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Pallet packaging – 7 advantages of well-optimised boxes

Richard Coombes: Last Updated 27th March 2024
Posted In: Efficiency & Productivity | Guides and Advice | Transit Protection xx 31623

Pallet box optimisation

How optimising your pallet packaging can significantly improve your operations

If your business ships products in bulk, you may be surprised to learn that your pallet packaging – and particularly well-optimised boxes – can significantly impact your operations.

Pallet packaging includes large pallet boxes, smaller packs, and secondary materials such as strapping and stretch wrap. Optimising your pallet packaging can save considerable cost through space efficiency, load density, and reducing transit damage. Pallet-optimised boxes can also improve staff productivity and safety.

This guide briefly covers the different pallet packaging types and several pallet optimisation tips. However, it also highlights seven business-critical advantages you can expect if you maximise the effectiveness of your pallet boxes.



Types of pallet packaging

There are two main types of pallet packaging – full pallet boxes and smaller (potentially optimised) packs.

Full pallet boxes, also called bulk boxes, are large, single corrugated boxes attached to a pallet. This type of pallet box is suitable for larger items, loose filled with smaller items, or even having smaller boxes placed within them.

This type of pallet packaging can also become a “composite pack” that includes inserts such as foam end caps, dividers or product-specific cradles.

Pallet-optimised boxes house an individual product but maximise the space available on a pallet when arranged in a specific pattern. This type of pallet packaging is suited to businesses that ship large numbers of individual units to a single destination.

In addition to this, pallet packaging often includes strapping and stretch wrap. Stretch or pallet wrap securely holds smaller units together, reducing the risk of them shifting, tipping or colliding during transit. The film can also help protect against moisture and dust.

Optimising your pallet packaging can have a number of surprisingly significant benefits for your business

Pallet packaging optimisation

How do you optimise your packaging for pallets?

Being critical to the success of your operations, pallet optimisation (to maximise efficiency) is a topic in its own right.

However, it includes a requirement to assess your products and their packaging requirements, including the volumes you are sending. Understanding this lets you select the correct pallet dimensions (typically UK or Euro sizes).

It is crucial, however, not to consider product size, pallet dimensions and pallet packaging itself in isolation. Combining all three factors allows you to develop custom pallet boxes or bespoke pallet-optimised boxes that offer the maximum benefit.

Beyond this, you must also remember any regulatory and customer requirements and ensure you train staff to stack and load the pallet packaging in the most efficient manner.

7 advantages of optimised pallet packaging

The impact of suitable pallet packaging on your business

While there may be many factors to consider, getting your pallet packaging right can significantly and positively impact your business. The advantages of using optimised boxes for your pallet packaging include:

  • Improved load density and efficient space utilisation.
  • A reduction in transport costs.
  • Improved sustainability of your packaging.
  • A reduction in secondary packaging requirements.
  • Better protection for products during shipping.
  • Increased safety.
  • Enhanced staff productivity.
Pallet packaging in a warehouse
Optimising your pallet packaging can have a number of significant advantages

Load density

Improving the space efficiency of your pallet packaging

Arguably the biggest benefit of optimising your pallet packing is improved load density, resulting in better space efficiency.

Suppose your packaging is optimised to maximise the available space on a pallet. In that case, it allows you to store more products in your available warehouse space and transport more products per shipment.

A reduction in warehouse space and even on packing lines can significantly impact your costs. Moving more products per journey (i.e. by forklift) can improve productivity too.

As well as being achieved through size-optimised boxes, simply choosing the right pallet size and box can have a surprisingly significant impact.

Reduced transport costs

How optimised pallet packaging can save you money

As with load density and storage in your warehouse, optimised pallet packaging also helps reduce your transport costs.

Firstly, using all available space on your pallets ensures you ship the maximum number of products per shipment. This approach improves your transport efficiency, in turn lowering your costs.

Unoptimised pallet boxes often mean you are paying to transport empty space within your shipments. This inefficiency, over time, can significantly increase your costs.

A pallet of optimised goods, being loaded on to a lorry with a pallet lift.
Optimised pallet packaging can maximise available space on transport, reducing costs and CO2 emissions.

Improved sustainability

Minimising the environmental impact of your pallet packaging

Alongside transit costs, the right pallet packaging can improve your sustainability, too.

Minimising the number of journeys/loads to ship your products to customers reduces the associated CO2 emissions from transport.

Besides this, using a cardboard pallet box ensures your packaging is easy to recycle and, if working with a reputable packaging supplier, likely to use material from FSC-certified sources. Optimised boxes typically use less material, too.

Reduced secondary packaging

Minimising or eliminating void fill and other material requirements

The pallet packaging you choose can actually reduce the amount of packaging you need to use overall.

For example, packaging that is the ideal size for your products and pallets reduces the need for additional void fill. Using an outer pallet box can eliminate the need for plastic stretch wraps (which can be difficult to recycle).

By reducing the amount of secondary packaging, you are not only reducing weight and environmental impact but also have the potential to reduce your costs significantly.

A worker in PPE, moving a pallet full of packaging through a warehouse on a pump truck.
Correctly sized pallets and pallet packaging can save space on the pallet and within the pack itself

Protection during transportation

Pallet packaging that minimises shipping damage

Alongside a reduction in secondary packaging, correctly sized boxes can also improve protection for goods during transit.

If a pack is too large, the product or part within has the potential for movement. This movement can result in the item becoming damaged (typically caused by the item hitting the internal walls of the pack).

Whilst you can mitigate this issue with void fill and other secondary packaging, custom-sized transit packaging inherently minimises this.

The advantages of preventing damage in transit are numerous, but most notably include reducing returns and the associated costs, increased customer satisfaction, and your business developing a reputation for reliability.

Increased safety

Protecting your staff

Packaging designed without consideration for use on pallets can pose health and safety issues.

Poor stacking and weight distribution can make boxes likely to shift or even topple off of the pallet, resulting in potential injury (as well as damage to the products).

Packaging difficult to unload or unload can also lead to poor manual handling practices.

You can address these issues, however, with well-optimised pallet boxes. And optimising your packaging can even go as far as adding relevant handling symbols and instructions.

A worker in hi-vis, moving a wrapped pallet with a manual forklift.
Optimised pallet packaging can play an important part in staff safety as well as overall efficiency.

Staff productivity

Improvements to employee output

Finally, improvements to your packaging can also increase staff productivity.

Packs that are easy to load/stack on pallets allow staff to process more units in the same time. Reducing secondary packaging and its processes (e.g. adding void fill) also helps speed up packing times.

Choosing the right pallets can also allow for easier manoeuvrability by forklift operators and quicker retrieval of pallets from warehouse racking or other storage locations.


Advantages of well-optimised pallet packaging

Pallet boxes have several inherent benefits for specific applications. They are easy to handle (using forklifts or pallet trucks), are widely accepted by most businesses and transport providers, are typically recyclable and are often reusable.

But pallet packaging that is truly optimised can have significant benefits for your business in terms of cost, usability and even sustainability.

At GWP, we have a team of experts with vast experience in maximising the effectiveness of all types of packaging – including pallet boxes, export packaging, heavy-duty and even timber shipping crates. So, if you require assistance optimising your pallet packaging, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Further reading

About the author

Richard Coombes

Richard Coombes

General Manager | GWP Protective

Having originally joined GWP Protective back in 2004, working on the factory floor, Richard now heads up the business as General Manager.
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