The Difference between Shipping Goods on Pallets and in Containers4 min read


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The difference between shipping goods on pallets and in containers

Pallets and containers are load units that serve as the most often used and practical means of transporting many various goods. The general idea of using them is to form a group of separate packages so that a single handling operation can be carried out. Yet, there are differences between shipping goods on pallets and in containers.

The main difference is that the pallets are open and therefore the goods shipped on them are not limited by a pallet’s frame (as there isn’t any). This is not the case with the shipping containers whose volumetric capacity is limited by their metal frame. Both pallets and containers have their own advantages, which we will present in this article. Let’s have a closer look!

The advantages of using pallets as compared to containers

Many manufacturers and shippers of commercial goods use pallets. The pallet is a relatively small wooden, plastic or metal platform on which the cargo is stacked for storage or transport. We know pallets of different sizes, which are used in different parts of the world. The size of a standard European pallet (also called EUR-pallet or EPAL-pallet) is 1.2 m x 0.8 m.

In comparison to containers, the main advantages of using pallets as a transportation means are:

  • Although both handling pallets and handling containers require efforts and resources, pallets would usually need smaller and more manoeuvrable technical equipment (such as ordinary forklifts) than containers (which would require using cranes or special forklifts that are much bigger and less manoeuvrable than the ordinary ones). That is why using pallets usually reduces the price of delivery services as handling them is usually less time- and effort-consuming in comparison to handling containers.
  • In some cases, when it is impossible to use a container due to its small size, a pallet will enable you to ship large or odd-sized cargo that would not fit into a single container. This particularly applies to air freight containers that are usually smaller than sea freight
  • Using pallets makes it often faster to deliver your shipment to a chosen destination. It is primarily due to the fact that preparing, handling and transporting pallets usually require less time and effort than it does in case of using containers.

What happens with an unclaimed freight?

The advantages of using shipping containers as compared to pallets

There are many different types of shipping containers. Their characteristics differ depending on whether they are transported by road, rail, sea or air. The most general and important properties of shipping containers are:

  • their structure (metal frame);
  • their size, which is ranging approximately from:
    • from 1.56 m x 1.53 m x 160 m (air freight containers)
    • to 16 m x 2.5 m x 2,9 m (sea freight containers).

The main difference lies between air shipping containers on one side and road, rail and sea shipping containers on the other side. They differ by their size. As seen from the above dimensions given as an example, air freight containers are much smaller in comparison to those transported by sea, road, and rail. These are pretty much of the same dimensions and can be interchangeable, though those that belong to the biggest ones are most often used for sea shipping.

These are the main advantages of shipping your goods in containers as compared to shipping them on pallets:

  • Shipping containers are usually robust metal boxes that provide good protection for their content against damage during transit. For example, fire and humidity protection.
  • Containers prevent any unauthorized access to their content as they are equipped with special locks that ensure a higher level of safety for the goods inside them in terms of loss or theft of the latter.
  • Some containers may provide special temperature control surveillance, which may be crucial for the transportation of temperature-sensitive goods. These are notably refrigerated containers (also called reefers).

The importance of choosing the right shipping services

All the above being said, it is important to understand that the one’s choice of the right transport service depends on the point of departure and the point of the final destination of the goods shipped, on the given timeframe (if any) for delivery, on the available budget and on other specific conditions and requirements.

If you are looking for a reliable logistics service provider offering a wide range of high-quality logistics services at very reasonable prices, you can always reach for Eurosender. Should you need any advice or consultation related to different shipping services, give us a call or send us an email. Eurosender is always there for you ready to help you!


Last modified: December 20, 2019

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