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What is a Steel Pallet?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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A steel pallet is an open shipping container used to store and transport materials. Manufacturers stack supplies and materials onto these pallets, then wrap or cover them before shipping the pallet to stores throughout the world. These metal pallets serve as an alternative to the traditional wooden or plastic pallet, and often are stronger and more durable. In some areas, a steel pallet may also be referred to locally as a steel skid.

Steel pallets come in a variety of designs to meet the need of different manufacturers and shipping organizations. They often feature a square or rectangular design, and are designed for easy stacking. Most come in standard sizes, which vary by region or country, and allow them to fit into storage racks in warehouses or other facilities.

Depending on the needs of the user, both solid and webbed steel pallet models are available. Solid, or block units, feature a steel frame with steel planks lining the top and bottom in tight rows for extra support. Webbed, or stringer models feature a steel frame with only a few metal beams laid across the top and bottom for support. Both of these models are carefully designed to provide openings for forklift equipment, which is commonly used to transport these pallets.

Three types of steel can be used to make these pallets, and each offers its own distinct advantages. A standard carbon steel pallet is the most basic version, and generally the most economical of the three. Galvanized steel pallets feature a special zinc coating that helps protect the pallet from rust and corrosion. Stainless steel pallets are generally the most expensive, but offer the highest level of protection against corrosion, making them the best choice for marine environments. Stainless steel is also the easiest to clean, making it appropriate for food or medical-based applications.

One of the primary advantages to using steel pallets is their high level of strength and durability. Compared to wooden pallets, which are generally considered expendable, steel pallets are designed for extended reuse. They can also handle heavier loads than wood or plastic units without breaking, bending, or failing. Steel is also fire resistant and much easier to clean that wood, making it the pallet of choice for clean-room applications.

Buyers should be aware of the higher cost of a steel pallet compared to traditional pallet materials. These metal pallets also weigh more than wood or plastic units, and may cost more to ship in some applications. The higher costs associated with these pallets may be offset over time by savings associated with pallet reuse, rather than continuously purchasing new pallets.

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