How to Effectively Use Pallets When Loading Vehicles or Containers

May 18, 2019 Kevin Hill Kevin Hill

Wooden pallets are used for effective consolidation of packages, packaging and fastening of goods during transportation from abroad. The effectiveness of the pallet lies in the possibility of their reuse, universality, low cost (pallets are made of any species of low quality wood, which ensures accessibility without loss of physical characteristics). Pallets can significantly simplify and speed up the process of loading and unloading certain types of goods, as well as increase safety when delivered.

A pallet is a flat stand for rectangular and other types of cargo. It provides bottom slots for fork loader and protrusions for slings provided for moving on weight. Pallets are used in freight traffic, through which they form enlarged cargo units. CCU represent a certain amount of goods held together in some way, and are used to speed up the loading and unloading operations.

Types of pallets

There are several types of pallets, and one of the most common is europallet. Standard europallets are 1200x800x145. The upper part consists of 5 boards: 3 wide (145 mm), 2 narrow (100 mm), alternating in width. The lower part consists of three boards: two narrow on the sides, wide in the middle. There is a pallet on 9 legs, the extreme ones have dimensions of 78x100x145 mm, medium ones - 78x145x145 mm.

The dimensions of standard europallets correspond to the internal dimensions of the containers. On the right legs of the pallets there is necessarily the EUR brand mark in the oval. The most common are wooden pallets. Standard europallets sizes are defined by the international standard UIC435-2.

Currently, pallets are made of wood, plastic, chipboard and metal. Pallets vary in weight. The weight of the europallet 1200x800 is not specified by the standard, so they can be made of various materials. The most common wooden pallets weigh from 15 to 20 kg, the weight of wooden double-sheeting pallets is up to 40 kg. The carrying capacity of the europallets 1200x800, made of wood, depends on its sort. For the transportation of light goods, for example, clothes, lightweight wooden pallets of the same sizes are used. The weight of lightweight europallets 1200 * 800 ranges from 8-10 kg. Such a pallet can withstand a weight of up to 2.5 tons in a static state and up to 1 ton in motion. The maximum allowed carrying capacity of standard europallets is 2 tons.

The load can be secured on the pallet in three ways:

  1. special packing, in which the weight is held by its own weight, suitable for heavy objects (for example, bags of sugar flour, gold bars);

  2. binding fixing tapes, tapes must be durable (can be metal, polymer, woven);

  3. wrapping cargo with a special film, most often with a stretch film. The maximum height of euro pallets with a load is 1.8 m.

Standard pallets

The most commonly used types are EUR and FIN pallets, as described before. Here are more details:

Standard pallet sizes in inches and millimeters


1000 mm is converted as 39.37 inches.

Here are some of them:

  • Euro pallet (EUR-pallet) - 800x1200x145mm

  • Finpallets (FIN-pallet, Finnish pallet) - 1000x1200x145mm

  • Eurobox (EUR-box) - metal cage with a base in the form of europallet, size 800x1200x800mm

According to ISO 6780, typical dimensions of the wooden pallet: 1000x1200x145 mm (Wx LxH). For their production, boards of 10 or 12 cm width are taken. The weight of standard pallets depends on the mass of the elements (bars, planks), which, in turn, determines the type and origin of wood, and humidity indicators.

Pallets made from dense, heavy wood can reach 24 kg. If dried porous array blanks are used, the weight of the final product will be 10 kg or less. The load capacity of wooden pallets ranges from 1000 to 2500 kg.

Main dimensions and tolerances are given in the table.


Wide and short pallets

Especially for work with dimensional cargoes pallets of 1200х1200 mm are produced. Such products are practically not used in cargo transportation; they are used in warehouses and production workshops. Wide reinforced pallets are made of boards from 18 to 25 mm thick, their assembly is carried out by means of high-strength twisted nails.

The shortened (lightweight) pallets are 1200x800 mm in size. Such belong to the category of the cheapest, universal in application. Flat four-way pallets of 1200x800 mm are widely used due to low price, good performance. They have a lifting capacity of up to 1 ton, and weight of up to 40 kg.

American Pallets

Talking of standard sizes in North America, it is reasonable to to begin with think almost the bed estimate 48×40 inches (1219×1016 mm), which got to be well known within the 1960s. The 48×40 inch bed is one of the six standard ISO bed sizes (see underneath). Arrange bed GMA has long been the informal "standard" for high-speed supply chains for buyer merchandise (FMCG), in spite of the fact that for decades in such beds there were critical contrasts in terms of the thickness and width of the components, the quality of stumble, wood species, affixing materials, the operation of apparatus and the resistance to harm. Since of this changeability, it is imperative to report nitty gritty desires for beds to providers or shippers. GMA pallets are ordinarily sold as unused or utilized (recycled).

The utilize of 48×40 inch pallets has too spread within the supply chains of customer products within the late 1990s and early 2000s thanks to CHEP pallets rental companies, and after that PECO, which made them effectively available to clients within the US (at the time, these pallets were well known in other supply chains, as well as in Europe). One address that emerges concerns the estimate of the CHEP pallets. In North America, the standard CHEP estimate is 48×40 inches. Most as of late, a 24×40 inch semi-pallet was presented. Canada ordinarily offers a 48×20 inches CHEP pallet. At the universal level, CHEP pallet sizes ordinarily meet existing or created benchmarks within the locale of utilize.

Nowadays, almost 30% of US beds are 48 × 40 inches. Well known measurements are appeared underneath, based on thinks about conducted numerous a long time prior at Southern Illinois College. Take note that they are recorded in width in length, and not in length in width, as given afterward in this article:


Common pallet sizes in the United States


How many pallets fit into a container

Since the size of a standard pallet is 1200x800x145 mm, this allows you to load 11 euro pallets into a standard 20-foot container in one tier. The width of the container does not allow to place the pallets in two rows equally (along or across the body), therefore, in the first row they put 7 pallets across, and in the second - 4 pallets along the body.

The 40-foot container includes 23-24 europallets. In the same way as in a 20-foot container, one row of pallets is placed across the body, so you can put up to 11 pieces.

In a standard tilt truck with a length of 13.6 m, you can place 32 euro pallets if they stand with the long side across the body (16 rows of 2 pallets - 0.8 x 16 = 12.8 m) or 33 if the pallets stand with a short side - "triples" (11 rows 3 pallets 11x1.2 = 13.2 m). In the second case, the load will be stronger.

Containers of any other size are loaded as to preliminary calculations according to the size of a standard pallet and vehicle parameters on the same principle. Cargo standing on a pallet should not protrude beyond the edges. Wooden europallets must be durable to withstand the weight of the load.

This is how the arrangement of pallets inside a 20- and 40-foot container (respectively) looks schematically. More location options can be found on the pallet types page.

The use of pallets in freight traffic

The very first pallet can be called a skid. It began to be used in the early twentieth century in American factories for the purpose of consolidation packages for the carriage of weapons. Skid is a wooden board with boards attached on the sides. Over time, the skid was improved, and in 1925 another shield had been nailed to the boards, which was the prototype of the modern pallet.

It is important to distinguish between the pallets and cargo space. In the international traffic in the shipping documents often indicate the number of packages. This should imply any unit of cargo that can be overloaded without repackaging.



Nowadays, the use of pallets during transportation has become widespread. This is primarily due to the automation of the loading/unloading processes, as well as concern for the safety of the goods. Thanks pallet cargo is delivered in one piece without any problems of reloading.


Pallet loading with a forklift

Cargo pallets can be classified according to different parameters. So, depending on the service life, you can select disposable and multi-turn pallets. After using disposable pallets, they are disposed of, and multi-turn pallets are used in further activities. Reuse in this case does not affect the degradation of the properties and characteristics of the pallet itself.

By the number of grips for a forklift, there are two-way and four-way pallets. The loader pallets pick up the loader from two opposite sides, four loaders - from four sides. Thus, the likelihood of damage to the cargo during loading is minimized.



Pallets are made from various materials. The most common material today is wood. Such pallets are environmentally friendly, are subject to easy repair and have a relatively low cost. But very often wooden pallets are forced out by plastic ones. Such pallets have less weight, do not lend themselves to rotting processes and are easily stored. Metal pallets are also very durable, but due to the large mass their use is limited. There are also combined pallets that have the advantages of all of the listed materials.

Pallets are also classified by the number of sites for the placement of goods. Pallets are single-coated and double-coated. On pallets of the first type they place the cargo on one of their sides. Duplex pallets have two tiers, which allows you to place more products on one pallet.

To any type of pallet cargo is attached by laying (the cargo retains itself due to its weight), due to linking the pallet with fasteners (tapes of fabric, polymers or metal), due to wrapping the cargo with a pallet in stretch or shrink film.


Why standard pallets are important?

Standard-sized pallets can be imperative to extend conveyance productivity and adaptability, for illustration, when the different joins within the supply chain and fabric dealing with hardware are optimized to handle the estimate of a specific standard. The utilize of trucks, warehousing and indeed dispersion in retail, as well as working with forklifts and other dealing with hardware can be superior optimized much obliged to standard measurements. Adaptability comes into play with regard to the ease of pulling in elective supply chain accomplices, where all interested parties utilize a standard pallet.

With respect to the conveyance of pallets, the utilize of standard pallets such as GMA pallets or EPAL pallets, permits you to scale any exchanging commerce and compete effectively. As a result, pallet buyers frequently get competitive costs. Essentially, standard pallets are for the most part in tall request, so pallet processors are propelled to gather and repair them for resale. Standard utilize of pallets encourages recuperation and reuse.

On the other hand, when acknowledged bed sizes are institutionalized and supply chains are optimized to handle them, resistance to advancements that veer from guidelines may appear.


Automate stuffing with a load calculator

To facilitate the process of optimizing the load is convenient to use SeaRates load calculator, which can work effectively with any pallet size, both standard and any other, because The user can specify the size at his discretion.

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Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. Besides his day job, he loves to write about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimized performance from different scales in different situations. Previously written for Frooition, Retail Insight, Inbound Logistics, and a few other sites as well. Has a great expertise in international transportation, innovations and keeps it in the loop. He enjoys spending time with family and going on camping trips.

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