pallet

Keep That Pallet Covered Up

Why Your Big Pallet Isn’t Doing Your Freight Any Favors

Why would a box of automobile parts be classed as a pallet? Or an antique chair? How about a television?

If you think there is no way that these can be classed (and charged) as a pallet, unfortunately you would be wrong. 

If your commodity does not cover at least 65% of the pallet you are using, the carrier can re-class your shipment as a pallet. And this can spell disaster for your shipping budget if you aren’t prepared, because now, in addition to an inspection fee, your price will change on account of a different NMFC classification being used.

If you are thinking that this rule sounds vaguely familiar, you would be right. While the 65% pallet rule is relatively new, this rule is an extension of a previous rule that applies to other types of shipping containers. For example, if your box is only 50% full, you can be classed and charged as if it were a box.

Why is this? In short – it’s all about trying to combat wasted space. After all, freight carriers’ goal is to maximize the amount of stuff they can haul. Lower density shipments (that means shipments that don’t weigh a lot but take up a significant amount of space) make moving the freight more expensive. If a shipment only covers part of a pallet or box, that spells wasted space for the carrier because the pallet or box still takes up room.

So before you send your shipment on its merry way, remember this: when in doubt, measure it.

If to the naked eye, your commodity does not appear to be covering at least 95% of the pallet – do a quick measurement just to make sure.

  • Step 1 – Measure the surface area of the pallet (length x width = surface area)
  • Step 2 – Measure the commodity’s footprint (length x width = surface area)
  • Step 3 – Make sure it passes the 65% Test by dividing the commodity’s footprint by the pallet’s surface area (commodity/pallet). If the number is less than 65%, you didn’t pass (ugh, it’s like pre-calculus all over again).

Are you a visual learner? Us too. Just take a look at some of the examples below of shipments that were re-classed as pallets because they didn’t pass the 65% test.

Example 1: This commodity covers approximately 39% of the pallet, so it was re-classed as a pallet.

Example 2: This one is a little trickier to spot, because it appears like it is covering most of the pallet. But in reality, only a 1/3 of the pallet is covered, so this was also re-classed as a pallet.

It’s hard to believe that your shipment can be considered a pallet in the eyes of the freight carrier – but it can happen! So if your shipment doesn’t pass the 65% test, move the commodity to a smaller pallet. Also keep in mind that there are companies that can make custom pallets to meet your specific needs. And of course, if you are ever in doubt or have a question about this – or any other classification or shipping issue – your Unishippers shipping expert is here to help.