What are the different standards and methods for testing pallet stability?

There are number of methods that are used to test pallet stability. In this blog we will discuss the two recognised standards for pallet stability and several other ways businesses are testing their pallets.

EUMOS

EUMOS stands for the European Safe Logistics Association and their aim is to improve safety throughout the logistics chain. It is a non-profit association and relies on the exchange of best practices when working on higher safety standards for logistics.

The EUMOS 40509:2020 standard is a test method for load rigidity. This test method uses a horizontal acceleration-deceleration bench to propel a pallet down a track before bringing it to a sudden stop. A specialist camera is then used to measure the movement and deformation of the pallet. This test aims to recreate the force a pallet experiences during an emergency braking situation. This is the most extreme force a pallet is likely to encounter during transit and therefore it is a good indicator of how well your load will hold up during your supply chain. This is the standard we test to at Lindum and our Mobile Pallet Stability Test Lab is the UK’s only accredited testing laboratory.

Advantages:

  • It is a repeatable and controllable test.
  • A relatively low-cost testing solution.
  • It is focussed on emergency braking situations which is a key contributor to movement in transport.

Disadvantages:

  • EUMOS doesn’t consider all supply chain risks.
  • It doesn’t tell you how to improve pallet stability.
  • This testing method is only focussed on road freight.

ISTA

ISTA 3E is the other recognised standard for testing pallet stability. It is a very in-depth testing method, and its aims differ slightly from the EUMOS standard as ISTA 3E is focused around preventing product damage.

The ISTA testing method involves atmospheric conditioning, shock/impact, and vibration testing. Whilst it may be more in-depth, it is a considerably more expensive and time-consuming process than the EUMOS standard.

Advantages:

  • It is also a repeatable and controllable test.
  • The data allows you to compare the performance of different packaging types.
  • ISTA 3E considers all supply chain risks.

Disadvantages:

  • It is a high-cost option.
  • It is based on generalised supply chain conditions.
  • It still doesn’t tell you what to change to improve pallet stability.

Forklift Tilt Test

Forklift tilt testing involves tipping a pallet using a forklift and it is used by many warehouse operatives across the UK and Europe. This can be a good indicator of pallet stability.

Advantages:

  • It is very low cost.
  • This method will give you a good idea of load rigidity.

Disadvantages:

  • Some warehouses and factories consider this a health and safety risk.
  • It is hard to measure accurately and consistently.
  • Again, it doesn’t tell you how to improve load stability.

‘Timothy’ Test

Timothy is no particular person but rather the name we have given to that operator in every factory and warehouse who has the final say on pallet stability. The ‘Timothy’ test involves a visual examination and shanking the pallet to feel and assess the pallet.

Advantages:

  • It is low cost.
  • It is based on experience and ‘Timothy’ will likely have a good idea of what a stable pallet looks and feels like.

Disadvantages:

  • The ‘Timothy’ test is not measurable.
  • This is not a consistent testing method as it is entirely subjective to the individual’s opinion.
  • It doesn’t tell you how to solve and instability issues.

Transit Trial

Perhaps one of the most commonly used methods of testing pallet stability. Transit trials involve loading truck with pallets of goods and sending it on a real-life journey to assess packaging performance.

Advantages:

  • Transit trials are relatively low cost.
  • It replicates the actual supply chain.

Disadvantages:

  • The feedback can be hard to interpret.
  • Results are very subjective.
  • It is very hard to ensure each test is consistent.

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