A manufacturer sands a wood pallet

The Ultimate Guide to Pallet Shipping

It’s a pallet world, and we’re all just living in it. Seriously though, there’s more than 1.8 billion pallets circulating the US as we speak, not including the millions of pallets used internationally.

So what is the shipping pallet all about? You’ve surely seen the Pinterest posts about all sorts of funky DIY pallet projects, but in the logistics industry they actually play a huge role.

Just a simple wooden structure? I don’t think so. In this post, we’ll give you the 101 on pallet shipping.

What is pallet shipping?

First, let’s start with what a pallet is and what it’s used for. 

Pallets are commonly made from wood, but can also be made using plastic, metal, paper or recycled materials. A pallet is a simple platform structure used to package goods for shipping via ship, drayage or rail. The standard pallet size is 40 x 48, but other sizes are available.

Pallets are important packaging tools for shipping, mainly because they offer protection for traveling freight. Their portable shape is versatile for stacking, lifting and storing. 

They offer a more secure and stable packaging model that reduces the chance of damages, especially when being handled by a forklift or crane. Goods are secured to a pallet using a special wrap to hold everything in place.

The benefits of a shipping pallet

Shipping pallets improve supply chain efficiency, because they…

  • Protect goods
  • Save space in containers
  • Improved organization
  • Versatile functions
  • Abundant & cost effective
  • Reusable

A brief history of the wooden pallet

The wooden pallet was invented by Howard T. Hallowell in 1924, when he filed a patent for the Lift Truck Platform.

But, the humble pallet would evolve over time. In the 1930s, forklifts made their debut, and this made the pallet more common. 

By the end of the 1930s new features would be added to the design that are still in use today, such as steel stringers and the pallet jack design.

How much does it cost for a pallet?

Pallets come in all sizes and materials, offering various features depending on what you’re shipping. On average, the price range for a pallet is anywhere between $4 and $200. Let’s break it down.

Wood stringer pallets 

These tend to be the most common and inexpensive option at around $12 per pallet, depending on whether it’s used or new. But keep in mind that it comes with its own set of disadvantages, such as a shorter lifespan, wooden fragments, loose nails and other potential damages.

Plastic pallets

These pallets cost a little more, but they last longer and can be recycled. If you’re trying to implement greener shipping practices, then know that they are made out of recycled plastics that can be dropped off at a plastic pallet recycler when you’re finished.

You can even rent plastic pallets to better manage the logistics and collaborate with other shipping companies, who can take over your pallets once they arrive at your destination.

Conclusion: Pallets ROCK!

Ahh the little wooden pallet that seems to be everywhere is a rockstar that not only serves as a nifty DIY project, but actually plays a major role in how we ship goods safely and securely. 

They come in all sizes and materials, giving companies options for packaging. 

Best of all, they are recyclable, making them a great eco-friendly packaging choice to reduce your shipping carbon footprint.

The Ultimate Guide to Pallet Shipping
Courtney L.
January 27, 2021

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