While many purchasing and shipping managers find themselves in favor of one type of pallet over the other, there are a lot of factors to consider before choosing a block pallet vs stringer pallet for your products. After all, pallets are a critical element responsible for safeguarding your products, making them easy to move, and keeping your production lines running. Pallets are the foundation of your unit load, whether you’re shrink wrapping them, strapping them, shipping them, or simply storing them.
In fact, wood pallets are such a vital part of the supply chain that choosing the correct pallet design can make or break (literally) your shipments and storage.
Fortunately, there are two basic choices: block pallet vs stringer pallet.
The block pallet gets its name from the blocks that form its base. There are typically 9 blocks in a block pallet, with a solid wood block placed in each of the four corners, in the center of each side of the pallet, and in the center of the pallet itself to support the unit load.
A block pallet is also known as a “four-way” pallet because the tines of a pallet jack or forklift can access and lift it from all four sides of the pallet. Block pallets can be designed with or without bottom deck boards.
Block pallets are commonly thought to be stronger and more durable than stringer pallets because they utilize both parallel stringers and perpendicular blocks, but as you’ll see from the head-to-head test below, that’s not necessarily true.
Stringer pallets are the most commonly used pallets in the United States and are so named because they use stringers to support the unit load. Stringers are the boards that are sandwiched between the top and bottom deck boards and are typically made out of 2 x 4’s or 3 x 4’s.
Stringer pallets are generally thought of as “two-way” pallets, meaning a forklift or pallet jack can only access them on two sides, but stringer pallets can be notched (for a forklift) or chamfered (for a pallet jack) on the non-accessible sides to allow for four-way entry. Although the most common size for a stringer pallet is 48” x 40”, they can be designed to virtually any size.
There are several considerations when choosing between a block pallet design and a stringer pallet design. Here are a few of the things you should think about.
Different products require different specifications for both shipment and storage. For example, pallets for the food & beverage industry have different requirements than pallets used to ship automotive parts. Some products require the pallets to be treated against mold or pests, while that’s not necessary for others.
In addition, some industries require specific pallet sizes and may require either block or stringer pallets for transport. If you’re not sure if a particular pallet size is required for your products, take a look at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for clarification.
Lastly, your product may require a particular wood material for your pallets. While most pallets are made from southern yellow pine, heavier products may necessitate the use of hardwoods, and certain industries prefer pallets made from other woods.
Where your product is being shipped is a major consideration when it comes to deciding between block pallet vs stringer pallet design. While stringer pallets are the most commonly used pallets in the United States, other countries more commonly use block pallets.
Additionally, different countries have different standard-sized pallets. While the standard pallet size is 48” x 40”, the same is not true of many other countries.
You may also want to consider any specific size requirements needed for your product’s destination. For example, will it need to fit through a standard doorway or will a forklift be available when your products get to their destination?
Whether you choose a block pallet vs a stringer pallet, it must be capable of supporting the weight of your product. In some cases, a custom pallet design is the only way to ensure that your product’s weight will be properly supported.
Often the strain a pallet must endure isn’t evaluated until there’s a failure, but it’s something you should definitely consider as you decide whether you want to use a block pallet vs a stringer pallet.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when you’re choosing the right pallet for your products. Be sure to think it through before you make a decision.
As we discussed earlier, it’s a commonly held belief that block pallets are stronger and more durable than stringer pallets.
And it’s important to take all the factors we’ve discussed into consideration before you decide on a block pallet vs stringer pallet design. The manufacturer you choose can also make a huge difference in the dependability of your pallets, as we’ve seen from the lab tests above.