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MHIA Administers New MH1 Pallet Standards
Pallet Standards: Material Handling Industry of America is responsible for administering the committee that sets U.S. standards related to pallets, slip sheets and other bases for unit-loads.
By Ed Brindley
Date Posted: 10/1/2007
Pallet standards have been one of the debated issues in the pallet industry over the past couple of decades. Everybody in the pallet industry agrees that pallet standards are usually loosely applied. Many pallet users and pallet companies are vaguely familiar with the details of pallet standards. Most pallet companies believe that their job is to keep customers happy, to supply pallets that will do the job required and keep their customers happy.
Early in 2006, the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) assumed the responsibility for administering MH1, the premier committee that developed the U.S. standards relating to pallets, slip sheets and other bases for unit-loads. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) authorized the transfer of the work from ASME to MH1.
John Nofsinger, CEO of the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), was “pleased to bring this work within MHIA.”
Dr. Mark White, chairman of the MH1 committee, said, “In the trade, MHIA represents the unit load handling equipment suppliers and manages the MH 10 committee concerning unit loads and transport packaging. By adding the MH1 committee on pallet standards to MHIA activities, communications between the designers of all components of the unit load supply chain will be enhanced.”
The MH1 committee published a revised MH1 standard, titled “Pallets, Slip Sheets and Other Bases for Unit Loads.” The standard, approved on November 30, 2005, is a revision of the 1997 version. It is generally revised on a cycle of from three to five years. The MH1 book, a 224 page PDF, is priced at $95.
Any reader who would like more information on pallet and unit load standards might want to contact the Material Handling Industry at 704/676-1190.
Contents of MH1 Pallet Standards
Part 1 contains 38 pages of over 700 definitions and terminology. It references some 15 standards and specifications, in addition to a Fiber Box Handbook and FAO international standards for phytosanitary measures. In addition to three dimensional schematics of wooden stringer and block pallets, it has six pictures of specialty pallets manufactured from corrugated, honeycomb, molded plastic, and metal.
Part 2 contains seven pages of interesting information that relates to wooden pallet sizes, including the most common North American and international footprints, the utilization of floor area of common carriers for common North American pallet sizes, and the dimensions that were common to 48x40 pallets in 1996.
Part 3 contains 40 pages in three subparts packed with information about wooden pallet parts and construction. Subpart I is the prescriptive standard, which concerns the manufacture of a pallet. This subpart includes pallet and pallet-component descriptions, fastener descriptions, workmanship criteria, dimension tolerances, markings, and moisture content levels. A materials section includes relatively simple, but fairly complete coverage of lumber components, wood panel components, and fasteners. The overview of pallet repairing is pretty complete.
Subpart II is the performance standard, which concerns the functionality of a pallet. It includes references to the testing of physical and computer models to assist manufacturers, distributors,
Subpart III covers the quality assurance auditing program. The 40 pages on wooden pallet parts and construction provides a very good overview of facts about wooden pallets and their proper construction.
Part 4 provides a brief coverage of export pallets, in particular phytosanitary requirements. Things have changed so rapidly in this arena, that this portion of the MH1 Standard falls short on the details. More information is available from our site and that of the NWPCA.
While fasteners are anything but sexy, they are an important part of a wooden pallet. Parts 5 and 6 provide 40 pages brimming with details about fasteners. It probably contains more information than many people would want to have about fasteners, but it provides good information to those seeking knowledge about nails and pallet fasteners.
The Sardo Pallet Lab at Virginia Tech is well known for its large volume of pallet testing. Part 7 contains 33 pages packed with information about pallet testing, including drop testing, impact tests, vibration tests, lumber stiffness tests, compression tests, and lateral collapse tests. These tests include just about everything about pallets that anybody could need to know, such as sling-hoist handling, forklift impact, and deckboard-stringer torsion tests.
Part 8 has 12 pages about slip sheets, explaining everything from how they work to material choices, dimensions, testing, and published documents.
Part 9 (25 pages) covers wooden pallets for military use. Detailed drawings and specification details are provided for the reader’s convenience.
The final part provides information about performance specifications for pallets to be used in automated unit-load material handling equipment. Some of the topics include pallet deck flatness, slip resistance of pallet decks, and measuring pallet deflections.