It’s just a pallet; or is it? Part I of II

August 13th, 2013

Aren’t pallets all the same; other than size and shape, what makes them different and why?

Today’s post is by Dennis Nicoletti, Manager Customer Service at SafeSourcing, Inc

If you’re in a business today that provides goods, supplies, equipment  and alike somewhere along the line these products most likely traveled on a pallet, either in the loading, shipping, delivery or receiving process.  Pallets are the most common method for this as well as being used for storage purposes.  In this article I wanted to share some key factors to consider when purchasing, using or accepting pallets, no matter the originating source.   In this blog my intention is to educate you a little more than you probably wanted to know about pallets.

First the definition,  pallet:  sometimes inaccurately called a skid (a skid has no bottom deckboards), a pallet is a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader, work saver or other jacking device. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap and shipped. While most pallets are wooden, pallets also are made of plastic, metal, and paper.

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. Various software packages exist to assist the pallet maker in designing an appropriate pallet for a specific load, and to evaluate wood options to reduce costs.

•  Stringer pallets use a frame of three or more parallel pieces of timber (called stringers). The top deckboards are then affixed to the stringers to create the pallet structure.  A stringer pallet is also known as a “two-way” pallet, since a pallet-jack can be used from only two sides to move it. Two-way pallets are designed to be lifted by the deckboards. In a warehouse the deckboard side faces the corridor. 
•   Block 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. Four-way pallets or pallets for heavy loads are best lifted by their more rigid stringers. A warehouse has the stringer side facing the corridor.

Efficiencies: 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.

Pallet pooling:  due to cost and a need to focus on core business, pallet pooling becomes more and more common. A pallet management company can help supply, clean, repair, and reuse pallets. Pallets should be seen as reusable packaging items. Every pallet that is built could potentially be used and used again until such a time when it will need to be replaced.

Stay tuned for Part II of: It’s just a pallet; or is it? 

There are many things to considered before purchasing pallets, such as; should I buy new or used pallets, what grade of pallet is right for my business, do I want a service to manage the pallet inventory for me?  We at SafeSourcing are ready to help you through all the questions and help you lower your procurement costs.  For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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