Moving and stacking pallets is a meticulous process that involves specific OSHA regulations, but this process can pose occasional difficulties for both workers and equipment – because not all pallets are the same. With a wide variety of pallet styles and nonstandard sizes available, newcomers to the supply chain industry may wonder: “What is the average pallet size? Is there a universal Standard?”
In 1908, the American Specialty Manufacturers Association, now called the Consumer Brand Association (CBA), was established in New York City on behalf of 45 food and branded product manufacturers. Today, the CBA continues to conduct research and develop standards for its member companies in the food manufacturing and logistics industries, and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) accepts the CBA’s 48” x 40” specifications as the North American standard pallet size.
Throughout its history, the CBA has built a pioneering reputation within the grocery industry, playing a key role in the adoption of new technologies that have included the rollout of the barcode for supermarket checkouts. As part of its efforts to streamline the grocery delivery process in North America, in the 1960s the CBA — which by then was known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, or GMA — standardized the shipping pallet to overcome logistical problems due to a previous lack of consistency and uniformity. The standard GMA pallet of the 1960’s was a simple 48-inch (1215 mm) by 40-inch (1015 mm) wooden platform that permitted four-way entry by a pallet jack or forklift. At first, the standards demanded that pallets be made of high-density wood. As technology and supply chain systems have modernized, there has been an increasing demand for pallets that are more durable, more sustainable, and safer for employees as well as groceries and other products. This led to the rise of polyethylene plastic pallets, which are stronger, lighter, and more durable than wooden pallets — with the benefit of being 100% recyclable. For more on plastic pallets, review our Definitive Guide.
In addition to the standard CBA pallet size, there are also pallet grades to consider. A Grade–A pallet is a new or lightly used pallet that has little to no visible or structural damage to its deck boards or to its stringers, which are the perpendicular boards sandwiched between the top and bottom deck boards. For the purposes of general use, these pallets function “as good as new.” A Grade–B pallet, which typically refers to wood pallets that have been frequently reused and repaired, is considered a lower quality product. These pallets tend to have more visible damage, such as cracks, and their stringers may have been braced with replacement boards, plates, or plugs to reinforce damaged areas. Grade–C pallets are the lowest quality, in poor condition with many repairs visible, and typically will not be accepted by most retailers.
Plastic pallets, such as those available from iGPS Logistics, tend to be far more durable than wood pallets, despite weighing about 35% less; they have a longer lifespan, do not splinter, and rarely break. They also move more safely and seamlessly through supply chain automation systems, because there are no broken boards or protruding nails to get snagged in equipment. When an iGPS pallet is damaged, rather than being repaired or patched up, it is simply recycled into a brand-new pallet. For this reason, virtually all pallets in the iGPS plastic pool are of continuous Grade–A quality.
It’s no wonder that many manufacturers and retailers are making the switch to plastic. Rugged, recyclable iGPS pallets are all a standard 48” x 40” size, and meet or exceed CBA grading guidelines. Our customers have found that plastic pallet pooling solutions from iGPS decrease their logistical headaches and lower their Total Cost of Business.
To adopt a versatile pallet that meets international standards while also providing a lower total cost of business, give our team a call at 1-866-556-8103, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.