Although general standards exist, pallet designs vary but most can be found with some or all of the following characteristics:
The Bearers provide the space between the top and bottom decks for entry of the forks.
The Deck is the top or bottom flat surface and can be either close or open boarded.
The Stringer is a horizontal member containing the bearers and supporting the deck.
Fork Entry is the space created to facilitate the entry of forks to pick up and move the pallet.
Wings are extensions of the deck to provide larger products to be stored on pallets. They are called wings because they protrude beyond the bearers.
A Chamfer is applied to the edges of the bottom deck to assist the passage of the wheels of a hand pallet truck.
Despite the various pallet types on the market, there are generally two styles that are commonly found:
- A single-decked, 2-way entry pallet, and
- A 4-way entry pallet with a cruciform perimeter base
Single-Decked 2-Way Entry
This type of shipping pallet has only a top deck and is suitable for items that can withstand the concentrated loads imposed by the bearers during stacking such as wooden boxes and drums.
They are also used where little stacking is required and for storing unit loads in pallet racking when the bearers are supported by the rack framework.
4-Way Entry With Cruciform Perimeter Base
The cruciform design of the bottom slats adds to the strength of the pallet and improves load distribution when stacked.
This is the most widely used type of four-way entry pallet.
Other pallet designs are available to improve load distribution or work better with specialised handling equipment such as stacker cranes and pallet trucks, but this and the single-decked 2-way pallet are most commonly utilised.