When it comes to warehousing, there are many things you need to tailor to your specific business model. This is simply because warehouses can be used for any number of things, from long-term storage to be an important link in the eCommerce fulfillment chain. Precisely what you are using a warehouse for will have a massive bearing on every aspect of warehousing, from order picking to cross-docking and even to what type of pallets you use and how you use them.
The last of these might seem one of the simplest things to get right – pallets are, after all, just square pieces of wood for moving things around on, right? In fact, this simplest and most “low-tech” of warehouse equipment is actually surprisingly versatile and varied. To see the most effective use of pallets for your particular operation, it is important to know what different kinds of pallets there are and for what they are used.
What is a Pallet?
There is no need to waste too much space here but understanding what qualifies as a pallet is important for understanding how they can vary and be used in different contexts. A pallet is a rigid wooden frame upon which a load is placed. They are so shaped to be easily picked up by the forks of a forklift truck. They are also standardized in shape and size, and this happens to be a particularly important aspect of understanding the use of pallets. They essentially offer warehouse mobility – the ability to transport goods in, out of, and around the warehouse.
An understanding of unit load is important for understanding the use of pallets and what types you might need. This concept goes back to the fact that pallets are standardized in shape and size. The height of the load placed upon a pallet is also something that is typically standardized across a warehouse, and this configuration of pallet size, height, and weight of the load is known as the unit load. Unit loads are how warehouse stock is measured. Warehouse logistics will always work in “unit loads” of stock.
Types of Pallets
Shipping and Handling of Texas, an eCommerce fulfillment service out of Houston, say that unit loads can – and often – vary. And this variance is, of course, related to the type of pallet used. Here follows the two most commonly found pallets in warehouses:
As you might guess from the name, this is the type of pallet that is most commonly found in European warehouses. It measures at 1200×800 mm. Given the extent of trade with European countries, you will find this pallet, and its equivalent unit load, in many American warehouses too. The safe load weight to move is 1500kg.
Used not only in American warehouses but Japanese ones too, the American pallet is considerably larger, measuring 1200×1000 mm. It is perhaps the most common pallet found obviously in the American warehouses but internationally too. Despite the difference in size, the safe workload to move is, just like the European pallet, 1500kg.
A Note About Entry Points
Pallets do not just vary by size, though. Another thing that classifies pallets is the number of entry points. The two categories here are four-way entry pallets and two-way entry pallets. As you might expect, this refers to the sides at which a forklift can enter and lift the pallet.
Pallets are fairly unsophisticated warehouse equipment, and it is pretty easy to settle on the right ones for you to use them effectively. Nevertheless, despite being simple bits of wood, they can be surprisingly varied.