shipping pallet

How to Prepare Shipping Pallets for Global Shipment: The Comprehensive FAQ Guide

shipping pallet

International transportation is a tough thing, so you have to use various tools for effective logistics.

One of the simplest of such tools is a standard shipping pallet, which is used to store and protect cargo.

Without further ado, let’s jump straight into the topic of preparing pallets for your next shipment.

What is a shipping pallet?

Pallets are flat constructions used in cargo container ships for supporting goods or containers.

Products are piled on top of these structures.

Why you need pallets for shipping?

There are six main reasons for using pallets in shipping.

Reason 1. With pallets goods move and handle become much easier

The forklift and the pallet together can be used very effective while storing and moving goods.

These two simple technologies provide the easiest way to move product around a loading dock or some kind of warehouse.

The better part of shipping pallets is constructed to be lifted and moved by a forklift.

As you may assume already, floor loaded freight is much more difficult and time-consuming to move without certain equipment.

Reason 2. Some companies won’t ship your cargo without pallets

Pallets are part of the standard shipping method in almost every freight company.

With their help, it is fast and easy to unload trucks and containers.

Freight that is stacked on the floor without pallets is more likely to shift in transit and often requires additional protection.

That is why the vast majority of carriers don’t provide floor loaded freight option to their clients.

If you have to ship floor loaded goods, make sure to reach out to your logistics provider beforehand.

Reason 3. It is easier to track and count palletized goods

Smart management of capacity and inventory is a must for any warehouse, and pallets help to achieve this goal.

With their help, it is easy to separate goods into units for effective count and track.

Pallets are used in various inventory systems such as pallet barcode scanners.

Doing so, the warehouse staff can efficiently monitor stock as well as manage shipments by the barcode IDs on the shipping pallets.

Reason 4. Pallets make available various storage possibilities

Many helpful innovations in storage became available because of shipping pallets.

The forklift can easily pick up and place shipping pallets on high shelves, opening up a huge amount of storage possibilities.

Modern warehouses are able to store products two, three or even more shelves high with a smart slotting process.

Without shipping pallets, a lot of labor hours is needed to place and remove your goods from high shelves.

Note: the warehouse owner has to be sure that your pallet dimensions fit his warehouse’s storage capacities.

Reason 5. For some goods, shipping pallets can provide needed air circulation

Items like fresh produce need to be stored in special ways so they can breathe.

That is why the gaps on the bottom of a standard pallet are vital for properly storing such goods: they provide that space needed for air currents to get in and out.

If you’re shipping items that need air circulation, pallets offer this benefit in a way that most other cargo organization methods can’t.

Reason 6. The vast majority of shipping pallets are reusable

The better part of shipping pallets can be used multiple times.

If you consider yourself as a person who cares about the environment, committing to recycling or reusing your pallets is a great place to start.

Steel shipping pallet

What are the most important tips for using shipping pallets?

It is not so easy to effectively use pallets while shipping your cargo.

Here are some useful tips which you can use when preparing your freight.

  1. The shipping pallets have to be suitable for the size of the container. If they somehow exceed such limits, the shipping company won’t process your cargo.
  2. You have to pay attention to the pallet load and superposition. If the cargo is too heavy for pallets, it can be easily damaged during transportation.
  3. Some countries’ laws require the use of fumigation or plywood shipping pallets. Such pallets are secured from insects and other environmental effects.
  4. If you stack pallets in several layers, the height of one layer should not exceed 1.1 meters (43 inches). In other cases, the load will be too extensive and the whole construction can break eventually.
  5. The height of pallets for air transportation should not exceed 1.5 meters (59 inches), while the width should not exceed 2.4 meters (94.5 inches). Due to the special construction of aircrafts the requirements for cargo shipping are more strict than in the case of sea/air delivery.
  6. For especially heavy goods, the iron or thick wood shipping pallets should be used. The shipping company won’t process your extra heavy cargo if you don’t use corresponding pallets.
  7. The products on the pallet should not exceed the size of the pallet. Another reason why your delivery can be banned by the shipping company.
  8. Never use pallets with broken boards or protruding nail heads. This can lead to traumas and damage to goods.
  9. Use all the accessible surface of the pallet. It would be more secure and effective to store goods horizontally than vertically.

There are also other nuances about shipping pallets which will be discussed in this FAQ as well.

How does pallet shipping work?

Wooden shipping pallets

The delivery with pallets involved follows the next steps:

  • placing goods or containers on a pallet;
  • securing them using strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap;
  • transporting goods to their final destination.

Simple as that!

What are the types of shipping pallets?

There are two main types of shipping pallets: stringer and block pallets.

Stringer pallets have three long pieces of wood (a stringer) to support the sides and middle, made of parallel boards.

The parallel pieces for block pallets are supported by blocks on the sides and middles of each edge.

Block pallets are commonly known as four-way pallets since they are the same orientation no matter which way they are carried.

They are generally used for heavier shipments because they provide more support for the platform.

We’ll discuss four-way pallets and their features later in this FAQ.

Also, pallets can be distinguished in different types due to the materials used for their manufacturing (e.g. wooden pallets, aluminum pallets, etc.)

Plastic shipping pallet

What is a step-by-step process for preparing shipping pallets?

Let’s have a look at the step-by-step instructions for palletizing your freight for UPS worldwide express freight, LTL shipments, and air freight.

  1. Select pallets. When choosing pallets, select between materials, size, load capacity, etc.
  2. Stack your goods on the pallet. There are several key recommendations for the right packaging which is discussed in the separate question of this article.
  3. Attach shipment to the pallet. Use strapping or banding to secure your shipment and stretch wrap (use a minimum of 60 gauge, five revolutions recommended) to prevent pieces from getting lost or separated from the load.
  4. Label Shipment. Label each pallet with telephone numbers and complete address information including postal code of the shipper and the consignee.

How big are shipping pallets?

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is an international organization which represents the world’s largest companies connected with food, consumer products, and beverages.

This association influences the consumer packaged goods industry around the globe.

Its specialists suggest standard pallet dimensions to be 48″ x 40″ (121 cm x 101 cm).

Such shipping pallets are generally known as GMA pallets.

The next most common pallet dimensions are 42” x 42” (106 x 106 cm) and 48” x 48” (121 x 121 cm) respectively.

Please keep in mind that these are the average figures, and different shipping/storing companies can use shipping pallets with unusual dimensions.

What is a four-way shipping pallet?

Four-way shipping pallet is a huge construction, which includes top deck boards, stringers or stringer boards and blocks, as well as bottom deck boards.

When constructed with blocks, the pallet is known as a true four-way entry pallet and can be entered from each side by various lifters and power jacks.

Four-way shipping pallets provide great strength when required for heavy loads and are generally more robust than two-way pallets.

However, they are quite difficult to repair compared with the two-way type.

Cartboard pallet

How can I protect my palletized shipment from damage?

It is not hard to keep your goods from damage while they are shipped on pallets.

Here is some helpful advice to do so:

  1. Use stretch wrapping (it is a quite effective way to keep all units of a shipment in one place).
  2. Use load protectors (layers of corrugated fiberboard or heavy paperboard that help to evenly distribute the weight of shipments that can be stacked upon one another).
  3. Use corner and edge boards (boards increase vertical sustainability of cargo, prevent damage to edges, and stabilize the load).

What is a flush shipping pallet?

The flush pallet is a pallet built with the boards and stringers or blocks flush along the sides of the pallet in the standard style.

All edges of such pallet are square.

Where can I get shipping pallets?

In the better part of shipping cases, the supplier is a party which has to pack the goods before starting the delivery process.

However, not all companies can provide such services.

Moreover, if you want to buy goods from separate suppliers and pack them as one cargo unit, you have to find the third party which will help you pack altogether.

This is the situation where Bansar specialists can easily help you.

As your trustful freight forwarding agent, we can make sure that your goods will get to you in one piece.

Please keep in mind that Bansar charges additional fees for packaging and stacking goods on pallets.

What are shipping pallets made of?

The vast majority of pallet market is presented with wooden pallets.

The two most common wood types used for making pallets are southern yellow pine and oak.

Also, you can find metal, cardboard and plastic pallets on the market.


How to disassemble wooden shipping pallets?

There are various methods on how to take apart shipping pallets.

Let’s have a closer look at one of them.

Step 1. Choose the pallet which has no visual wear out signs

Although the damaged pallets might be easier to pick apart, the wood is more likely to be damaged after the procedure.

Step 2. Put on some safety goggles, work clothes, and gloves

Please, never neglect your safety while disassembling wooden shipping pallets.

Step 3. Put the pallet up in the way that it would be securely clamped to a surface

It would be much easier to make out the pallet if it would stand steadily.

Step 4. Find the two main vertical pieces of wood on the pallet

The smaller horizontal slats (usually two-by-fours), should be nailed to these pieces to create the top surface of the pallet.

Step 5. Unfasten the nails connecting two-by-fours

You should use some special tools to perform this step (such as a crowbar or saw).

Step 6. Continue disassembling the horizontal bars of the pallet

Please, watch the video below if you want to learn more about the pallets disassemble process.

How are shipping pallets treated?

Why are the pallets shipped overseas marked “HT”/”MB”?

Most of the shipping pallets in the world are treated with pressure and heat while manufacturing.

Such shipping pallets are marked with “HT” sigh.

Also, shipping pallets can have an “MB” mark, which means that they are fumigated with the neurotoxin and carcinogen methyl bromide.

The above-mentioned procedure is needed to secure wooden blocks from insects.

How to dispose of shipping pallets?

First of all, many manufacturers offer return programs so you can simply contact them and arrange the delivery.

In the better part of countries, you can sell used pallets. There are a lot of pallet recycling companies who can buy your shipping pallets.

Let’s mention that shipping pallets are very popular for repurposing. You can use scrap materials from pallets in a billion ways.

Are cardboard pallets good for shipping?

Cardboard pallets are much lighter than wood or plastic constructions.

On average, each cardboard pallet weighing less than 10 kg (22 lbs).

As you may assume, this is the main reason why you can easily handle such pallets.

Also, the lightness of cardboard pallets can help you to reduce shipping costs.

Cardboard pallets are safer than others because there is no risk of damage or injury due to nails.

On the other hand, cardboard pallets are not as robust as wooden structures.

That is why you can’t use cardboard pallets for extra heavy cargo movement.

What are the recycled shipping pallets?

Some types of shipping pallets can be effectively recycled.

As an example, the wooden pallet can be disassembled for scrap wood, turned into yard mulch, or used as boiler fuel.

Pallets in the warehouse

What is the difference between a pallet and a skid?

A skid is a single-deck loading platform which has no bottom deck.

It is a low-profile structure which stands on pedestals attached to the deck.

Skids were quite popular in shipping before the creation of the modern pallet.

How much weight can a shipping pallet hold?

A standard pallet can withstand up to 4.600 lbs (2086 kg) of weight.

The shipping pallet weight is between 30-48 lbs (13.5-21.8 kg).

How high can you stack a pallet for shipping?

If you decide to palletize your cargo, the shipping boxes would be stacked on a pallet in a pattern that allows the most boxes to fit within a reasonable set of dimensions.

According to the international rules, they should be stacked up to five feet high, but not exceed sixty inches total.

Pallet racking system

What are the racks for shipping pallets?

The racking system is a handling storage system created to store goods on pallets in horizontal rows and on multiple levels.

Such shelf is made up of horizontal cross beams that attach to vertical upright frames.

This helps to effectively support palletized material that can be easily accessed by forklifts.

One of the most popular types of pallet racking is “teardrop” pallet rack.

Additional tools like wire decking, column protectors, row spacers, storage bins, racking protectors and safety guards are often used in addition to pallet rack.

How much do shipping pallets cost?

Wood pallets are the most popular type of construction, accounting for roughly 95% of the market.

Logically, pricing for wooden pallets might vary in different countries because of material and manufacturing costs.

As an example, in the USA, the two-way pallet recent pricing has been in the $11.25-12.50 range.

Four-way pallets, on the other hand, cost more, around $25.

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