China Looks To Standardize Pallet Sizes

As countries industrialize, the issue of pallet standardization eventually becomes a barrier to logistics efficiency. In the earlier stages, decisions about pallet selection often are made by specific shippers who gravitate around what size works best for their particular product. Foreign companies may also arrive with preconceived ideas about the appropriate pallet size to use. The harmonization of pallet sizes, however, can help improve transportation and storage performance, while eliminating the need to repalletize goods onto different sized pallets while in the logistics pipeline. Standardization also promotes the growth of pallet pools and pallet reuse.

To reflect on one example, it was less than 20 years ago that the North American produce industry standardized its pallet size. The industry was characterized by a few dozen different sizes, presumably derived from local decisions about what size worked best with particular products. Increased pressure from the big retailers persuaded them to migrate to the North American standard 48×40” size. That migration was not painless. Pack size changes had to be agreed upon by customers and effected, while pallet storage equipment had to be modified. Today, however, North American produce has largely standardized on the 48×40” footprint.

In China, rapid industrialization in that country has brought the question of pallet standardization onto the front burner. Some degree of standardization, of course, is critical to the development of reusable pallet pools. A recent report from China laments the inefficiencies suffered because of their plethora of pallet sizes, and surprisingly, recommends standard sizes that are neither of the common 800×1200 or 1200×100 sizes.

To read another interesting discussion on pallet standards, HOW DO DIFFERING STANDARDS INCREASE TRADE COSTS? THE CASE OF PALLETS by Gaël Raballand and Enrique Aldaz-Carroll , click here.

Back at the beginning of the decade, Australia assessed the feasibility of migrating from its unique Australian footprint to a more universal standard. See that study here.