The question I get most often from customers wanting to buy plastic pallets is, "how many fit on a truck?"
Seems like a straightforward question, right? Well, if we're talking about standard 48x40 plastic pallets, I can tell you that we've got 26 to 30 skid spots to work with on a typical 53' dry van tractor trailer. Next comes some basic math (and maybe a tape measure). Most times we can come up with a solid count. Every once in a while we run up against an exception - usually because of a change in the truck scheduled to pick up the load.
I've put some diagrams below to help illustrate how we figure out how many spots we have available on a 53' truck for our most popular plastic pallet sizes. Before we jump in, I need to point out some basic assumptions:
Skid Spots on a 53' Truck per Pallet Size
48x40 Standard Plastic Pallets
To minimize shipping costs (especially when buying a truckload of new plastic pallets) we load 48x40 plastic pallets in a turned pattern. We can load 30 stacks of 48x40 pallets into a 53' trailer (26 stacks if the pallets need to be loaded straight).
48x32 Euro Plastic Pallets
The turned configuration allows us to load 38 stacks of 48x32 pallets stacks into a 53' truck but the slimmer width of a Euro pallet sometimes allows us to gain one extra skid spot by loading straight.
48x45 Automotive Plastic Pallets
Once again, a turned loading pattern may allow us to fit more stacks on the truck - but often not. We sometimes can load 28 stacks of 48x45 pallets into a 53' trailer (26 stacks if the pallets are loaded straight). Tip: measure first. Depending on the truck or pallet, you may find the turned loading pattern only fits 26 stacks. The 48x45 size is popular in the automotive industry (meets AIAG specs) but also works well in any industry using Gaylord® boxes.
Square Plastic Pallets
Since all sides are equal on square pallets, there's only one way to load. Assuming a standard 53' trailer, we can load 28 stacks of 43x43 plastic pallets. 45x45 plastic pallets can sometimes fit 28 stacks, but variations in pallet and truck designs often reduce that count to 26. Square pallets are popular in the feed, chemical and additive industries for stacking Super Sack® bulk bags. Similarly, we can load 26 stacks of 48x48 drum pallets.
Other Options for Transporting Pallets
In today's post I focused on loading popular pallet sizes into a standard 53-foot dry van trailer, but there are many more types of trucks making pallet deliveries. A reefer truck (a refrigerated trailer) can also be 53' but often loses loading space due to insulation on the interior. LTL trailers are used to transport less-than-truckload quantities. LTL trucks are not just shorter in length (28' on average) but most are less tall too. Other truck sizes on the road include lengths of 24', 40', 45' and 48' with enclosed trailers and without (flatbeds). Finally, shipping containers (used for ocean transport) have lengths of 20' and 40'.
What type of truck do you use for transporting pallets? Would you like to see a blog post detailing how many pallets fit on a truck that is not a 53' dry van? Let us know in the comments below.
Post by: Aaron Pascarella, Logistics Manager
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