Fitting and Packing Pallets in Standard Containers
How many pallets fit in a 20 or 40 feet container?
You want to avoid shipping air, so your pallets should ideally pack tightly into your shipping container for your ocean freight shipment. Depending on pallet type and size, the number of pallets you will be able to load into a container of 20 or 40 feet length varies. Their internal dimensions are 2,350 by 5,900 millimeters for 20 feet, and 12,022 by 2352 millimeters for 40 feet. International container shipments focus on the use of two pallet types, the EU pallet and the EUR2 pallet, also called Standard pallet. The following image provides an overview and only considers floor space, not packing in tiers.
The International Organization for Standardization details six ISO pallets in their Standard 6780, sorted by waste of floor space in standard containers in ascending order. To minimize the waste of floor space, so-called Pallet Wide containers exist. These non-standard containers have slightly more internal space. They are more common in Europe and can accommodate 24 or 30 Euro pallets.
Packing your pallets for optimal container shipping
Cardboard boxes or products should not stick out beyond the edge of a pallet. Otherwise, you will create an impediment to pallet arrangement. Improperly-stacked goods on a pallet could result in damages when pallets are handled or loaded closely together. It is essential that your shipment is properly fixed on the pallet with cling wrap or plastic straps, to avoid shifting and damage.
While container loading usually tries to minimize the waste of floor space (thus reducing the amount of air being shipped), you might have to take total weight into account in some cases. A shipment of light goods could possibly be arranged in two tiers within the container. On the contrary, if your loaded pallets are heavy, you might have to reduce the number per container so as not to exceed a certain weight. This could be the case if a container is routed in transit by truck and needs to meet a road weight limit.
Pick your pallet accordingly
The most suitable pallet for your container shipment depends on your supplier and the markets involved. The following factors determine how many pallets you can fit into a standard container.
- Pallet loading height: How high is your product stacked on the pallets? This depends on product size and weight and influences possible loading in tiers in your container. Clarify the loading height of your pallets with your product supplier or manufacturer.
- Load weight: Especially to be considered for heavy pallets since their weight can decrease the maximum number of pallets per container. Keep load limits or road weight in mind.
- Container space: The pallet arrangement within a 20- or 40-foot container should maximize the use of space in three dimensions. At the same time, the distribution should ensure efficient loading and unloading while minimizing potential damages. Your shipping and loading agent will assist you with the best pallet arrangement for your container.
- Unloading requirements: Factor in the needs of your customer or final recipient of your shipment, especially if they are in charge of unloading your shipping container. They might have limitations on loading height, tiered loading or preferential pallet arrangement within the container. Passage through buildings and doorways as well as onward routing may also be an issue.
When you are clear about the specifications and limitations of all parties involved in your shipment process, you can balance out the above factors to fit an optimum number of pallets in a standard 20- or 40-foot container. Get your container shipping quote now, or ship your container door-to-door with iContainers!
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