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Pallets and palletising are commonly used terms in shipping. Considering rising eCommerce demand and transportation costs, palletised shipping has emerged as a preferred, cost-effective way for oversized and B2B bulk goods transportation. Palletising is a secure method of transportation and facilitates easy storage and material handling. Shipping pallets have been a game-changer in the market with many businesses opting for it for cargo and road transport. Let us understand the concept in detail.


What is palletised shipping?

Let us begin by understanding the meaning of pallets and palletising.

Pallets are flat structures on which goods are placed for support. In warehouses, items are placed in pallets and stacked one on top of another, to optimise space and make it easy to move goods. This process is known as palletising.

The pallets further strapped and wrapped for support and stability. Quite naturally, palletising provides goods safety, lessens shipping damages, and in turn reduces additional costs incurred during inefficient materials handling.

Pallet freight shipping: How it works?

You next question is likely to be how to ship a pallet? In most cases, pallet deliveries are opted for when deliveries have to be transported over long distances. Based on the goods being transported, it can be a single pallet or a double pallet. Most trucking companies in India provide both single and double pallet shipping, though doorstep delivery to residential areas can be challenging for huge parcels.

Tips to palletise freights:

  • Place heavy items on the bottom and light and fragile objects on top
  • Seal and pad all cartons/boxes tightly without empty spaces in between
  • Label and tag pallets with clear instructions

Pallet packaging and delivery process

  1. Identifying pallet delivery companies

As is obvious, the first step is to identify a pallet transport company to move your goods. You can choose a local/regional, national or international company based on your goods and their services. For instance, some companies also offer warehouse logistics solutions. This means that not only will they pack and transport your goods but can also store goods in their warehouses. This reduces risks of damages and also saves time.

  1. Schedule pickup

The next step is to schedule your pallet consignment pickup. In most cases, the pallet shipping company has pallet collection points to pick up the consignment. Once the pallets are picked up it is unloaded for quality check.

Further packaging is done based on the type of goods being shipped. In general, bubble wraps, cardboard, plastic, paper and stretch-wrap film are the preferred packaging material.

  1. Pack and label

Any additional packaging requirements are addressed at this point. For instance, additional padding and plastic straps can be used to hold the pallets together. The pallet consignment will also be tagged and labelled with the required instructions, shipping address, order and tracking number, and any other detail to facilitate real-time tracking and safety. Consider wrapping with suitable material as a final step.

  1. Weigh palletised consignments

Now before your consignment is shipped, it has to be weighed accurately. Most pallets can load up to 1000kgs based on its size and the type of goods being shipped.

In general, it is recommended to understand the concept of volumetric weight here to weigh the goods, i.e., the actual volume or space the product will occupy in the truck based on its length (L), width (W) and height (H). This is a unique pricing strategy used mostly in PTL and LTL shipping that enables businesses to pay for the goods as per their dimensions.

Most pallet shipping companies apply this concept to its pallet shipping calculator to calculate the weight of pallets.

  1. Prepare pallet delivery

The last and final stage is to prepare for pallet courier from the depot. A strong pallet distribution network then works on the consignment to identify the optimal route for delivery.

Delivery timelines vary based on different parameters. For instance, distance travelled, type of shipment, type of value-added services opted for (e.g., express delivery) etc. affect timelines. The 3PL company or logistics provider will run a final check to ensure all is in order, tracking mechanisms are in place, the pallets are securely packed, and shipments are out as per schedule.

Advantages and disadvantages of palletised shipping

Palletised shipping has its pros and cons. While on the one hand it can work out economical for transportation and 3PL companies, there’s also the need to have a highly functional pallet delivery network.


Let’s look at the pros and cons of using pallets in shipping:

Palletised shipping advantages

Palletised shipping disadvantages

Securely packaged to reduce damages in transit (weight is evenly distributed so that pallets placed below are not impacted) Cost of pallets (i.e., wooden or plastic structure) can add to overall costs (as against floor-loaded containers)
Accurate billing as pallets is weighed and priced according to volume occupied Additional expenses for equipment handling, warehousing and truck space (pallet structures take up space)
Less loading-unloading time is required as pallets can be moved using equipment, e.g., forklifts, pallet jacks Can get time consuming when working with big pallets as it has to conform to compliance and quality standard requirements (e.g., correct size of pallet)
Suitable for B2C (i.e., eCommerce) and B2B logistics (i.e., bulk consignments) Cost of pallet maintenance, i.e., pallets have to be repaired, cleaned and quality checked for further usage


How to decide if pallet shipping is right for you?

As can be understood, pallet freight has its pros and cons. While on the one hand it provides an additional layer of protection to your goods in transit, it can get expensive if done occasionally. Moreover, if you are shipping your goods through LTL shipping, the risks of damage are higher. Not surprisingly, many businesses opt for transit insurance (at additional costs) to ensure that their goods are safe during transit.

At Logistics from Tata nexarc, we provide free transit insurance. We have partnered with leading logistics services providers in India and ship across 19,000 pincodes. You can save up to 15% on logistics costs (T&C apply) and get quick doorstep deliveries on your shipments. Explore now.

Here are some tips on how and when pallet shipping is right for you:

  • If you are using LTL shipping frequently or your cargo is being loaded-unloaded multiple times due to change of transport, pallets are recommended as it will reduce risks of damage
  • If your cargo is oversized or you are ordering goods in bulk, pallet freight is recommended as it will provide safety and minimise expenses
  • If you want to optimise warehouse space or want to reduce rent on 3PL storage space, palletisation will ensure that your cargo is packed and stacked optimally

As a best practice, share your business insights with your 3PL providers and fulfilment centres. This will enable them to plan deliveries securely. For instance, if you are shipping furniture directly to your customer’s residential address, the 3PL must use appropriate trucks with lift gates to unload the pallets.


FAQs on palletised shipping



Is palletised shipping and LTL the same?

LTL or less-than-truckload is a form of shipping where businesses that do not have enough goods to fill an entire truck (FTL) or even a part truck (PTL) can ship their goods economically by sharing truck space with other businesses. It’s a cost-effective option of transportation, though it takes longer delivery time and there are higher risks of damage during loading-unloading. (Read more on PTL vs FLT vs LTL) In this sense, palletised shipments are the preferred form for LTL shipping based on the pallet designs and configurations.

What is the standard pallet size used in India?

Here are the commonly used pallet sizes in Asia:
  • 1100m x 1100mm (square)
  • 1200mm x 1000mm (rectangle)

What are the different types of pallets?

The different kinds of pallets used are:
  • Block pallets
  • Stringer pallets
  • Double-face pallets
  • Solid deck pallets

Which industries used palletised delivery systems?

Palletised deliveries are used across industries and by 3PL providers. The top industries using pallets are: FMCG, food and beverage, oil and paint, chemicals, eCommerce, retail.

What is a popular material for pallets?

When it comes to raw materials used for making shipping pallets, wooden pallets are the most popular and widely used option. Heat-treated wooden pallets are economical, sturdy, durable and any part can be easily replaced if there’s breakage/wear-and-tear. Plastic shipping pallets are also used. What’s important is to understand that pallets need to be sturdy, strong but also light-weight.

How does a pallet shipping calculator work?

A pallet shipping calculator calculates the pallet volume your goods will occupy based on the dimensions of your goods. You need to update package data, such as:
  • Package Length (L), Width (W) and Height (H)
  • Weight of the package
  • Number of units
For pallet data, the required details are:
  • Pallet type (size)
  • The Length (L) and Width (W)
  • Loading height and scale

Is it economical to use shipping pallets?

The cost of pallet freight shipping will depend on what you are sending. If you are shipping a handful of items then using a courier service or similar is recommended. However, if you are shipping goods in bulk and do so frequently, then shipping pallets are recommended. Though there’s initial cost and maintenance cost involved, it turns our more economical in the long run.

Sohini Banerjee

Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.