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Lip service: Does size really matter?

Today, pallet lips come as standard on 95% of plastic pallets, in particular on medium and heavy duty types.

The benefit of having lips moulded into the pallet is that they enable multiple pallets to ‘locate’ when stacked together.  When empty, the lips interlock keeping the pallets in a neat, vertical stack. Moreover, the pallet lips provide added security to heavy loads placed on the pallet’s deck.

For these reasons, lips are recommended when purchasing plastic pallets.

Plastic pallets are now a fundamental part of today’s supply chain across all business sectors. As a result, there are a number of options to suit different application needs. These include pallets with various sized lips and even with no lips at all.

The majority of plastic pallets come with 6mm lips as standard, although in many cases these are optional. Changes to the size of the lips are made during the manufacturing process by adding or removing inserts into the mould. This is so a production run of pallets with or without lips can be made.

Plastic pallet expert and Managing Director of, Jim Hardisty, explains the benefits that these variations offer and how to make choosing the right pallet, much easier.




There are a range of benefits to having lips on a plastic pallet, one of which is safe handling when loading and transporting pallets around the warehouse. If the forklift driver is moving a stack of empty pallets, the lips will ensure each pallet locates and can be transported smoothly. In addition, plastic trays, crates or even cardboard boxes can be stacked safely on the pallet and up against the lip.

6mm pallet lips

Although, in most instances the product in question will likely be wrapped to the pallet, pallet lips offer additional  security, ensuring the product remains within the pallet footprint.

A pallet with the standard lip can be used in a multitude of industries, but is  highly  popular within  the  food  sector. This is because produce packed into plastic trays can move through the supply chain faster when sat on a pallet that has a lip.

However, there are some models of plastic pallets that do not always offer these options. For example, some lightweight nestable pallets are only available with or without pallet lips. These nestable pallets do not require lips to locate and stack, as they are designed to nest one inside another when empty. Equally being designed for lightweight consignments, product retention is not generally an issue.




Alternatively, there are other, less common options to suit specific applications and industry needs. For instance, the 22mm or 25mm pallet lip. These high pallet lips are popular within the automotive sector,

22mm pallet lip where the pallet is used to distribute and store parts in plastic totes or plastic boxes.

For example, if a company is shipping a pallet of product into a motor manufacturer, the parts will be packed into plastic boxes on a pallet with a high pallet lip and secured with a lid. The high lip offers additional safety because the pallet is being moved without additional wrapping. This is the same for the empty boxes on the return journey.

In fact, the empty boxes are normally stacked upside down to ensure both pallets and boxes stay clean. Doing this will stop them filling up with water (this is usually when a lid isn’t used in the first place), and makes it easy to identify which boxes are ready to be reused.




In contrast, there are applications where pallets without lips are preferred. For example, when a completely flat surface is needed. Any application where the product may overhang the footprint of the pallet will benefit from a pallet without lips. This is because the pallet lips could leave imprints in the products.


In this scenario, manufacturers of flat cardboard sheets would use a pallet without lips. This is because the size of the sheet may sometimes overhang. Furthermore, machines may also be used within the warehouse to push the sheets on or off of the pallet. When purchasing this kind of returnable packaging, the type of automation (or systems) used to load the pallets should be a consideration.

We previously sold thousands of pallets to a whisky distillery for storage of their finished product (packed into cases). Within this fully automated warehouse, a whole pallet load of cases is slid on and off of the pallet at a transfer station, so here the lips would get in the way.

Ultimately, the type of application is key. This will dictate what type of pallet and what size pallet lips, if any, are best suited for the job.


Whatever your needs, talk to our expert team to find out what the best solution is for you. Contact us on 01323 744057 for help choosing the right returnable, plastic packaging. With over 155 different types of pallets in stock, we’re sure to have the solution for you.