How to Choose Pallets

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In a previous post, we looked at the Big Fight between plastic and wood pallet manufacturers. From our ringside seat, it was all fairly entertaining, but it did raise some questions:  most importantly, how do you choose pallets for your new or used forklifts? Wooden pallets still account for 90% of the market, but is that because we choose pallets out of habit or because they’re better for our operations?

Inbound Logistics recently took a serious look at pallets from a logistical standpoint and came to some interesting conclusions in an article about selecting pallets. These are some of the things author Deborah Catalano Ruriani pointed out that are worth considering:

Plastic vs Wood: Pros and Cons

Wooden pallets have these advantages over plastic:

• They cost a third as much.
• Wood pallets can be repaired.
• Wooden pallets can carry heavier loads than plastic pallets — up to 3000 pounds.
• Wood pallets are more environmentally friendly when recycled.

Plastic pallets have these advantages over wood pallets:

• Because they can be returned, plastic pallets are often used in closed-loop warehouses.
• Plastic pallets have no fasteners that may come loose and damage fragile loads.
• Plastic pallets can be used in a store display.

In most manufacturing settings, wooden pallets are preferable to plastic, but if your operations include the handling of more fragile items, plastic pallets may serve you better. Then again, does it have to be a choice between the two?

While plastic pallets cost up to 3 times as much as wooden pallets, having a few on hand for those occasions when your forklifts need to handle more delicate loads, might be prudent. If not, consider getting round or triangular fork extensions for protecting materials (that are not stacked on pallets) from damage by the hard edges of standard forks.

If you are in a closed-loop warehouse environment, the benefits of plastic pallets may outweigh their drawbacks. However, they aren’t really suitable for carrying loads over 1,500 pounds, so having some wood pallets on hand for those occasions when you need to lift heavier loads is always a good idea.  Particularly since wooden pallets are much less expensive in comparison to plastic pallets, this is another item to consider.

a used forkliftr at work in the warehouse

Choosing the right used forklift is trickier than choosing the type of pallet you need.

Choosing the right used or reconditioned forklift for your materials handling needs can be trickier than choosing between plastic or wooden pallets. Check out all the classes and codes for forklifts in our Forklift Guide, and learn about the benefits of each. There are 3 classes and 8 codes of electric forklifts alone! Which one is the best choice for you?

If you need any help choosing pallets or a used forklift for your facility, don’t hesitate to contact in person and speak to one of their experienced staff. With over 45 years in the material handling business behind them, they’ve heard all the questions and have all the right answers.

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