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While pallets used in shipping and warehousing have become standardized in terms of size and structure, the products and packages stacked on top of them are ever-changing.  

In an ideal unit load, the products stacked on the pallet come to the very edges of the pallet and form a stable, symmetrical unit protected and bound with stretch wrap. 

In real life, however, we may be dealing with a variety of products stacked together. This variety may not present a uniform stack pattern and may result in inboard conditions where the products don’t come to the edge, or overhang on the pallet.  Or we have a product that once formed a stable unit load but now has a newly designed package and the cases don’t fit on the pallet the same way.

This kind of change and variety affects the stack pattern of the load –  how the products are arranged together – and the load may go from something that was stable and protected during transit to something that is inherently less stable and is at risk of damage during transit.

In the testing we’ve done at the Packaging Solution Center, we’ve found that the stack pattern is a critical factor in unit load stability.

Because the surface area of the standard pallet is a known factor, the size, shape, and arrangement of the cases can – and should – be considered during the package design process.  In the design phase, you can decide how many cases you can put per layer or determine if you’re looking at overhang or inboard conditions.  The decisions made at this stage will affect the success in getting your products shipped out to your customers at your target cost and without damage (see: The Load Damage Domino Effect).

To get this conversation started now, schedule a visit to the Packaging Solution Center.