Although the terms are often used interchangeably, the only true difference between a skid and a pallet is how the main platform is supported. Understanding this difference is crucial to ensuring you can transport and store your goods as efficiently as possible, streamlining your entire logistics operation.
What are the differences between a pallet and a skid?
Despite their differences, even industry workers mix the two terms, which makes ascertaining what you really need pretty confusing. In terms of look, design and purpose, skids and pallets are very similar. They're both types of square platforms that are designed to bear weight for storage or transportation.
The difference is entirely down to what's underneath. Skids typically have 'feet' or 'pedestals' underneath the loading deck, where pallets are supported by three or four stringers across the length of the pallet in either direction.
Designs do vary, with some skids having full-length 'runners' instead of feet, all facing the same direction to encourage a gliding motion during transport. Meanwhile, certain pallets have more supporting beams than others, and may have top and bottom platforms or decks.
Should you buy a pallet versus a skid?
Whether you should buy a pallet or a skid comes comes down to how and when you'll be using it. Both designs have benefits, and your decision should be based on how they'll fit into or improve your existing operations.
When to buy a skid:
Skids come into their own when you need to store empty pallets in a minimal space. You may also see them referred to as nestable pallets because the feet of the skid can be designed to sit inside each other so they take up less room vertically when not in use. Nested pallets allow you to fit a larger number of them into a shelving unit, or cut shipping costs by booking smaller spaces.
They're easier to move when loaded as there's less friction to compete against – particularly helpful when storing heavy equipment that needs moving around regularly. It also means they can be dragged or hauled and can glide through difficult or uneven terrain, such as sand.
When to buy a pallet:
Pallets really win when you need strength and stability. The extra support allows the pallet to bear more weight without collapsing under the pressure – especially where there is uneven load across the platform. The additional friction caused by the more extensive supports makes it less likely to slip or slide, and pallets are designed to work with a range of machinery to ensure they can be stored at height, fully loaded.
What to consider when buying pallets and skids
- Pallet jacks and forklifts – You need to be able to move your skid or pallet at some point, whether loaded or not. It's important to understand what equipment you'll need for all types of handling and lifting needed to keep your operations running smoothly.
- Weight-bearing – Consider everything you might want to store on your pallet or skid to get an accurate picture as to how much weight you need it to bear. Guessing, or not properly taking into account how you'll use your purchase, could mean you end up with a product that doesn't suit your requirements.
- Racking and shelving – Both loaded and unloaded, you'll need to store your pallets and warehouses often make use of racking and shelving to ensure they maximise storage space. Consider what equipment is required to place pallets or skids in your storage of choice, while fully loaded.
- Supply chain requirements – Whatever you use must fit into your whole supply chain. As well your warehouse, the design must work with all sections of your transportation network, including those operated by third parties. Look at what trucks and containers are used throughout the delivery process.
- Materials used – Pallets are made from a variety of materials including plastic, wood, metal and cardboard. Skids are more likely to be made from plastic or cardboard. If your organisation has made a commitment to recycling, sustainable sourcing or reusable pallets, the materials used might be a crucial part of your decision-making process.
When neither a skid or pallet will do
Crates ensure your load arrives in one piece, no matter how you have to transport it.
If neither a pallet or a skid sounds quite right, here's your secret third option – a crate. Fantastic for protecting goods from harm during transit, crates are designed with robust sides and securely fitted lids for extra safety. Especially popular in industries with easily damaged goods, such as grocery manufacturers, pharmaceutical suppliers and textiles producers, crates ensure your load arrives in one piece no matter how you have to transport it.
Top-of-the-range crates, such as the newly released Oz Crate, fold down into a slimline design for efficient storage during or after transportation. Meanwhile, the sides of the crate can also fold down to allow easy access to the goods inside when not everything needs unloading at once, and individual items need less protective packaging.
For more advice about which type of pallet, skid or crate suits your individual needs, get in touch with the Eco Pallets team. Our experienced advisors can help you make your business more efficient today.