Timber Pallets Complying With AS4068

Timber Pallets Complying With AS4068
Timber Pallets Complying With AS4068 teaser

28 Mar 2018

Pallets are portable platforms with two levels designed for carrying loads. They facilitate safe transportation, efficient storage, and stacking using various lifting equipment.

What might surprise you is that Australia was one of the first places in the world to introduce standardised pallets. 

Timber pallets are commonplace in most warehouse-based industries in Australia. These Pallets have to comply with the Australian standard AS4068. This standard specifies the dimensions and performance of flat pallets used for materials handling, the perfect example of this is the WERKS Timber Pallets.

werks-timber-palllet-photo.jpg
Pictured: WERKS Timber Pallets

There are several different types of pallets, such as captive pallets, disposable pallets, four-way pallets and more. They can be made from different materials, such as timber, pine, and plastic; the most common are hardwood. Regardless of the different types and materials, they all need to comply with Australian Standard AS4068.

Why is AS4068 compliance important?

The AS4068 standard ensures safety, reliability, and quality in timber pallet construction and use in Australia. A benchmark for manufacturers and users, this standard outlines stringent requirements for materials, design, construction, and testing of timber pallets. 

Compliance with AS4068 guarantees that pallets can withstand the rigours of transportation and storage, reducing the risk of product damage and workplace accidents. It also promotes consistency across the industry, facilitating smoother logistics and supply chain operations.

As a business, adhering to this standard ensures that goods are handled and transported on pallets that meet nationally recognised standards, which demonstrates a commitment to quality and safety.
 

What to look for in a good pallet that conforms to Australian Standard AS4068

When you’re looking for a pallet that is AS4068 compliant, check for high-quality timber, precise nail placement, and robust construction. A pallet should also have passed rigorous load-bearing and structural integrity tests, and bear clear AS4068 markings or certifications.

Key criteria to look for include:
  • An Australian standard pallet is 1165mm × 1165 mm in size, and the loading dimension inside is 865mm.
  • Top boards will be a maximum of 150mm in width and a minimum of 22mm thick. The top intermediate board will be a minimum of 95mm wide and a minimum of 22mm thick, usually these are 25mm. There is no guidance on how many intermediate boards are needed.
  • The pallet should have a maximum overall height of 150mm
  • The overall weight of the unloaded pallet must be between 30-40kgs
  • It can hold up to a capacity of 2000kg in weight
  • Pallets that are made of hardwood and free from defects.
  • No cracks, lengthways or width ways which could put the boards at risk of breaking
  • Knots and holes need to be less than 50% of the board width.
  • There should be no protruding nails greater than 1mm or large splinters, and all boards are secure
  • No missing, damaged or misshapen boards.
  • Fungus or mould should not be present.
  • No chemicals, powders or oils should be present.
  • They should be pest-free and free of loose dirt and rubbish.


What’s the benefits of standard-size pallets in Australia?

Standard-size pallets have a number of advantages in Australia, such as streamlining logistics and enhancing operational efficiency. Using standard dimensions, such as 1165mm x 1165mm pallets, ensures compatibility with a wide range of handling equipment, such as forklifts and pallet jacks, reducing handling time and labour costs. It also simplifies the inventory management process, allowing for more accurate tracking and easier stacking. 

Standard-size pallets promote smooth, consistent, and cost-effective movement of goods throughout domestic and international markets by ensuring better interoperability with trading partners.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Some of the key benefits of using standardized pallets in Australia include:

Efficient Domestic Intermodal Transport

The Australian standard pallet size of 1165mm x 1165mm was specifically designed to fit perfectly into the RACE containers used on Australian railways. Using a standardized pallet tailored to Australian rail infrastructure, palletized goods can be transported seamlessly by rail domestically.

Optimises Warehouse Storage and Handling

Warehouses and storage facilities extensively use 1165mm x 1165mm pallets as racking pallets. Their uniform size allows for efficient stacking, storage, and retrieval using materials handling equipment designed for these dimensions, increasing productivity and safety in warehousing operations.

Facilitates Shared Use of Pallets and Equipment

A single standardised pallet size enables the sharing and pooling of pallets and associated handling equipment, such as forklifts, across the domestic supply chain. This reduces costs by avoiding the need for each company to invest in custom pallets and equipment.

Provides Consistency for Metrication

When Australia converted to the metric system, retaining the unique 1165mm x 1165mm pallet size allowed for rapid metrication of packaging and materials handling while maintaining continuity with existing infrastructure and processes.

Frequently asked questions around AS4068 compliance


What is AS4068, and why is it important for timber pallets?
  • AS4068 is the Australian Standard for the design, construction, and testing of timber pallets. It’s crucial because it sets the benchmark for quality and safety, ensuring that pallets are robust enough to handle the stresses of transportation and storage. Compliance with AS4068 minimises the risk of pallet failure, which can lead to product damage, safety hazards, and operational inefficiencies.
What are the key requirements of AS4068 for timber pallets?
  • AS4068 outlines specific criteria for the materials used, the design and construction methods, and the testing procedures that timber pallets must undergo. This includes standards for wood quality, nail placement, and load-bearing capacity. Pallets must be constructed to withstand specified loads without excessive deflection or structural failure.
How many standard Australian pallets fit into a container?
  • Based on the standard Australian pallet size 1165mm x 1165mm (around 4ft x 4ft), the number of standard Australian pallets that can fit into shipping containers is:
    • 10 standard Australian pallets can fit in a 20ft container*
    • 21 standard Australian pallets can fit in a 40ft container*
*Numbers are based on a single row. Double stacking the pallets may increase capacity.

How can a business ensure its timber pallets comply with AS4068?
  • To ensure compliance, businesses should source pallets from reputable manufacturers who adhere to AS4068 standards. They can request certification or proof of compliance from their suppliers. Additionally, businesses can perform regular inspections and tests on their pallets to ensure they meet the necessary standards for load-bearing and durability.
What are the consequences of using non-compliant pallets?
  • Using non-compliant pallets can lead to several issues, including an increased risk of pallet breakage, which can damage goods and pose safety hazards to workers. Non-compliance can also result in legal liabilities and potential financial losses due to damaged products and operational disruptions. It can also damage a company's reputation and reliability in the eyes of customers and business partners.
How does AS4068 compliance impact the cost and supply chain efficiency?
  • While compliant pallets may have a higher upfront cost due to stringent quality standards, they offer long-term savings by reducing the frequency of pallet replacements, minimizing product damage, and enhancing overall supply chain efficiency. Reliable, standardised pallets streamline handling, storage, and transportation processes, ultimately leading to cost savings and improved operational performance.
Can AS4068-compliant pallets be used for international shipping?
  • Yes, AS4068-compliant pallets can be used for international shipping, provided they also meet any additional international standards, such as ISPM 15 for phytosanitary measures. Compliant pallets are recognised for their quality and safety, facilitating smoother cross-border logistics and reducing the risk of compliance issues elsewhere.
What is the role of regular maintenance and inspection in maintaining AS4068 compliance?
  • Regular maintenance and inspection are critical for maintaining AS4068 compliance. Routine checks help identify and address wear and tear, ensuring that pallets remain in good condition and continue to meet safety standards. Proper maintenance extends the life of pallets and ensures their compliance, supporting ongoing operational efficiency and safety.


Summary

If you’re looking for a strong and reliable pallet, you can’t go past an AS4068-compliant timber pallet. Solid and strong enough to hold a heavier weight, they can also be repaired and restored far more easily than their plastic counterparts. 

Rail freight trains and rack systems in Australia are designed to transport Australian standard timber pallets smoothly from one place to another.

Pallet sizes vary from country to country, and this is unlikely to change in the near future due to the huge costs involved. You only need to consider a different size pallet for shipments outside of Australia. Otherwise, you’ll find an Australian standardised pallet is the only pallet you need, and a timber pallet is the ideal choice.

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