Plastic pallets are among the most popular packaging materials for companies that have a constant flow of product shipments. They have a long useful life, a low total cost of ownership and help create compact and stable stacks of products. This last characteristic means that companies can reduce their logistics costs (lower shipping fees) and operational losses (damaged products in transit).
However, you can achieve all these benefits only by making the right choices in how to use plastic pallets. In a previous article, we covered the basics of how to secure loads on plastic pallets. Today, the packaging experts at Logistic Packaging want to focus on the number one cause for both damaged products and damaged pallets: inadequate palletization.
Why Do Pallet Configurations Matter So Much?
Merchandize in transit is not handled with gentle care, except for the case when special instructions are given in this respect – but in this case the shipping cost move up to a premium tier. Loaded plastic pallets are handled quickly by forklift. The truck drives as fast as allowed by the speed limit and the traffic on uneven and bumpy roads. Unless the stacked products are tightly packed together in a solid and stable unit, they will wobble and eventually topple to one side.
Of course, you can add various load securing accessories, like EPS foam, dividers and straps. But they will make the total load larger in volume and heavier – hence, higher shipping costs.
Here accurate pallet configurations come in handy. By choosing the right pattern for arranging the products on the pallet you can achieve both stack stability and a smaller, compact size of the packing unit.
To help you make the right choice, we prepared a short and comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts in placing merchandize on plastic pallets:
DO: Use the Same Type of Pallets for Each Shipment
Unless you are a small distributor shipping to local supermarkets, your order shipments consist of several loaded pallets. In this case, we are speaking of a packing unit as a whole, consisting of all the pallets you place in the trailer. If they don’t match in size (you send several 1200×800 mm plastic pallets and several 600×400 mm pallets) they will not fit perfectly one next to the other in the truck.
The gaps between pallets are just as dangerous as the gaps between products on the pallets. This is why you should always work with a professional packaging company that will provide you with a sufficient number of plastic pallets of the same size, perfectly adapted to your needs.
DON’T: Allow Products to Hang Out of the Plastic Pallet
Is a specific product too large to fit properly on the pallet? This is a sign that your pallets are not adapted to your needs. Allowing products to jut out of the sides of the pallet is a sure recipe for disaster. Sooner or later, that product will bump into an adjacent stack, causing damage.
In professional packaging “nearly fits” is not an acceptable term. The stack must be firmly contained within the surface of the plastic pallet in order to ensure safe transportation for your products.
DO: Adapt Palletization to Each Type of Product
There are several palletization patterns accepted as best practices: the pinwheel stack, the block stack and the tapered stack are some of them. Each pattern is ideal for specific products. For example, the block stack is recommended for distribution totes, order shipping crates and tool cases.
DON’T: Use the Pyramidal Stack Pattern
This stacking pattern has unfortunately become popular because this is how supermarkets choose to display their products. This shape is ideal for showcasing items in the store, but it is completely unreliable and unstable for a stack of products on the move.
The pyramidal loading pattern creates large gaps between pallets – and this also means an overall larger volume taken by your shipment in the trailer and, by consequence, more expensive shipping fees.
DO: Opt for a Cubic Shape Whenever You Can
The cube is the most solid and stable packing unit. It is easy to handle and can be tightly and efficiently arranged inside the trailer. It is tempting to try and cut shipping costs by using fewer plastic pallets. However a very high stack will become unstable. Plus, you may exceed the maximum loading capacity of the pallet and it will break. The ideal height of the stack is equal to the long side of the pallet (i.e., 1200 mm stack height for an 1200×800 mm plastic pallet).
The team at Logistic Packaging can help you optimize your shipping costs and reduce loss by using the adequate professional packaging materials. Get in touch with us by email or live Skype video call and discover the best packaging solutions for your specific products!