Logistics are a massive part of the beer brewing business.
Get a grip on your shipping needs.
While a successful brewery starts with good beer, no brewery would be able to stay on top without determining the most efficient way to ship their product for distribution. With this guide, you can gain an understanding of some of the basics when it comes to beer and logistics.
How Many Pallets Will I Need?
Pallets are the most common way of shipping goods, including beer. So, to get started, you will need to determine how many pallets you need for a shipment. A standard-sized pallet is 48 by 40 inches, so typically, when a freight carrier discusses how many pallets constitute a "full load," this is the size to which they are referring.
So, let’s determine the number of pallets needed for your shipment. We will discuss shipping multiple sizes of kegs, as well as beer cans and bottles.
Here is a guideline to how many kegs you can fit on a standard 48x40 pallet:
- 1/6 bbl – 20 per pallet
- 1/4 bbl – 14 per pallet
- 1/2 bbl – 8 per pallet
A pallet stacked with full kegs weighs approximately 1,200 – 1,400 pounds. Pallets can only be stacked two-high because the pallet on the bottom can only hold so much weight.
So, for example, if you need to ship 70 1/4-barrel kegs, you will need five pallets, and the total weight will be approximately 6,000 - 7,000 pounds. The volume would be 2x2 stacked pallets, and then one un-stacked pallet.
Additionally, you must factor in the shipping costs of returning the empty kegs, if applicable. The approximate weight of empty kegs are as follows:
- 1/2 bbl keg – 30lbs.
- 1/4 bbl keg – 22lbs.
- 1/6 bbl keg – 16lbs.
Bottles and Cans
A 12-pack of 12-ounce beer cans weighs about 20 pounds. Beer cans are prone to shifting during transport, so it is imperative not to overstack the cases. Most breweries limit a pallet to approximately 100 cases of beer, or about 2,200 pounds.
When figuring out the total weight of your freight, you must also remember to include the weight of the pallets themselves. “A lot of people forget to add the pallet weight to it,” says Sean Higgins, Production Manager at Sea Dog Brewing Company. “If we send a full truckload, it can have up to 44 pallets, and with 20-25 pound pallets, you can be overweight.” Be sure to measure an empty pallet to get an accurate weight to include in your freight calculations.
What Type of Pallets Should I Use?
Wood pallets used to be the standard due to their low cost. However, plastic pallets are gaining popularity due to their durability. Plastic pallets can also reduce your freight costs, as they are lighter than wood pallets. Not to mention, lighter and sturdier pallets will also make life easier for your warehouse staff. As Higgins from Sea Dog Brewing states, "With wood pallets, if [kegs] are not centered properly, the wood pallets will break. You’ll add more time to your day, more aggravation. It can happen in transit and cause damage to trucks as well.”
Plastic pallets are also preferable in food-service settings as they are nonporous, so they do not absorb liquids that may spill and are not a hospitable environment for mold and mildew to grow. Plus, the smooth sides of plastic pallets are less likely to cause damage to the packaging.
Many pallets even come equipped with features that can expedite the loading and unloading processes and protect your beer in transit. Some of these features include interlocking feet, tie-down points, and solid tops that evenly distribute weight.
How Far in Advance Should I Order Pallets?
With so many types of pallets to choose from, it’s best to order them well before you need to send your product out. This will give you time to determine how much product you can fit on a pallet, how high the pallets can be stacked, and exactly how much a pallet loaded with your product weighs. It will also give you time to determine if perhaps a different type of pallet would be better suited for your needs than a standard size. So, like anything in life, the more time you give yourself to plan, the better. Luckily, because there are hundreds of types of plastic pallets in different sizes and with various features, there is sure to be a type of pallet that will work for your needs.