Overloaded pallets breaking under stress is the last thing you want when shipping product. Not only does it endanger the employees, it adds a time-consuming clean-up process to the day, backing up your delivery schedule and putting unnecessary pressure on the transporter. Fortunately, this can be prevented easily by knowing your pallets’ weight capacity.
Does size determine the weight capacity of a pallet? The short answer is no, not really. The longer answer is kind of, but other things are more important in determining pallet weight capacity. In order to determine the pallet’s weight capacity, you need to look at the materials and design more than the size.
The most important factor in weight capacity is the materials. This includes new versus recycled plastic. New plastics have a higher weight capacity because the material hasn’t been melted before, so it has a stronger molecular structure. As a result, it is less brittle than recycled plastic and has a higher weight capacity. Pallets made from recycled plastic tend to have a lower weight capacity due to the molecular structure.
Another variation in plastic pallets is the typed of plastic used. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is more cost-effective and can hold a decently high weight. However, polypropylene (PP) can hold astonishingly heavy loads. It is the sturdiest option and is helpful if you are shipping exceptionally weighty materials.
The design of the pallet is a huge factor. Some pallets are built with heavy loads in mind and have a sturdier structure for the pallet itself. For instance, our RRM 7360C pallet is able to hold up to 14,100 pounds when not being moved. Its specific design makes it able to hold extremely heavy loads by using extensive surface area and reinforcing across the middle as well as the sides.
Other pallets are meant to be lightweight, so they are less reinforced. Our RRM 1000 is a great example of this. It was designed to optimize storage—it is one of our nestable pallets—and to cut down on shipping costs from pallet weight. This pallet holds a maximum of 3,500 pounds. None of its features are necessarily a bad thing, but they are something you need to know about the pallets before you order them, so you can ship everything you need.
Despite these two factors, the size of the pallet does play a part in how much weight it can hold. Not as much of a role as materials and design have, but size affects what can fit on the pallet. You can have two pallets, made from the same type of plastic and with the exact same design, but if they are different sizes, they have different weight capacities. The differences are proportional, but still present.
However, size is not always the best indicator of weight capacities. Two pallets of the same size can have very different weight capacities depending on the type of plastic and the design. To see this easily, look at two of our smaller pallets—the RRM 2100 and the RM H8330FC. Both pallets are 47.2 inches by 31.5 inches, but the RM H8330FC has a static capacity of 11,000 pounds while the RRM 2100 can only support 7,100 pounds—over 400 pounds difference. This is due to the difference in the pallet structure. The RM H8330FC is completely flat on top with three supports running the length of the pallet underneath. The RRM 2100, on the other hand, has a lattice pattern of plastic on the upside, and evenly spaced “legs” on the underside. Even though the two pallets have the same dimensions, they have a vastly different weight capacity because of their design.
Types of Weight Capacities
Pallets have three types of weight capacities. They all have different meanings and applications, and they are never the same, even on a single pallet.
- Static. Static load capacity is how much weight a pallet can hold when not moving. This is generally when the pallet is on the floor in a warehouse or displaying merchandise, or occasionally when in transit but not in motion. It is also the capacity for pallets stacked on top of pallets in storage. Static load capacity is almost always the highest of all three.
- Dynamic. Dynamic load capacity is how much weight a pallet can support when being moved by a forklift or similar device. This is typically lower than the static load capacity. It is an important number to keep in mind when packing pallets for transit.
- Racking. Racking load capacity refers to how much weight a pallet can hold when stored on racks. This is also typically relevant in warehouses. It tends to be the lowest because it is set assuming the racks offer mostly side support, with little to no support for the center of the pallet.
There are a few important things to bear in mind when looking at pallet weight capacities. First, these are made on the assumption that the weight will be evenly distributed across the pallet’s surface. While this may be the case for most of your shipments, it is not always true. Lopsided loads are possible, especially with oddly shaped products—make sure you take this into account. Second, you shouldn’t try to get to these capacities or load everything you can onto the pallets. It’s better for the pallet and safer for the workers if pallets are loaded slightly below their capacity. This prevents unnecessary strain to the pallet, making them last longer.
Plastic Pallet Pros
Because pallet breakage is so important to avoid, pallet weight capacities are a vital part of the shipping processes. By finding the right make and model of pallet for you and following the weight capacity guidelines, you can avoid this and keep your shipments safe and on time. If you have any questions about pallet weight capacities and how to find the right one for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.