Pallet Stability : A Fixable Cost

Warehouse Space

Improving Pallet Stability to Reduce Loss During Transport

The transportation of goods has dramatically increased due to consumer behavior. Product losses during transit are common with most retailers assuming some loss will occur with most shipments. The costs of these losses are incalculable. Reducing product damage in transport will save companies a substantial amount of money.

The key to reducing these losses is pallet load stability, the ability of the load to remain upright when subjected to the acceleration and braking during transport. Poorly stacked and/or improperly wrapped loads will shift during handling. In addition to product losses, these unstable loads can put wear and tear on equipment due to uneven weight distribution as well as become a safety hazard to employees.

The type of pallet used determines the weight limit. Wood stringer pallets have a maximum load capacity of approximately 2,500 lbs., wood block pallets 2,800 lbs., and plastic pallets can handle a 5,000-pound pallet load capacity.

The pattern used when stacking product will greatly determine the load stability. An interlocked pattern resembles a brick wall and columnar stacking is the stacking of cartons on top of one another in straight columns from the pallet deck to the top of the stack. A columnar pattern provides greater compressive strength for stacking in storage, but the interlocking pattern resists lateral motion better.

Research completed by students at California Polytechnic State University and published in the Journal of Applied Packing Research provide valuable insights in understanding a unit load’s response to shocks and shifts commonly experienced during distribution activities.

The researchers used Niagara Bottling’s best practice stack and pallet pattern specifications for their tests:

24 .5L PET water bottles, polyethylene shrink film, timber block pallet, stretch wrap with a  wrap pattern of 11 total revolutions, 2 additional top wraps. The stacking patterns tested used layer patterns “A” and “B”, 6 tiers, AABBAA and AAAABB. The tests includes a tilt test and an incline impact test.

In both tests, the AABBAA pattern was substantially more stable.

Package design can also impact pallet stability. According to Smithers, the top 5 areas to consider when designing packaging are:

Pallet utilization

Case perforations

Stretch wrap

Pallet pattern

KTI LTD is an asset-based, third-party logistics provider with multiple southeast locations. Some of our warehouse services include custom packaging, repackaging, shrink wrapping, and quality inspection. See a full list of our services here: https://www.ktiltd.com/test/warehouse-transportation-services/


Sing, Saha, Sewell, & Newton. Evaluation of Stability of Unit Loads for Tilt and
Shock Events During Distribution

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