What's the grade and will it cut it?
Pallets and the different grades
When searching for the right pallet for your business, it may be intimidating since there’s such a vast variety of different grades and sizes. In this ebook I’d like to make it simple and easy to understand.
The Standard Size
The industry standard pallet is the 48Lx40W 4 way wooden pallet 4 way pallet is the most commonly used size in the industry. The 48x40 accounts for 30%-35% of all wooden pallets manufactured per year. The standard was confirmed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association in the early 80’s (Thus the abbreviation GMA 48x40 wooden pallet.) Although the name was coined by the Grocery Association it is used by most warehouse based businesses since its easily stackable, perfect size for most items, and has 4 way access to lifting it with a forklift.
To Heat Treat or to not Heat Treat?
Many people in the industry wonder whether they need to pay the extra expense to acquire heat treated wooden pallets or not. The short answer, it depends on where you’re shipping to. The wood used to make pallets are an organic substance (Obviously made from trees) rather than synthetic, so what comes with organic material is the possibility of carrying pests. Whether mature or in laravel, they can easily attach to the wood and not only compromise the safety of the package but also infest the destination of the receiving country. Controlling governments has created many methods to counteract the possibility of spreading diseases and contamination through product shipping and the most used form is the process of heat treating pallets.
Developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), it is a process that implements phyto-sanitation technology that removes all contaminants from the wood. The pallets are heated at 130 Degrees for a minimum of 30 minutes, killing off all larva and insects. Then it is stamped with the HT emblem for Identification purposes. By the US standard, all pallets being shipped internationally must be heat treated. Pallets that are being shipped domestically, do not. Not giving legal advice, but the choice is yours.
Different grades of Pallets and will they pass the test?
Many people wonder what the term ‘Graded’ pallets are referring to and what's its significance when purchasing pallets. Different people in the industry will have different definitions as to what they believe a A or B pallet is, nut here’s the skinny.
Grade A Pallet- (AKA Grade #1) are clean and structurally sound, as they have typically been repaired so that it is close to its original condition. For example, broken stringers may have been replaced or repaired with metal plates, and all damaged deck boards have been replaced.
Grade B Pallet- (AKA #2 pallets) have been previously used and typically have experienced damage to one of its stringers. To fix, or reinforce, the damaged wood, an additional runner is placed alongside the broken or cracked piece.
Which one to choose? Well it all depends what you’re shipping and who you’re shipping to. As are the crem de la crem, they will last much longer than B’s and are visually more appealing. B’s are repaired A’s but can still get the job done and save you money in the long run. It all depends on your personal preference and situation.
Other Recommended Alternatives
There are many alternatives that are comparable to the 48x40 sized pallet that although they may be rare to come by, can save you a buck or two in the long run. For example:
48x48- Square pallets that you can balance 4 barrels on evenly.
42x42- Another square that is great for smaller parts. It’s much more common in the car part industry due to its versatility.
40x40- Designed to fit stacked crates of milk.
48x45- This pallet meets AIAG specs, used mainly in automotive
48x36- Used in a variety of industries. Roofing, paper, and Shingles.
Keep in mind it's harder to find the custom sizes, primarily the odd sizes since they’re not in demand compared to the standard or the square pallets.