Although the pallet is clearly the fundamental unit load of the shipping industry, there is an outstanding variety of pallet types out there. Aside from 6 separate pallet dimensions acknowledged by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), there are several pallet designs, as well as materials to consider.
Given so many variables, one can easily get confused by the sheer variety. The latter is a potential pitfall for warehouse managers, as they must ensure the most appropriate structures are used to hold their merchandise. In this article, you’ll be able to read more about the major different types of pallets currently in circulation.
Different Pallet Designs
First off, there are a number of pallet designs managers must be aware of. If they don’t know what to look for, some of them might easily pass by unnoticed when received in a shipment. The problem is that certain racking designs make it very difficult to handle merchandise in some warehouses, depending on the racking system that is in place. According to design, here are the major types of pallets:
Block-based designs. They can easily be recognized as those types of pallets whose top and bottom decks are separated by blocks of wood. They’ll often have both perpendicular and parallel stringers in order to improve forklift handling.
Stringer designs. Instead of blocks, stringer designs will have runners between the two decks, namely pieces of wood that extend alongside the full length of the pallet.
Four-way block/stringer pallet. One of the most common types of block/stringer pallets, these are easily recognizable by the fact that they can be handled from all sides.
Two-way entry pallet. Another frequent design, this type of pallet allows entry from two sides by means of un-notched stringers.
Solid deck pallet. This distinct pallet uses solid decks instead of individual deck boards to support weight.
Double-wing pallet. These are the pallets whose deck boards extend beyond the edge of their stringers or blocks.
Flush pallet. These can be recognized by their deck boards, which flush along the sides of the structure.
(Non-)Reversible pallet. The non-reversible type means that only the top side can be used for storage, whereas reversible pallets allow for goods to be stored on either side.
Single-wing pallet. This is a sort of a combination between wing and flush, as the bottom deck boards flush, whereas the top ones extend beyond the edges of the structure.
Different Pallet Measurements
The six main types of pallets according to their measurements are:
The North American GMA. One of the most used dimension in the U.S., 40×48 inches.
Standard European Pallet. Similar to the NA GMA, but for Europe. Its dimensions are 39.37 by 47.24 inches.
Australian Pallet. The standard pallet dimensions for New Zealand and Australia are 45.90 by 45.90 inches.
Telecommunications and Paint. For these industries, pallets of 42 by 42 inches are used in the EU, NA, and Asian regions.
Asian Pallet, 43.30 by 43.30 inches.
Doorway Pallet. This is the European pallet developed to cater specifically for SMEs, as it can fit through doorways and no special storage facility is needed; 31.50 by 47.24 inches.
Different Pallet Materials
Finally, pallets can also be made of several different materials, some of which are more suitable for storage in certain conditions.
Wood. This is the most common type of pallet. Some of the strongest arguments in favor of wood are durability, affordability of raw material, as well as easy maintenance and repairs. They’re commonly employed as one-way use in freights with high-capacity merchandise.
Presswood or engineered wood is a pallet manufactured as a single solid block. By eliminating the need and presence of nails and other binders, these lightweight structures can easily be recycled. Their downside is vulnerability to water and humidity.
Plywood. These pallets are ideal for light to medium weight merchandise, while also being more resilient than the presswood variety.
Metal. Usually made of aluminum or stainless steel, these pallets have incredibly high durability and re-usage value, since they do not degrade as easily as wooden varieties. A preferred choice for the food industry.
Plastic. Stable, safe, and versatile, plastic offers a middle-way between wood and metal. A lifespan of over ten years makes them a great option for any business. Their biggest drawback is that they cannot be easily repaired.
Corrugated Board. These are perfect for easy, one-way shipments (up to 750 kg). They are lightweight and completely recyclable, but have no resilience against weather conditions.