When I first started buying pallets, it seemed straightforward – at least initially. We had two new pallet specifications, and that is what I ordered. But over time, things became more complicated. I began to know what I didn’t know. And that’s when I had to go back and learn the basics to do a better job as a pallet buyer.
I found out that what you order isn’t always what you get and that a great price combined with poor delivery doesn’t earn you any Kudos when every order picker at the distribution center comes to a stop for lack of pallets. I gradually understood there are other alternative approaches such as using pallet design software to redesign pallets, used pallets, rental, pallet treatments, and more. For example, I learned the hard way that is palletizing a rail car full of tinned goods on wet pallets during the heat of the summer wasn’t a terrific idea except for generating a lot of pallet molds, rusty cans, empty shelves, and heated conversations.
My understanding of buying pallets would have benefited from a better understanding of the basics, as in FALM’s The Ultimate Guide to Buying Pallets. The Ultimate Guide touches on the practical information you need to start your journey as a pallet purchaser. I’ll summarize some of that information below in the form of three questions.
Should I buy hardwood pallets or softwood?
For years, hardwood pallets were more dominant in the East and softwood in the West, but the situation is changing for several reasons. For instance, the historic price increases for softwood lumber and nails over the last year have underscored the urgency for being flexible regarding your pallet specification.
Most suppliers will offer a variety of wood species for pallet construction. These species are divided into hardwood and softwood varieties. Typically, hardwood is denser, so it tends to create more robust pallets. But softwood pallets can mimic hardwood strength by increasing the thickness of the boards. They have sophisticated pallet suppliers such as FALM that use pallet design software that considers both the density of the lumber and your company’s load size. They determine which type of wood/density of wood is needed to carry your intended load safely.
Should I be buying pallets that are used or new?
When determining which pallets are best for you, you’ll first need to choose between new or used pallets. New pallets are constructed from scratch with fresh lumber. Used pallets, on the other hand, can be built in a few different ways:
- Recycled/Repaired Pallets – pallets that previously had damaged boards that have been replaced by new or used boards.
- Remanufactured Pallets – pallets built by reusing board components (used lumber) to build a new pallet configuration.
- Combo Pallets – pallets that are a combination of used and recycled pallets, with some deck boards made of new lumber.
Buying used pallets is a a great option, as they are environmentally friendly and help reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Additionally, the production of used pallets is not affected by supply or lumber shortages, so your company will always be able to find a supplier for your order. Price is another factor to consider when choosing between new and used pallets. Used pallets will always be cheaper than new pallets of a similar design; however, the prices of each type of used pallet will vary depending on several factors.
New pallets, however, are more uniform in size and offer a bright, fresh appearance that some pallet buyers prize. New pallets are also required for some custom sizes – especially larger pallet footprints, where there is not a ready supply of used pallets or recycled pallet components to draw upon.
How does pallet pricing work?
There are a lot of variables when it comes to buying pallets, which makes it challenging to provide a standard pricing list. A majority of a new pallet’s cost lies in the value of the lumber and nails that go into it. And as mentioned above, recent wild material cost fluctuations have resulted in corresponding price increases. Compound that with labor and transportation challenges, and the result has been the most chaotic year in memory for the pallet market. Never has the need for a reliable pallet supplier ever been greater.
In its Ultimate Guide, FALM offers a list of questions that a pallet manufacturer will ask to determine a quote:
- What material should be used to build the pallet?
- Do you prefer new or used pallets?
- Do you need a custom or standard pallet size?
- What are the pallet dimensions?
- Do you need treated/untreated pallets?
- How large is the order size?
- How frequently do you order
- How far away must pallets be delivered?
- What type of delivery vehicle is required? Can it be a flat deck or must it be a van?
All of the above factors play a role in pricing your pallets. For a quote on your plant or national pallet needs, contact FALM at (866) 803-0424 or email@example.com.
When it comes to buying pallets, be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Buying Pallets to find out other ‘need-to-know’ basics such as pallet sizes, grades, material options, treatments, and more.