. The gaps make the open deck pallets light and more affordable. The downside to using open deck pallets is that they can only accommodate larger items, and smaller items can slip through the gaps.
Solid Deck pallets
Unlike open deck pallets, a solid deck pallet has a continuous sheet of material with no spaces. This attribute makes them heavy and expensive. The continuous sheets of material make these pallets easy to clean, transport, and maintain. You can use solid deck pallets to transport small objects because they don’t have cracks or gaps.
You can find a solid deck pallet in different forms because they are made from various materials such as wood, metal, plastic, and paper.
Pallet Types Based On Design
There are several pallet types based on the design. These pallet types include:
- Block pallets
- Stringer pallets
- Roto-molded pallets
- Injection molded pallets
The design of each pallet is different depending on the intended purpose of the pallet. In addition, the pallets are designed differently to accommodate various goods and products.
Block pallets are also referred to as deck boards and are characterized by having a four-way entry for lifting and moving using a forklift. Ideally, a block pallet can have up to 12 cylindrical posts between the top and bottom deck boards. The cylindrical posts make the pallet stable.
Different pallet materials make block pallets, including plywood, plastic, wood, metal, and paper. A block pallet can be made with a bottom boar, and your choice depends on your needs.
In a block pallet, the purpose of the used material is to ascertain support of the unit load. Thin stringers are usually placed between the blocks to form some mat. The size of the stringer mat determines that of the block pallet.
In addition, block pallets are efficient because they have perpendicular and parallel stringers. In some cases, the stringers are replaced with synthetic foam to support the unit load. It’s also advisable to use block pallets and string pallets together. Using the two types of pallets together creates a sturdy foundation for transport structures such as forklifts and pallet jacks used to lift cargo and materials.
Stringer pallets get their name from using stringers to support the unit load. In most cases, stringers are boards or mats placed between the bottom deck and the top deck boards of a pallet. Further, stringer pallets can either have a two way entry or four way entry for lifting by forklifts. In some cases, the bottom deck boards can be customized to allow entry by a pallet jack.
One of the benefits of a stringer pallet is that it offers additional support because of the string boards sandwiched between the top and bottom deck boards. This means that a stringer pallet can hold more weight because of the extra support.
These pallets are made using a single solid material, plastic, without any gaps. The design of the pallet makes it easy to clean and carry small objects without the fear that they’ll slip through the cracks. This makes them preferable for cargo that prioritizes high levels of hygiene.
The roto-molded pallets can be an excellent solution for transporting heavy goods. You can also increase the strength of the pallets by having the plastic wrapped around steel frames. However, while this would make it easy for you to transport heavy cargo, it’s also expensive.
Injection Molded Pallets
You can now have color-coded pallets because of the plastic injection technology. The pallets are relatively affordable because of having air spaces. Despite having air spaces on the board, the durability and strength of the pallet aren’t affected.
Nonetheless, you can use a forklift and pallet jacks to move and load them. Another great element of injection molded pallets is that they are lighter, making them easy to manage. However, they are challenging to clean because of the air spaces and, therefore, unsuitable for cargo that requires high hygienic standards.
Considerations When Choosing Pallet Types
Your choice of pallet type depends on your needs and the type of cargo you’re storing or transporting. You can consider several factors before choosing a suitable pallet type. These factors include the following:
- Budget: You must always determine how much money you’re planning to spend on the initial cost and subsequent expenses such as maintenance and transport. In addition, your choice of pallets should be cost-effective in the long run.
- Type of cargo: The cargo you’re planning to ship is essential when determining the best pallet to buy. The aspects of the shipment, such as the type, weight, size, and condition, affect the suitable type of pallet. For example, if you’re transporting food, beverages, and chemical substances, it’d be best to use plastic material pallets.
- Packaging dimensions: You can also choose the pallet size depending on the cargo’s packaging dimensions. Nobody wants to have a pallet that’s too small for their shipment.
- Shipping destination: International shipping requires that you comply with international standards and regulations. It’s best to choose a pallet type that can be easily approved in most countries.
- Frequency of use: As a frequent shipper, it’s best to get durable and long-term pallets as an asset. On the other hand, if you’re a one-time shipper, a used or repurposed pallet can be sufficient. The goal is to reduce costs while also getting an appropriate pallet.
- Shipping conditions: Different pallets react differently to environmental factors such as water and humidity. You ought to choose a pallet suitable for your cargo’s shipping conditions. For example, if you’re shipping via sea, a plastic pallet might be ideal because of its water-resistant qualities.
Once you’ve established your budget, cargo, and shipping needs, it’d be easy to choose an appropriate pallet type.
There are many types of pallets that you can utilize for the storage and shipping of different types of cargo. There’s no doubt that pallets have had to evolve and adapt to technological advancements to ensure that they keep up with user needs. You can always find a pallet type that suits all your needs. Nonetheless, there are various factors that you must consider before buying pallets, such as cost. Pallets are costly, especially if you consider the initial and subsequent costs such as transport, maintenance, and storage. To reduce costs, you can consider other options, such as renting. With that said, there is a pool of pallet types for you to choose; make the best choice!