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Understanding Plastic Pallet Weight Capacity

25 Jan 2018

It’s essential for businesses that use plastic pallets to comply with the weight limits stated on the pallet. The pallet has been tested and certified to operate safely at that weight or less. If you decide to ignore this advice, and there is later an accident, you may find yourself facing legal action from an injured employee or another party in the supply chain.

In addition, pallets that are overloaded don’t last as long as they should. So it’s very important to understand plastic pallet weight capacity and the factors that influence it.

Plastic Pallets

1. The Plastic Used Is Important

“Virgin” plastic pallets are those that have been made from new rather than recycled plastic. They tend to be stronger because the process of heating old plastic to reshape it for a new product weakens the molecular structure. Two types of plastic are used in pallets: High-Density polyethylene (HDPE) and Polypropylene (PP). Virgin HDPE is the material of choice for pallets because it’s not as expensive as PP but is very robust.

2. Environmental Factors

Plastic is excellent at withstanding harsh weather conditions and chemicals. So for challenging environments or outdoor use, plastic will perform robustly for a longer period. However, it may not be able to carry quite as much in, say, very hot conditions as in a temperate working environment.

3. What’s Being Carried Is a Key Factor

Manufacturers generally advise on carrying loads for pallets in the context of what is being carried – not all loads behave in the same way, and some loads require special pallets. For example, drums of chemicals or liquids may require pallets that are designed to safely contain spills. It’s always wise to leave a tolerance margin – aim to carry a slightly lower weight of load than the one specified for the pallet.

4. Dynamic, Static and Racking Load Can Vary

At any one time, each pallet may be carrying a dynamic load, a static load or a racking load – and the weight limits for these can be different. The dynamic load is the weight the pallet can sustain when it’s being lifted by a forklift, for example.

The static load is the maximum weight a pallet can bear when it’s in a fixed place and not being moved. So if pallets are stacked in a column, the one at the bottom must be able to bear the weight of the pallets stacked on top of it. The static load capability is higher than the dynamic load capability.

The racking load limit is the amount of weight that the pallet can bear on a racking system without any structure beneath it to support it.

5. Load Distribution Also a Factor

The pallet may be unevenly loaded or the load may move during transit. This will reduce the maximum weight-bearing capacity, which is why it’s always a good idea to operate slightly below the weight limit for the pallet you are using.

Plastic pallets weight capacities are stated for a reason – so respect them and you should have long-lasting pallets that perform well and contribute to a safe working environment.

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