It is absolutely necessary to use the pallet in the three following cases: when the load weight of the shipment exceeds 50 kg, or when the shipment consists of a significant number of small cardboard boxes, or when non-standard size items are to be shipped. Or when the items to be shipped are extremely prone to damage. Below you will find guidelines on how to prepare a pallet shipment to be sent by courier.
First of all you should have a proper pallet for your shipment and that means you have to choose the proper size and the proper material.
What to choose – wood, cardboard, plastic or styrofoam?
It takes more time to think over the choice of a pallet to be used for international shipments. As you have to take care of two factors – the properties of a given material which will provide adequate strength for the load and at the same time the weight of the pallet itself. Of course the lighter the better. This is especially important with air cargo, where every kilogram less counts significantly in freight rates. Thus, light and very durable pallets made of cardboard or polystyrene are the perfect solution. Additionally, they are hygienic and do not require antifungal treatments, which means you are not bothered with such pre-treatment as heat treatment or fumigation as in the case of wooden pallets.
The most popular choice for the majority of shipments are cheap and durable wooden pallets, however plastic pallets are increasingly being used in Poland. You can read about their advantages and disadvantages here (“Wood or plastic? The advantages and disadvantages of different types of pallets”).
Planning: only the algorithm can arrange perfectly
You choose the sizes of the pallets so as to fit the dimensions of the load (goods or packages) to be put on them. If you have to pack one or two pallets a week or the dimensions of your packages are the same all the time, you can totally rely on intuition and experience.
However, if your package sizes differ or you use different types of pallets, stacking the boxes on a pallet as flat as possible, like you would bricks (to improve pallet stability), can be very difficult. And the difficulty increases proportionally to the number of pallets to be prepared and inversely proportional to the time available.
In such a situation, it is definitely worth using the algorithms that plan packaging (“Pack it right or die. Optimising the packaging process is not a choice, it is a necessity”). They will provide you with the optimal arrangement of boxes on the pallet and create a pictorial layout instruction for the packer. They will also ensure that the total cargo weight does not exceed the maximum weight capacity. Thus you will speed up the packaging process and make better use of space (boxes, pallets, containers or trucks), which will result in saving a lot of time and money.
Benefits: they will not place goods upside down
Regardless of which pallet you choose, it will always provide a better guarantee that your parcel will not be thrown around (machines do not do it, and people are not strong enough). Nobody will put it upside down – unintentionally or intentionally, because it’s too difficult and does not make any sense.
Of course, you can press the pallet too much with the forklift truck or drop it on a hard surface with a bang. However, there is less chance for items to be damaged when being delivered on a pallet.
Pallet protection: is stretch good for everything?
If you want to make the most of the pallet shipment advantages, you have to avoid packing errors (“How to secure a courier parcel? 3 core principles for optimal parcel packaging”). If you have a stack of well packed cardboard boxes on the pallet, you may use stretch wrap as an effective way to keep all pieces of a shipment together – stable and secure.
To provide additional effective protection to your cargo, you may use a pallet cardboard box or container (wooden or plastic box, polystyrene box, metal pallet cage etc.) adjusted to the size of a given pallet.
Of course, if the item to be shipped on a pallet does not have its own packaging, you have to start the packaging process with the protection of either sensitive parts or the entire item against damage. You can use bubble wrap, air cushions and mats, paper, sponge, polystyrene or foam (“Don’t tuck newspapers into the box! We choose parcel fillers for pros”) and then secure the whole load with stretch wrap. It holds the filler in place and provides a protective coating against mechanical and weather damage.
Stretch wrap is also great for ensuring that goods on a pallet are stable. A twist of the wrap results in a strong binding. You have to avoid overhang when placing objects with non-standard shapes on a pallet. It is also important to ensure that the centre of gravity of the load is as close as possible to the centre of the pallet. This will result in better stability of the whole pallet, and consequently, in lower risk of damage, especially during loading and unloading.
Then you have to wrap the whole load (excluding the bottom of the pallet so as to avoid puncture by a fork lift truck), overlapping and moving from bottom to top and back. And the last things – you have to wrap the whole load with packing tape, put required labels on and you’re ready to go!