Before sending your inventory to a distribution center, you will need to load all of your items onto a pallet (or skid) and prepare it for transport. If your supplier is sending your products directly to the fulfillment center for you, make sure they are packing your pallets correctly and consider sending them this article as a reference. Packing and wrapping a pallet may seem like a small step, but if done incorrectly, you risk damage or loss of expensive inventory and a potential delay in your overall fulfillment cycle.
Follow these 4 steps to make sure you are packing like a pro.
- Build a Base: First, lay out all of the cartons you will be stacking on the pallet. Do a thorough inspection on all of the items to make sure they are not broken, spoiled or show signs of moisture damage. A standard pallet size is 40” x 48” x 48” (including the pallet itself) so you will need to configure your cartons to fit within these dimensions. You will want to maximize your pallet loads, so square and rectangular cartons will work best (if you are using odd shaped boxes that will work, but will most likely fit less cartons per pallet). Build a square base and then step back to make sure your boxes fit squarely on the pallet, nothing is hanging off the sides, and that the cartons are stable.
- Layer Up: Once you have built a solid base, continue loading the pallet in vertical layers using the same configuration you used in the base, until you are just under the height limit. Items should be packed as compactly as possible in order to minimize shifting during transit.
- Protect Your Corners: Once you have loaded your pallet, you need to think about protecting it for transport. Edge Protectors are commonly used to avoid costly damage in transit and they also help ensure that your items are fitting squarely on the pallet. While not always necessary or required, it never hurts to add them to your skid. To use, simply place them on each corner (you may have to cut to fit).
- Stretch Wrap: The final step is stretch wrapping your pallet. The least expensive way to do this is manually, although larger companies or suppliers may have machinery to cut down on time and cost. If you are doing this yourself, purchase a roll of stretch wrap and proceed. First securely attach the stretch wrap to the pallet itself. Then, start wrapping from the bottom and loop around a few times to make sure it’s secure. Move upwards from the base in a continuous motion. Once you are at the top, cut the wrap and tuck the end under the last layer.
Follow these 4 simple steps and you will have solid and stable pallets to send to your fulfillment provider. As your business grows, consider having your supplier prepare the pallets, or invest in machinery to save time. If you are loading more than 15-20 skids per day, consider investing in stretch wrap machinery to become more efficient and save time.