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About Timber Pallets

 timber pallet

Timber pallets are perceived to be a simple and traditional means of shipping products from A to B. However, the wooden pallet sector is a sophisticated and versatile segment of the timber transit packaging industry worth around £220 million annually. It is estimated that there are around 2 billion wooden pallets in circulation worldwide, with up to 90 million in the UK alone. Over 95% of all shipments made in the UK are carried out using wooden pallets, with a similar majority used for exports.

Why Source Timber Pallets from NICKLIN?

Specification, design and manufacture of timber pallets is a core activity of our business. We have an enviable reputation with almost one hundred years experience and market knowledge, supplying timber pallets and innovative transit packaging solutions to clients across a wide range of industry sectors.

Specification and Design of Timber Pallets

Careful consideration when specifying and designing timber pallets ensures the optimum and most cost-effective means of transportation and storage of products across the complete distribution process. Using the most appropriate pallet for the application in which it is used minimises the risk of product damage during transit, maximises the use of available transport space, optimises handling and storage efficiency and helps towards compliance to health and safety and environmental regulations.

Most companies use a bespoke design for their wooden pallets, specified and manufactured to meet the exact requirements of their application. However, there are universally accepted ‘standard’ sized pallets which are designed to make best use of standard trailer space. The most commonly used pallet sizes are 1200 x 800 mm (Euro pallet size) and 1200 x 1000 mm (most commonly used ‘standard’ sized pallet).

Two-Way Entry Pallets or Four-Way Entry Pallets?
Timber pallets fall into two general categories;

Two-Way Entry Pallets - allow access from two directions only.

Four-Way Entry Pallets - allow access from all four sides of the pallet.

Consider whether it is necessary for you, your shipper or the end-user to access your pallet from all four sides or from two directions only. Whilst Two-Way Entry Pallets offer greater strength, Four-Way Entry Pallets offer greater flexibility.

Specifying the Dimensions of Timber Pallets
The dimensions of timber pallets are always expressed in the format of;

Length x Width x Height (in millimetre units)

  • Length refers to the length of the Top Deck Boards
  • Width refers to the dimension that is at right angles to the Length 
  • Height is measured from the floor to the uppermost point of the pallet

Products Transported on the Timber Pallets

The type, quantity, size and weight of the products being palletised, the way in which the products are packaged and the manner in which they are stacked on the pallet determines the design of the Top Deck Boards and the necessary working load requirements and weight distribution of the pallet.

Some companies choose to use ‘pallet boxes’ to transport their products. This consists of a heavy duty corrugated case mounted onto a wooden pallet to add protection to the products, minimise movement of the consignment during transit or storage and facilitate safe handling.

Working Load of Timber Pallets

The working load of wooden pallets is a key factor in the design and specification process. For example, if the pallets are to be used to handle 1 tonne of goods and are usually stacked 3 pallets high, then the pallet must be designed to withstand a static weight of 3 tonnes. Using pallets that are not ‘fit-for-purpose’ and not capable of handling the weight of the products on the pallets present a serious risk to health and safety.

Single-Trip or Returnable Pallets

If the aim is to recover and reuse your pallets, you will require a robust pallet design allowing the pallet to withstand the rigours of multiple trips. If you intend to reuse your timber pallets, identifying ownership by branding, stencilling, or painting is important to assist recoverability by differentiating your pallets from others.

Timber Pallets Destined for Export Markets

If the wooden pallets are to be used for exporting products to countries outside the EU, it is likely they will be subject to ISPM15 phytosanitary regulations. This requires the pallets to be treated in accordance with ISPM15 guidelines to ensure that they are free from pest infestation or wood and forest diseases that can be transferred via unprocessed raw wood from one country to another, potentially having devastating effects on native timber species and their ecosystems.

Moisture Content of Timber Pallets

Timber pallets can be kiln-dried to lower the moisture content of the timber. Pallets that have a low moisture content, usually between 20-24%, are inherently stronger. This makes the timber pallet more durable and lighter in weight which helps save on transport costs and environmental impact.

Securing the Timber Pallet

If the products being shipped on the pallet require stretch wrapping or strapping to minimise movement during transit, these factors should be taken into consideration when specifying and designing the pallet. For example, if the products are to be stretch wrapped onto the pallet, Wings and cut-off corners should be built into the design to facilitate easier stretch wrapping.

Type of Material Handling Equipment Used to Move the Timber Pallets

The type of material handling equipment used to move the pallets through the supply chain should be taken into consideration at the specification stage. If a fork lift truck is to be used to lift the pallet, the base of the pallet should have battens of at least 50mm in height. If a pallet truck is to be used to manoeuvre the pallet, a batten height of around 100mm should be specified.

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