Optimising your Pallet Process

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High volume dispatch operators are likely to be using pallets to load and dispatch items every day and so getting the best value out of transportation cost and pallet space, becomes a very important element within the business. It is advisable to use packaging that can be stacked neatly to ensure effective use of the pallet length and height area.

In order to get the best use out of your pallet space, consider using a consistent size in both pallet and packaging, this way you can be sure variance is kept to a minimum and everything is neatly aligned.

optimising pallet process

Loading a pallet 

According the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standard European pallet sizes come in the following: 1200 x 1000mm, 1200 x 800mm, 800 x 600mm.

In most cases where the shipment naturally determines the size pallet to use, it is important to check that you’re not being overcharged for shipping an irregular sized pallet when you don’t need to be.

But if you find that you are dispatching the same product multiple times consider using the same sized pallet and carton where possible to help achieve consistency across the board. This way pallet optimisation is achieved in a cost effective way as you avoid paying excessive transportation charges.

In the long run this can help operators pack faster as they would no longer have to spend time trying to figure out which carton to use for each order.

For a business in the manufacturing industry, standardisation is key!

  • Using all the pallet space and making use of the max height
  • Using a consistent size box (link to pallet optimised boxes)

Securing a pallet

To secure a packaged product on a pallet in place effectively consider using stretch wrap. This layer of protection secures the contents of a pallet in place and limits transit movement when being moved from one location to another.

By investing in damage prevention products, you can save yourself the hassle of having to manage returns or credit notes because a pallet was not secured efficiently. It is crucial pallets are well secured before arriving to the customer, after all a damaged parcel even up till the point of arrival is still the senders’ responsibility.

In combination with other pallet protection accessories like edge and corner protectors, the contents of a pallet can be even better protected to prevent transit damage.

By using a strapping machine to secure pallets, you not only free up man power from manual stretch wrapping but increase the speed of the dispatching process. With a stretch wrapping machine, you not only maximise the strength of the film as the machine stretches the film to the fullest capabilities, but with the inbuilt sensors the machine can be left unmanned whilst it completes the strapping process.

For businesses packing their products into cartons, pallet edge and corner protectors are extremely helpful in securing and stabilising pallets. These packaging options protect the exposed corners from impact and make for a much more evenly distributed stretch wrapping process.

With different strapping options available, reducing pallet damage can be easily achieved. With various edge protecting options available in different strengths there are suitable choices to suit different products. The different options include plastic, cardboard and foam, with alternative options available including polyester, polypropylene or steel material for more specific heavy duty consignments.

Storing a pallet

If your business has ‘ready-to-send’ pallets stocked in the warehouse then you may already be aware of the benefits of using strapping and anti-slips sheets to secure the contents of a pallet in place during transit. However have you consider using stretch wrap during storage…? This time saving strategy avoids having to take the pallet out of stock just to pallet wrap and essentially means pallets are dispatch ready once an order has been placed.

In line from the above point, stretch film is useful for damage prevention and a great preserving tool when pallets are kept in storage over a considerable time period.

Pallet covers on the other hand are great for spacious warehouses and commercial environments that utilise outdoor space to store products. Waterproof by nature, they protect products from dust and operational damage, dirt and moisture.

Asides helping operatives identify stock rotation easier, pallet optimisation can be easily improved with the use of efficient identification labels, for both locations and products. So, consider if your business is using warehouse labels in a clear way…

Most often businesses loading packages onto a pallet forget to fully utilise the maximum dimensions of the pallet.  With the length and width determined by the type of pallet being used, the height on the other hand is the most variable dimension on the pallet. Suppliers and couriers often use different maximum pallet heights, often dependent on the racking height in their warehouse or the max height available on the trailer. The industry standard is around 2 meters high, meaning operators can continue to stack until they reach this point. So, to get the most of your pallet footprint, be sure to check the maximum pallet height and avoid shipping air.

Moving a pallet

With a pallet loaded and secured, it is ready to be placed onto the courier ready to be delivered to the customer. However often times damages occur prior to the pallet leaving the warehouse and so moving a pallet successfully is just as important as storing it securely.

And so, with the right handling and access tools to move a pallet, damage can be minimised. For more spacious environments consider using forklifts or pallet trucks. Should you consider the fully electric versions, be aware of the costs with regular training, equipment certification and risk assessments needed as well as the ongoing maintenance and materials needed to keep them running. For less spacious environments, hand pallet trucks can be very efficient!

When a pallet moves onto the transportation stage damage is most likely to occur, but if everything has been completed efficiently you should have no cause to worry, with your pallet arriving in the same condition as it left your warehouse!

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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