Pallet Manufacturers Understanding Their Language

Euro pallets

A pallet supplier is only as good as the pallet manufacturer that they are getting the pallets from. A surprising number of people are not aware that pallets are manufactured according to a grading system.

The company that actually is responsible for the pallet produce grade is the manufacturer. The pallet supplier depends on the information that they are given by their supplier (pallet manufacturer) to provide to the consumer (who in this case is you).

Understanding the language that is used when describing pallets start with understanding how the grading system works.

Pallets are graded according to several different aspects of the pallet like:

  • Number of boards on top
  • Appearance
  • Quality of the wood

There are different groups that provide the standards under which a pallet is graded. For example, the Grocery Manufacturers Association-GMA has a grading system in place that is usually the accepted standard in most countries.

Euro palletThe number of boards on top are one of the features that determines what grade a pallet can be considered. The appearance of the pallet is also important.

For example, a pallet that has been used and has some chips or splits can never be considered Premium Grade A or Premium Grade 1.

The quality of the wood is also a consideration when pallets are being graded. The best pallet manufacturers will offer a full range of different graded pallets to best meet the need of all users.

There are quite a few different pallet manufacturers to choose from but you want to be sure that you are doing business with a company that you can trust that will provide you with honest answers and offerings.

In other words, you do not want to pay for premium pallets only to have them delivered and find them to be Grade B or lower quality pallets. Every different grade has its place in the supply chain.

For example, Grade B pallets are less expensive than Premium Grade A or even Grade A pallets for a reason. They can be a bit unsightly and more appropriate for warehouse use than for end user display.

Ugly does not mean functional and in some cases the Grade B pallets can have splits and knots in them or may have been used a few times or even have visible repairs but they work.

Premium Grade A pallets are the most expensive grade because to meet this high standard they have to be virtually flawless.

The Grade A is one level below the premium Grade A and can have some flaws but not many or not as many as the Grade of B can get away with.

Unfortunately, if you are not aware of the grading system and you are dealing with an unsavory pallet producer you may find yourself on the losing end of the deal.

Of course using a trusted supplier will ensure that you are always getting what you paid for but choosing the best pallet manufacturer will be a lot easier if you know what you should be expecting.

Get familiar with the grading system so you can speak to a pallet supplier and be on the same page. We put together some information for you so that you will know what you are shopping for.

Premium Grade A or Premium Grade 1

Premium Grade A pallets are top of the line pallets. In most cases these are the pallets that end users look for to use as display vehicles. The standards listed here are the most accepted standards but may vary slightly from country to country.

Here is what you should typically expect from Premium Grade A pallets:

  • There are 7 boards on the top of the pallet
  • There are 5 boards underneath the pallet
  • Uniform sized lead boards around the entire pallet
  • Uniform top decking, spaced evenly apart
  • No less than three stringers
  • There is always four-way entry
  • There are no gaps the pallet is flush
  • No metal or block repairs are present
  • None of the stringers are off color or painted

Grade A or Grade 1

This grade is only a step down from the premium and offers many of the same great features but it is less expensive. There are a few key differences. Here are the typical standards:

  • There are 7 boards on the top of the pallet
  • There are 5 boards underneath the pallet
  • Uniform sized lead boards around the entire pallet
  • Uniform top decking, spaced evenly apart
  • No less than three stringers
  • There is always four-way entry
  • There are no gaps the pallet is flush
  • Metal plates for repairs are permitted to strengthen damaged of split stringers. There can be one metal repair plate per stringer but no block repairs are permitted.

Grade A pallet are typically used in food grade warehouses or in the pharmaceutical industry. They are sometimes used for display by end users for other goods and materials. They are pallets that are in very good condition that are durable and long lasting.

Grade B

The Grade B pallets are used in one-way shipping or for storage in the warehouse. They have a lower standard than the other two grades but can still get the job done when looks are not quite as important.

  • There may be 6 or 7 boards on the top depending on how wide each board is.
  • There should be no less than four boards on the bottom
  • The top decking space can vary
  • There are three stringers
  • They offer four-way entry
  • It can have plug repairs on the stringers that are visible
  • Plugs can be located anywhere on the pallet and can be of any length
  • Partial splits and chips in the boards are acceptable
  • Used condition is also common

The Grade B is actually the most common type of pallet. It is the least expensive of the three grades and is thought as an economic means of shipping and storing goods.

Grade C

There is one final category of pallet grades that we have yet to address. This is the Grade C or Grade 3 pallet. In this case the things that make it a Grade 3 may or may not compromise the durability of the pallet:

  • There are likely multiple obvious repairs
  • Inconsistent spacing of stringers
  • No set number of boards on top or bottom
  • May appear pieced together
  • Used condition a definite
  • Painted, mismatched colored stringers

Basically the Grade C or 3 is a combination of other pallet parts used to create a new pallet. Think of it as the Frankenstein of pallets.

It is piece meal together from broken or unserviceable pallets. Oddly enough this is also one of the most popular pallets for some situations because they are thought of as disposable pallets.

They are very inexpensive and in most cases are used in warehouses or for one-way shipping to other members of the supply chain and even to distributors. For the most part they are functional one time use pallets and they are cheap.

Overall

The best pallet producer and supplier will be able to make recommendations about the best pallets to meet your needs. At least now you will have a good understanding about what to expect from the different grades.

Let’s clear up one more source of confusion. Grade B pallets may not be showroom ready but it does not mean that they are not reliable pallets.

It means that they may have been in circulation for a while and that you may get a great deal on them but that your end users may not be happy with them as a display option.

In most cases the quality and the durability of the pallet goes without question regardless of the grade it just comes down to what you prefer for your business and how you plan on using the pallets.

The reason that the Grade B is so popular is because it is often used as a one-way shipping vehicle because they are a relatively inexpensive option.

Grade A are favored by businesses that have a more closed loop supply chain where they will be getting the pallets back and reusing them or if they want to provide the retailer with a display option for the products or goods.

Being able to speak the same language as the pallet manufacturer will help you to make a better choice for your pallet needs.

There is nothing worse than being tasked to order something that you have no idea about and then having to rely on the person you plan on buying from to do the explaining.

At least if you start out with some basic knowledge you won’t feel as lost and be able to communicate effectively with the pallet supplier so that you will be satisfied with your purchase and you will not have to go into the deal blindly.

Everyone will be on the same page which will make your job easier and the pallet supply company representatives job easier.