More and more Lucky Break clients are packing pallets these days (hooray!). Whether they’re bound for Anthropologie, Home Goods, TJ Maxx or subscription box companies, many of us are tackling big corporate purchase orders and the mondo-sized shipments that go with them. I thought a tutorial on how to properly pack a pallet might prove helpful. If you’re ready to start working with products at a larger scale, then I hope this post takes some of the mystery out of the process!
How to Pack a Pallet of Product
Step 1: You’ll use case packs and larger shipping boxes, much like you likely already do. For instance: if you’re shipping candles, we wouldn’t want to pack large boxes of 48 candles each. That would be hard to stabilize and leave the product vulnerable to damage. A better option would be to pack those candles into case packs of 6 or 8 candles each.
Once those smaller “case pack” boxes are packed and taped shut, you’ll then load those case packs into a larger exterior shipping box. So we might have one large shipping box that contains 8 case packs containing 6 candles each, for a total of 48 candles. A series of those boxes are prepared and individually weighed, carefully noting the weight of each.
Step 2: You’ll load those larger boxes onto a wooden pallet. You can often pick these up free locally- check home stores, flooring stores, etc. Note that your boxes shouldn’t overhang the edge of the pallet… everything should fit inside the pallet’s “footprint.”
Step 3: Start with your heaviest boxes and layer them on the bottom. Unless your boxes are square, I recommend packing the layers “criss-cross” style. So layer one boxes all go in one direction, layer two boxes are rotated 90 degrees, layer three boxes are packed the same way as layer one, and layer four boxes are packed the same way as layer two, etc. Don’t pack much higher than you are tall!
Step 4: Once all the boxes are loaded, then wrap the pallet with plastic wrap. Wrap multiple layers all over the pallet, starting at the bottom and working your way up by physically walking around the stack. Be certain to wrap the actual pallet as well- if you simply wrap the cargo on top of the pallet, then it can slide off. Be careful to wrap the top half of the wooden pallet itself once it’s loaded with cargo to effectively attach the boxes to the pallet.
Step 5: Affix a shipping label with the destination clearly displayed. I recommended typing this in Microsoft Word (large type!) or a similar program, printing the label on regular paper, then affixing the label to the wrapped pallet via clear shipping tape.
Step 6: Affix a detailed packing list in a clear shipping pouch to the exterior of the pallet, next to the shipping label. The packing list should list your contact details as the shipper, the contact details of the receiver, and then carefully note the number of boxes per pallet, along with the contents of each large shipping box. Be certain to reference any purchase order numbers attached to this shipment.
Three important things to note:
- When you arrange the pickup, you’ll need to give the trucking company the weight and dimensions of the pallet. The dimensions are easy enough to determine with a tape measure. But to get the weight, you’ll either need a jumbo-sized floor scale you can roll the pallet over (read here: $$$), or you can weigh each box as it’s added to the pallet. Simply tally them all up and add 20# for the pallet.
- If you plan to move the pallet around your space, then you’ll need a pallet truck. If pallets are something you’ll be wrestling with often, then a pallet truck is a wise investment. You can sneak a peek of one in action in the video below.
- If your facility doesn’t have a dock, then you’ll need to let the trucking company know when you arrange the pickup. They’ll send a liftgate truck which has a hydraulic lift on the back. That lift can lower to the ground and that truck will have a pallet truck inside. The driver will use the pallet truck to guide the pallet onto the liftgate and lift it back into the truck. Liftgates are usually an additional fee of $50-150, but there’s no way around it and no regular truck can pick up a pallet off the ground, so be sure to indicate this need when you first speak to the shipper!
What questions do you have? Drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to help! If you’ve packed a pallet, was it easier or harder than you imagined?