Pallet Testing

Pallet designs need to be confirmed as safe whether by software, working to a specific design supplied by a competent authority, or by load testing. European and ISO pallet standards define load testing of pallets as the method of doing this which is because load testing is as close to real life loading as it is possible to get. This is since load testing does not have to make generalised mathematical assumptions about quality of nails or timber which are often not available to the person inputting data to software. Closer to real life also means that compared with pallet design software, testing usually specifies less timber and therefore a more commercial result follows.

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Good pallet design software can be very close to testing results although nailing is the weak point with some software which does not handle joint strength in a manner that reflects its structural significance.

When basic data is required on a new design or an existing packaging product, load testing is invaluable. It can form the basis for a manufacturer’s confidence in marketing or making subsequent deviations to optimise materials, yet still be confident of overall safety. There is also no doubt that testing gives sales staff confidence in a product. Some customers require testing evidence, they want a certificate or report, nothing less. There are two distinct types of load test: proof testing and testing to destruction. Most pallet testing is testing to destruction, since it is only possible to measure a pallet load-safety factor if the item under test has been taken above safe load right up to breaking load. If you use load testing be sure the organisation undertaking it uses the right protocol.

Turning to the protocols, the most popular in Europe is the well tried pallet load testing standard ISO 8611 in 3 parts - 

EN ISO 8611-1: 2011 "Pallets for materials handling - Flat pallets - Part 1: Test methods"

EN ISO 8611-2: 2011 "Pallets for materials handling - Flat pallets - Part 2: Performance requirements and selection of tests"

EN ISO 8611-3: 2011 "Pallets for materials handling - Flat pallets - Part 3: Maximum working loads"

These are the best analytical tools for users or manufacturers to know exactly how pallets perform under realistic conditions. Full size specimen pallets are required, plus nails of each size used in the pallet.

PalletLink provide a service to members offering advice on safe load. Some designs such as the Europallet have their own long established tests such as those operated by EPAL who are responsible for maintaining the quality and registration of Europallet makers. EPAL also emphasise the importance of fastening strength and accredit nail manufacturers.

Some labs favour the system of pallet loading using an airbag. This protocol is given in the new ISO 8611 and places a more uniform load on a pallet deck. However it has been shown to need careful control of additional variables such as bag size and deck overlap to achieve a valid result and this complexity means it is rarely used in the Europe.

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PDF21c List of pallet tests in new BS EN ISO 8611 - 2011 (PDF 42kb)
PDF21f Every pallet has more than one safe working load (PDF 161kb)
PDF21g Field, Load & Proof testing. (PDF 46kb)
PDF21h Bridged payloads allow pallets to exceed BS rating (PDF 142kb)
PDF21k History of ISO 8611 - a pallet testing standard used across the world (PDF 31kb)
PDF25b Input to be provided to calculate safe working load on a pallet. (PDF 64kb)
PDF28a Software for computer aided pallet design. (PDF 13kb)
PDF34d TüV third-party certification system for products (PDF 72kb)
PDF52m Mibant, Rockhi, Verus - nail bending test methods (PDF 56kb)
Word Doc.92a Safety factors in wood pallets and packaging. (Word Doc. 59kb)
PDF94b Marking of pallets with safe load is not recommended. (PDF 64kb)
PDF96c HSE Fee for Intervention - commences 1 October 2012 (PDF 37kb)
PDF97t PalletLink Consultancy and Testing - Terms & Conditions of Service. (PDF 16kb)
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