4 Questions to Ask When Purchasing Pallets
While they may seem simple enough—a rigid platform used as a base for storing or shipping goods, pallets are not designed as a one-size-fits-all product. That is why hundreds of different pallet sizes are used around the world. But, in the United States, there are two pallet styles that are commonplace.
The block style has blocks (rectangular, square, multi-sided, or cylindrical deck spacer) between the pallet decks or beneath the top deck and is suitable for a wide range of handling because it’s open on all four sides. The stringer style has stringers (parallel pieces of timber used to support and space the deck components) between the deckboards or beneath the panel deck that allow partial 4-way access if stringers are notched; otherwise, two-way access is available.
So, which one is right for your organization? Answer these four questions before you purchase your next pallet supply:
- What product is being shipped? Specific sizes and styles of pallets exist for transporting products such as food, electronics, manufacturing equipment, and industrial parts to name a few. For some products, heat or chemically treated pallets are necessary to guard against pesticides, mold, or rot during transit, especially if products are shipping overseas.
- What is the weight of the product being shipped? The pallet you select must be capable of supporting the weight of materials being shipped. Block-style wood pallets can carry the most weight; plastic pallets, on the other hand, are more durable, clean, weather-resistant, and stackable. But, they can cost ten times more than hardwood.
- How durable does the pallet need to be? Will the pallet endure extreme shipping and handling conditions over multiple uses or will it only be used sporadically or perhaps just once? Combo pallets, for example, are ideal for one-way shipping.
- How do pallets function within your organization? Do pallets travel along a conveyor or other automated warehouse system? Considering the purpose or role of pallets in relation to other material handling equipment, including forklifts or pallet jacks, will help determine the proper pallet size/style.
While many pallet providers can help you select a pallet based on your answers, consider whether they can offer a continuous, uninterrupted supply of your chosen pallet. Oftentimes, needs arise unexpectedly and companies may have an unplanned, heavy demand for pallets. Be sure to partner with a provider that can deliver ‘just in time.’ Also, look for a company that can help you manage your pallet inventory effectively so that you never have to worry about a shortage of pallets.