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.

ISO block compression test

Pallet design software should ideally be very close to testing results, although nailing is weak with software. For European pallets this does not handle base 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 - Flat pallets - Part 2: Performance requirements and selection of tests

EN ISO 8611-3: 2011 - 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 metod is given in the new ISO 8611 and initially places a more uniform load on a pallet deck. However it has been shown to need careful control of bag size and deck overlap to achieve a valid result and this complexity means it is rarely used in Europe.

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PDF21c List of pallet tests in BS EN ISO 8611 - 2011. (PDF 81kb)
PDF21f Every pallet has more than one safe working load (PDF 152kb)
PDF21g Field, Load & Proof testing. (PDF 46kb)
PDF21h Bridged loads increase safe pallet payload. (PDF 159kb)
PDF21k History of ISO 8611 pallet testing standard used across the world. (PDF 134kb)
PDF21n Testing of wood pallets (PDF 40kb)
PDF25b Data we need to estimate SWL on a pallet. (PDF 200kb)
PDF28a Software for computer aided pallet design. (PDF 13kb)
PDF34d TüV third-party certification system for products (PDF 72kb)
PDF52m Mibant angle v static 3 point bending ISO 15629 Annex B (PDF 400kb)
PDF92a Safety factors in wood pallets and packaging. (PDF 84kb)
PDF92c Pallet distortion and creep deflection under load. (PDF 30kb)
PDF94b Marking of pallets with safe load is not recommended. (PDF 64kb)
PDF96c HSE Fee for Intervention - commenced 2012. (PDF 136kb)
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