June 7th, 2022
What is a Metal Pallet and How is it Used?
Metal and Steel Pallet Use Cases and Business Benefits
Robust, versatile and built to last, metal roll pallets and stillages are a big part of storage and transportation in logistics. They help organise inventory and have made it easy to move loads using forklifts. However, the efficiency of your logistics largely depends on your ability to select suitable pallets for your racks. This is why it is crucial to understand the different types of pallets available for use.
That said, this article will explore the different types of metal pallets, their usage, and their advantages and disadvantages.
What are metal pallets?
Metal pallets are one of four pallet categories based on material: wooden, plastic, paper, and metal pallets. They are named so because they are made from metal, usually aluminium, stainless steel, or carbon steel. Each of these sub-materials has different advantages and applications:
- Carbon steel is the cheapest of the three but costs more than wood and plastic. It also offers excellent durability.
- Stainless steel is the heaviest and most durable. It doesn’t require a paint coating and is preferred for clean, room environments.
- Electro zinc plated. Painted in durable, anti-corrosive, water-resistant coating to protect it from the elements all year round.
- Aluminium is almost as durable as stainless steel but significantly lighter. Thus, it’s best for applications where both weight and durability are of great importance. like the freight industry.
Although their popularity is steadily rising, metal pallets account for less than 1% of the pallet market. Their application is limited to industries that have heavy loads and highly-intensive logistics systems where strength and durability are important.
As a result, metal pallets are pretty popular in the automotive and metal processing sectors. Here, the upper parts of metal pallets are adapted to allow for the transportation of pre-assembled components. They can also be used for military ammunition and are slowly finding a place in the automotive industry.
The global demand for heavy merchandise shipping is also popularising aluminium pallets in freight shipping. Today, most airlines transporting heavy loads use aluminium post pallets during transit. This is because of their relatively light weight and durability compared to other options.
Pros and cons
Metal pallet and post pallet units come with several advantages, the biggest of which is their strength and durability. For instance, they can support heavier loads than paper, plastic, and wooden pallets. So if you’re dealing with heavy-duty materials of up to 2000 kg, you can be confident that you have something strong enough to meet your storage demands.
The metal pallet’s durability also means that it can withstand harsh environmental conditions for a long time. Overall, they last for more than ten years, which is twice or thrice what plastic and wooden pallets have to offer.
Similarly, metal pallets are easier to maintain. This is because they feature simple designs that are easy to clean and disinfect and due to the fact that metal does not accumulate as much dust and chemicals as wood or plastic. And unlike wooden pallets, metal pallets are resistant to bacterial and insect infestations.
Another advantage of metal pallets lies in their ‘recyclability’. Today, it’s become essential to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills. Thus, having a recyclable pallet unit such as a gitter box or stillage as part of your warehouse or logistics is always a plus. You can view our stillage buying guide for more in-depth take on the full business benefits of these steel solutions.
On the flip side though, metal pallets are more expensive upfront than those made from other materials. This is perhaps why they are yet to take over the mainstream. However, if you factor in maintenance, repair, and renewal costs, metal pallets end up being the more cost-effective option in the long run.
Galvanised steel pallets are also quite heavy, leading to higher transport costs.
How to maintain metal pallets
Metal pallets may be strong and durable, but they still need some maintenance and good practice. Doing this will also help you manage clutter and maintain a safe environment in your warehouse and storage facilities. Generally, you’ll want to:
Clean the pallets
Metal pallets are less prone to dirt and grime accumulation than wood and plastic. But if they stay neglected, especially in an industrial environment, you are bound to have a big problem in the long run. Hence, you must clean your metal pallet regularly by wiping with a wet cloth or hosing it from time to time.
Check the environment
You should also evaluate where you store your metal pallets. For instance, steel is generally resistant to corrosion. But if it’s stored in unfavourable conditions for extended periods, it begins to rust and deteriorate. This is especially the case in high humidity environments or those with corrosive chemicals.
You can protect your metal pallet by storing it in a dry and clean place away from potential causes of damage.
Metal pallets are durable but not indestructible. They have a pre-established capacity rating, one which if exceeded, will dramatically shorten the lifespan of your unit. But most people don’t get this, which is why overloading remains a leading cause of metal pallet damage.
Generally, you want to check the load capacity rating from the manufacturer. And if you want to avoid structural damage over time, don’t exceed these restrictions.
Selecting the best metal pallets for your facility
Having considered the type of material best suited to your needs from the wide range on offer, when choosing a specific type of pallet for your facility, you should also consider the following:
- The weight, size, and density of the supply chain materials you want to stock
- How ample is your warehouse storage space? Do you plan to stack your load in shelves or with nestable pallets?
- For how long do you need the pallets? Are they for short-term or long-term use? If long-term, then metal pallets should be perfect
- What kind of pallet racking and pallet display is required? Will it be publicly viewable for your customers to see or hidden away in the backroom?
- Your facility’s environment. Will your pallet be exposed to high temperatures, lots of frictions, or chemicals? Fortunately, there are metal racks designed for every environment
- The pallet size and pallet structure best suited to your storage facility. For example, if you’re running a food processing plant, you may want to consider plastic pallets instead.
Choose Your Metal Pallets Today
Taking all the different pallet materials, weights, size and use cases for your business, if you’ve reached the conclusion that the metal pallet’s most suitable for your needs, you should also think about the manufacturer you want to buy from.
Here at RollPallet UK, we manufacture and design some of the best metal pallets at relatively affordable prices with a price match promise if you can find better value from our competitors.
So whatever pallet you need, we got it and will ship to you no matter your location.