How to Prepare Shipping Pallets for Freight Shipment

How to Prepare Shipping Pallets for Freight Shipment

Pallets are portable rigid platforms used to consolidate shipments and allow for ease of freight movement. Quality pallets are commonly made of either wood or plastic and can weigh between 20 and 70 lbs. Pallets should be large enough to accommodate the shipment without overhang. Anything overhanging the pallet edges will be subjected to impacts that can result in punctures, abrasions, and compression damage.

UPS palletizes most freight shipments for ease of movement. For air freight shipments, if your non-palletized shipment does not meet the minimum billable weight per piece, consider palletizing prior to UPS pickup.

The following are basic step-by-step instructions for palletizing your freight for UPS Worldwide Express Freight, Air Freight and LTL shipments.

1. Select Pallets

  • Choose pallets large enough to prevent overhang of shipment pieces
  • Pallets must be sturdy enough to support the load
  • select pallets with closely spaced pallet deck boards
  • never exceed the rated capacity of your pallet
  • Do not select pallets with broken boards or protruding nail heads
  • Pallets with four-way forklift entry are preferred as they help to improve handling and reduce damage to the shipment
  • 2. Stack Boxes on Pallet

    For shipments that contain boxes or stackable pieces

    • Ensure cartons are new and of proper strength to withstand stacking
    • Securely close, staple and/or seal cartons
    • Protect product from internal vibration with proper amounts of dunnage within cartons; leave no void areas/spaces between product or on top of carton
    • Affix labels, with complete address information for the shipper and the consignee, to each piece
    • Align boxes in columns, corner to corner, for the greatest stacking strength
    • Avoid interlocking or rotating layer patterns
    • Do not align corners over the spaces between pallet deck boards
    • Boxes should not extend past the pallet edges
    • Do not pyramid the boxes; keep the top layer flat to prevent damage from top loads
    • Use a slip sheet under the load and every third layer when possible to help distribute the weight evenly and protect the bottom layer

    3. Secure Shipment to Pallet

    Use strapping or banding to secure your shipment to the pallet, and stretch wrap (use a minimum of 60 gauge, five revolutions recommended) to prevent pieces from getting lost or separated from the load.

    4. Label Shipment

    Label each pallet with telephone numbers and complete address information including postal code of the shipper and the consignee. For UPS Worldwide Express Freight, label each pallet with a label on each side of the pallet and on top of the pallet with telephone numbers and complete address information, including the postal code of the shipper and the consignee.

    Palletizing your shipment

    Note: Pre-authorization is required for air freight shipments that exceed any of the following (length, width, and height limits below do not apply to UPS Worldwide Express Freight):

    • 120″ length
    • 84″ width
    • 76″ height
    • or 5,000 lbs. weight (4,400 lbs. for UPS Worldwide Express Freight shipments)


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