Rackable plastic pallets, stackable and nestable options to meet application needs
What plastic pallet options do you require for your palletization application? Purchasers of plastic pallets will have a wide variety of nestable, rackable and stackable pallets to choose from, depending upon the style that best fits their needs. Let’s take a closer look.
Nestable plastic pallet options
Nestable pallets or skids are so named because when empty, they nest together when stacked, with the vertical members (known by a variety of names such as legs, posts, pedestals, etc.) sliding into apertures or openings in the top deck of the pallet below, thus minimizing the storage and shipping space required. This translates into more efficient use of space in crowded retail back rooms and greater transportation efficiencies when shipping the empty pallets back to the distribution center or another supplier.
Nestable pallets are typically durable, lightweight models that are used in many applications where the emphasis is on the transportation of palletized goods rather than storage – they have typically not been designed for racking or stacking. Sometimes referred to as distribution or downstream pallets, they are used widely by grocery retailers for the picking and shipping of orders to retail outlets, as well as by the U.S. Postal Service.
More recently, nestable pallets have been designed to increase their functionality, for example, by making them rackable and broadening the bottom coverage to promote conveyability.
Stackable and rackable plastic pallets
Rackable/Stackable pallets are designed with a bottom face or deck that allows unit loads to be safely stacked on top of each other in the case of stackable pallets or safely edge racked in racking storage systems in the case of rackable pallets. Common bottom deck configurations for rackable/stackable pallets include picture frame, picture frame with crossbar, or three-runner configurations. Rackable pallets must be very strong to perform this function.
Plastic pallets are furthermore often classified as heavy-duty, medium-duty, or light-duty pallets, with the implication that heavy-duty pallets are made with more material and designed to be stronger and more durable, for example, rackable pallets. In comparison, light-duty pallets are made with less material and are designed for limited use before recycling. Some shippers prefer light-duty or medium-duty pallets for export because of their lower price point and their exempt status for ISPM-15 requirements.
Benefits of color-coding plastic pallets
There are benefits as well as a few disadvantages of color-coding pallets. The benefits are listed below:
- Pallets can be spotted at a considerable distance by asset managers when they are a specific color.
- Likewise, color coding helps facilitate warehouse pallet audits, even in high rack location.
- Color marking of pallets enables material handlers to sort different types of pallets easily and helps ensure that employees use the correct pallet for the correct shipment.
- Pallet color coding can be indispensable in helping plant employees segregate one type of material from another, where certain materials or processes are associated with a specific color.
- Color coding can be used to also reduce the risk of cross-contamination where some pallets or totes may be used for unhygienic applications.
- And of course, pallet color selection can help in retail marketing and store esthetics initiatives. Think blue pallets for Pepsi, or red pallets for Coca-Cola, for example.
Plastic pallet management
When an investment in reusable plastic pallets is made, having an effective asset management program is an important consideration. A durable, reusable pallet can only deliver on a very low cost per trip when it is used several times. If pallet loss or plastic theft is significant, the cost-per-trip can be considerably higher and negatively impact their value proposition of purchasing a durable plastic pallet. For some thoughts on pallet loss and theft, read Reusable Packaging: Is It Really So HARD TO HOLD? or thoughts on the importance of front-line decision-making in pallet loss prevention.
- Material composition
- Typical application
- User references
- Design – one or multiple-piece
- Pallet weight
- Pallet height
- Top deck: solid or vented?
- Top deck surface options: lip, grommets, scuffing, spin disks, cleats
- Washable in an automated system?
- Designed for water drainage
- Designed for spill containment
- Bottom deck style and coverage: nestable nine-leg, picture frame, cruciform, three or four runners, etc.
- Static, dynamic load rating
- Edge-rackable load rating
- If edge-rackable, one direction or two?
- Opening sizes
- Fire rating
- USDA or FDA approval
- Asset management considerations to prevent loss or theft
- Buy-back program for damaged pallets
- IoT compatibility
- Plant location, freight charges
- Pallet color, branding options
Interested in finding a plastic pallet supplier? Be sure to check out our plastic pallet vendor listing.
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