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Floor Loaded vs Palletized: Which is Right for You?

Resources > Floor Loaded vs Palletized: Which is Right for You?
Don't know how to load your freight? Find out if floor loading or palletizing works best for you.
Published: January 19, 2022
Last Modified: August 28, 2023
Author: Jacob Lee

Trailers and cargo containers can be filled with all kinds of freight. When it comes to loading freight, shippers typically stick to two primary methods: Floor loaded vs palletized. So which is right for you?

Floor-loaded freight is stacked from floor to ceiling without the use of a pallet. Palletized freight involves securing cargo to pallets that are loaded into a truck or container. Palletized shipping is better for speed and efficiency, while floor loading is geared toward cost savings and smaller freight.

In our article below, we have laid out more important details about floor-loaded freight and palletized shipping.

What is Floor Loading?

When freight is loaded onto the floor of a trailer and stacked toward the ceiling, it is called floor-loaded freight. Freight like this is considered “loose” since it is not secured by anything. You may also see it referred to as non-palletized freight.

Most floor-loaded shipments are full of packages that are too small to be secured by pallets. However, some floor load products are extremely large and awkwardly shaped. 

These can include products like:

  • Tires
  • Ladders
  • Rolled Up Carpets
  • Pipes
  • Metal Coils

Loading Floor Loaded Freight 

Floor loading isn’t as simple as piling boxes upon one another. Floor-loaded freight is stacked like a wall. Shipping companies require their warehouse workers to follow guidelines when they handle floor-loaded freight. 

The guidelines for shipping companies are relatively the same. The guidelines companies keep for floor loaded freight is as follows:

  1. Lift packages with your legs and not your back.
  1. Heavy and average-sized packages that are shoulder-width are placed at the bottom of the wall. These types of packages will serve as the base. 
  1. Extremely long and thin packages should be placed on the far right or the far left of the wall. In some instances, they can be placed at the top.
  1. Smaller boxes should be placed at the very top of the wall to fill in any remaining space that is left. 

The main reason for these guidelines is safety. An improperly loaded wall of floor-loaded freight could potentially fall on the person loading or unloading it. 

Walls that are properly loaded are also safer for the packages themselves. Since they’re packed in tightly, it removes the possibility that they might bounce around or fall and break.

What is Palletizing?

Multiple rows of stacked pallets

The process of palletizing is when cargo is wrapped up and secured to a pallet. Pallets are the wooden structures that cargo is stacked onto when it's shipped. Larger boxes tend to be secured to pallets as well as extremely fragile pieces of freight.

Loading Palletized Freight

Just as with floor-loaded freight, palletized freight has its own unique style of loading that roughly all shipping companies use. Forklift operators follow these guidelines when they lift pallets:

  1. Examine the pallet. This includes checking its condition, whether or not it has been loaded evenly and whether the weight can be lifted by the forklift.
    1. Damaged pallets should be replaced
    2. Unevenly loaded pallets should be lifted using the heels of the arms of the forklift
  2. Before putting the forks into the pallet, make sure that the forklift is in an upright position.
  3. Forks must be spaced appropriately when lifting pallets. This is done by making sure the forks never touch any part of the pallet until it begins to lift the pallet. 
  4. Properly spread the forks for maximum lifting ability. 
  5. For extra security, have the forks tilted slightly back when lifting the pallets
  6. Pallets are meant to be lifted and not pushed across the warehouse floor. Pushing the pallets can cause unnecessary damage to them
  7. Once the pallet is lifted, move it to its designated place and lower it gently. 

Forklift procedures are used to ensure the safety of the forklift operator as well as warehouse workers nearby. These guidelines also ensure that the pallets and the freight they carry are not damaged either. 

Floor Loading vs Palletizing: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between floor loading freight and palletizing is that floor loading doesn’t utilize a pallet while palletized freight does. Another difference is that cargo loaded using the floor loaded method tends to fill the entire trailer, container, or vehicle that is transporting the freight.

The way that each type of freight is loaded is also different. Due to the weight of palletized loads, forklifts have to be used to move them across the warehouse and to load and unload them into whatever container is used for transport.

Floor-loaded freight is much lighter and is not always large enough to be secured by a pallet. Because of this, floor-loaded freight is instead loaded and unloaded by hand.

What are the Pros and Cons of Floor Loading?

Forklift driving up to palletized box

There are many different pros and cons to using floor loading freight that you should consider. If you want to save on shipping costs, then you should choose floor-loaded freight. 

As we have already mentioned, floor-loaded freight can completely fill the trailer, container, or vehicle that it’s being transported in, whereas palletized freight cannot. That means with floor-loaded freight, you will be able to transport more freight with fewer shipments. 

You will also save money that you would normally have to spend on pallets if you were shipping palletized freight. While you will save money on pallets and shipping, you will be paying more labor costs. 

Floor-loaded freight is handled one package at a time by individual warehouse workers. This makes loading and unloading floor-loaded freight a much longer process. You also have to consider the amount of time it will take to load and unload large and unusual shipments like carpets, tires and other products. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Palletizing?

Palletizing has its unique advantages and disadvantages as well. Pallets add more security for packages when they’re shipped. The pallets serve as a base for the packages to be secured which prevents them from falling and suffering further damage.

Pallets give extra protection for ocean freight shipments by slightly elevating them above the ground. That way, if any water does manage to get into the cargo container your packages will be just out of reach from the water. 

Loading and unloading palletized freight is much less time-consuming and labor-intensive. Forklifts can efficiently lift and move palletized freight with ease. 

Every time a pallet is moved, multiple packages move along with it. This is much more efficient than loading and unloading one package at a time like with floor-loaded freight.  

The downside of using pallets is that they do not fill a cargo container or trailer as efficiently as floor-loaded freight. Despite being able to stack and secure multiple packages to its base, there will still be unused space in the container that transports them.

This means that you will be paying for empty space when you ship palletized freight. You will also be paying extra costs for the use of pallets. 

Floor Loading vs Palletizing: Which Should I Choose?

Forklift going to pick up box

There are trade-offs to both floor-loaded freight and palletized freight. The one that works best depends on how much time you have to ship and how much you're willing to spend on your shipments. 

If time is of the essence and you are willing to spend more, then palletized freight is the best way to go. Palletized freight will ultimately cost you more than floor-loaded freight to ship. That said, palletized freight will be loaded and unloaded much faster. 

Floor-loaded freight is a better option if time is more flexible for you. You will have to pay labor costs, but you won’t have to worry about making as many shipments if you're transporting numerous products as you would with palletized freight. 

However, floor-loaded freight will take longer to be loaded and unloaded. Floor load is also a great method to use if the products you are shipping are too small to be secured by a pallet. 

A Warning About Amazon and Floor Loaded Freight

Amazon FBA, or fulfillment by Amazon, is very particular about how freight arrives at their warehouses. They prefer that freight arrives at their warehouse palletized. 

While they will accept floor-loaded trailers, they have many rules as to how floor-loaded freight should be stacked. Not adhering to their guidelines could result in your shipment being refused. 

Ship With USA Truckload Shipping

Regardless of how you plan on shipping your freight, USA Truckload Shipping will get it there on time. We have numerous connections across the country that allow us to resolve any logistical challenges that face you and your shipment. 

We ship virtually all kinds of items that you would ever need to transport, whether they require floor loading or palletizing. On our freight services page, you will find all the different forms of shipping we cover. This includes HAZMAT and refrigerated among many other types of shipments.
At USA Truckload Shipping, our goal is to make sure that you are satisfied with the services that we provide. Contact our team today and we can help you on your shipping journey.

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