Unit Load for Drums & Pails (December 2022)

Interaction Between the Components of Palletized Drums & Pails

With over 849 million new and recycled wooden pallets manufactured annually, having the ability to design and analyze the performance of a pallet for drums and pails means that pallets are more reliable and efficient with optimal material utilization.

“Pallets are currently designed using a uniformly distributed load (UDL) to determine the load capacity, which often leads to overdesigning a pallet, using more wood,” said Kristen DeLack, PE, PDS structural engineer. “Because of the shape of drums and pails, you now can design, analyze, and significantly reduce the deflection of the pallet in all support conditions compared to a uniformly distributed load.”

The release of PDS v6.6 completes a suite of unit load analysis options of corrugated boxes and plastic and steel pails and drums. In 2019, NWPCA released Unit Load for Corrugated Boxes. All unit load analyses in PDS include a pallet strength utilization number that reports the structural performance of the pallet under the specified load in addition to the Pass/Fail rating.

Research & Development

The Pallet Foundation funded the work of Virginia Tech graduate student, Mary Paz Alvarez, to conduct research to investigate the interaction between pails, drums, and pallets. This research will investigate the potential load bridging and unique stress distribution caused by pails and drums, and also explores how a pallet affects the strength of pails/drums; this could offer significant cost reductions to the industry.

This research required Mary to conduct hands-on work within testing laboratories at VA Tech’s Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design (CPULD) using multiple data acquisition systems, software, and testing machinery. Through her fellowship, Mary had the opportunity to publish, make presentations at conferences, and represent CPULD at industry trade shows.

The results of Mary’s research were implemented in NWPCA’s unit load design software, Pallet Design System™ (PDS). Her results will dramatically improve both the safety and efficiency of unit load material handling.

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