There are billions of pallets circulating through the world’s supply chains, delivering Honey Nut Cheerios to your grocery store and penicillin to your doctor. They’re in the holds of tractor-trailers, stacked behind supermarkets and on construction sites. You might even see one in your neighbor’s basement. And though they’re not as visible as containers, Pallets are as integral to our economy as any other shipping tool.
The National Wood Products Association estimates that wooden pallets account for about 80 percent of all pallets in use.1 They’re a critical link in the global supply chain, transporting more than half of the nation’s goods and services and moving 2.4 trillion pounds of goods each year.
In the world of industrial logistics, a pallet is a platform that allows goods to be moved efficiently and safely from a manufacturer or producer to distribution centers, warehouses and stores. There are various types of pallets, but the most common are wood and plastic. Each type of pallet has its own unique characteristics that make it more or less appropriate for certain types of cargo and shipping conditions.
Wooden pallets can be made of a variety of materials, but they’re mostly constructed of lumber that has undergone a treatment process. During the treatment, the wood is bonded together by glue, heat or chemicals. This prevents rotting and insect infestations. The type of wood and the treatment used are important factors in determining the overall quality and cost of a pallet.
The most commonly seen pallet is the four-way entry pallet. This is the most popular and versatile type of pallet, capable of transporting a wide range of loads. It has three runners and a bottom deck board and is suitable for boxes, cartons and crates. This pallet can also be stacked on top of itself, which is useful for bulk containers and drums.
Unlike the four-way entry pallet, two-way entry pallets have only two entrance points and can only be used on one side at a time. This limitation makes them less efficient for applications that require frequent directional changes during loading and unloading. They’re best suited for items that are stable and can be easily maneuvered by mechanical equipment or manual handling.
For more durable pallet options, you may want to look into high-density polyethylene (commonly referred to as HPDE) pallets. These are more durable than traditional wood pallets, able to support a greater load weight. These are also ideal for high-valued goods, such as electronics and pharmaceuticals.
When shopping for pallets, it’s important to consider how long they’ll be in use and whether or not the wood has been treated with methyl bromide, an herbicide that can lead to dioxin exposure and cancer. According to the NWPCA, it’s possible to tell if a pallet has been treated with MB by checking its IPPC stamp. Pallets with an MB will be stained black or red, while those without the chemical will be clear or white.