We’re always receiving inquiries about the overall dimensions of standard pallets, and how many pallets can fit within different types of trailers, containers and trucks. In this article we’re going to go over some of the details you should know about in terms of loading trucks as efficiently as possible.
A full truck load (FTL) generally depends upon the internal dimensions of the truck, pallet size, and shipment weight. For less than FTL requirements or Less Than Truckload (LTL) freight is often moved in slightly smaller trailers. The typical sizes of trailers include 24, 40, 45, 48 and 53 feet long, but understanding efficient shipping methods with pallets goes much further than these basics.
The following are some of the details to keep in mind in terms of understanding how many pallets can fit within any given truck or trailer:
What are the typical shipping skid/pallet sizes?
Pallets, also called skids, come in a whole variety of sizes. The usual standard pallet sizes include the following:
The typical height of a pallet is 5.5”, but many shippers will custom-build their pallets and make them anywhere from 3.5” to 6” tall.
Standard 48”x 48” pallets typically weigh about 40 lbs., and can handle weights up to 2,5000 lbs., but it’s possible to custom-build skids to load up to 4,500 lbs. on them. Of course it’s always absolutely imperative to abide by DOT weight requirements to avoid any potential penalties at inspection stations!
How many standard sized pallets fit within a trailer?
It’s always important to have a thorough understanding of any given trailer’s inner dimensions prior to making any packing decisions, but here are the standard inner dimensions of a 53’ trailer:
It’s also important to know the exact weight of your trailer while planning any given load. The following are some of the numbers in terms of standard sized pallets fitting within a 53’ trailer:
Within 45 or 48 foot trailers the following pallet numbers apply:
Within 40’ containers you can typically fit 20 48”x 48” pallets, and this larger sized pallet doesn’t fit well within 20’ containers. For 20’ containers, you should consider 48” x 42” pallets (10 per FTL).
Understanding the term “turn the skid”
The idea of “turning the skid” refers to a loading technique that helps shippers more efficiently utilize a trailer’s space in order to maximize the amount of pallets/skids. This loading technique will require the use of a forklift, and it essentially is the process of alternating how you place each pallet within the truck between width-wise and length-wise.
“Turning the skid” requires “4-way pallets”, and it ultimately makes a much more efficient use out of a given trailer’s space. This technique is also very helpful in terms of protecting cargo from shifting around during transport.
Understanding floor loading
Floor loading, also called hand packing, can help create cost savings. It’s important to know that your freight should be really light if you’re going to go about this manual handling method, though!
The common trade-off to this is that although you may save finances by packing in more freight, you’ll need much more time for loading and unloading by hand.