Custom Pallet Design: A Guide to Our Five-Step Consultation Process

If your pallet needs go beyond standard Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) style pallets, 48forty is well-equipped to meet those demands. With our expansive network that extends across North America, we are capable of providing not only standard but also custom-sized pallets, whenever and wherever needed. Our goal is to provide personalized, functional, and cost-effective pallet solutions that enhance the productivity and profitability of our customers.

Here's our five-step process for custom pallet design:


Gathering Specifications and Requirements

Our relationship with a new client begins with an in-depth interview. This allows us to gather essential information for designing their custom pallets. During this stage, we learn about the client's products and how the pallets will be utilized and transported through their customer’s supply chain. Based on the client's inputs and our expertise, we identify unique concerns, such as frequent board breakage, product slippage, product damage, or containment failures. We strive to understand the entire unit load, the interactions between product, packaging and material handling equipment, to completely understand and propose the best solutions for our customers, keeping in mind their unique needs and characteristics. We stress to our customers the importance of our involvement as early in the process as possible, whether for a startup, renovations, or updating to automation. During the design phase we can provide important insight into long-term cost savings regarding unit load expense.

Site Visit

Once we understand the client's needs and the challenges they're facing, we may conduct a site visit. This allows us to better tailor our solutions to the client's specific circumstances. During the visit, we review any questions the client may have, as well as validate the product specifications and unit load characteristics. If necessary, we also measure and document how the previous or current pallet functions or functioned, taking note of important factors like heat treatment, mold sensitivity, the type of material handling equipment used, and the level of automation at our customer’s facility or downstream in the supply chain.

Pallet Design Using Pallet Design System (PDS)

With a clear understanding of the client's needs and the specifications of the product being shipped, we move to the design phase. We use PDS, a comprehensive tool for pallet design and performance analysis, to create and optimize the pallet design. This tool allows us to ensure that the pallet design is suitable for the client's specific requirements, including load capacity, stacking, handling, and shipping, potential durability, and carbon footprint impact. The data generated will show us whether the pallet is safe to test in a controlled environment. All of a customer’s specific requirements can be notated on the PDS specification.

Solution Proposal and Testing

Once the pallet design is finalized, we present the client with a solution that includes an engineered drawing of the custom pallet. This gives the client a clear understanding of how the pallet will be assembled. After the design and price are confirmed, we produce pallet samples. The PDS System allows us the ability to understand the specifics and capabilities of the pallet design and validates that we can then produce sample pallets for testing in a controlled area. Testing over time allows the customer and 48forty staff to understand the true functionality of the pallet in the unit load and in the customer’s environment. Measurement and validation is a key step. This allows us to verify the functionality of the pallet design before moving into full-scale production.

Production and Delivery

After the test phase, we begin production and schedule delivery for the first load of custom pallets to the client. We ensure that the pallets meet the established requirements and are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Choosing a reliable pallet management provider is an important part of supply chain planning. When evaluating providers, businesses should ensure that the provider has a wide-reaching service area, a dedicated point of contact, and in-depth market knowledge. A provider should offer more than just pallets; they should provide additional value services that can improve functionality and reduce costs, while solving customers’ problems.

Why 48forty Solutions?

At 48forty, our pallets are inspected before delivery to ensure they meet the clients' specifications and quality standards. We believe in open and consistent communication with our clients to ensure their success. For instance, if a client informs us about an upcoming product line change, we leverage that information to plan and implement new solutions proactively. The more time we take to learn our customer’s business, the better we’re able to design customized new pallets as their business needs change over time. We also provide insights into market conditions to ensure we’re having a well-rounded discussion of those things that could impact their pallet decisions and needs moving forward.


48forty Solutions is one of the largest pallet companies in North America, with a network that spans over 275 facilities, more than 850 partners, and a private fleet of 8,018 trailers and tractors. Whether you're a local or national operation, you can count on us to meet your custom pallet needs.