Lateral collapse potential of wood pallets

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Lateral collapse is a failure mode of wood pallets which most frequently occurs during transportation and handling. The study objective was to develop a simplified procedure for making relative comparisons in the lateral collapse potential of competing pallet designs.

A theoretical model was developed to predict the maximum horizontal force a pallet can sustain. A simple equilibrium of forces approach including joint rigidity was used. A lateral load test machine was built which induces and measures the amount of horizontal force required to collapse a pallet. After testing, the model was shown to be accurate when no upper deckboard bending occurred and inaccurate when bending occurred.

To account for bending, two multiple regression equations were developed to predict modification factors using a matrix structural analysis program. predicts K-factors for two stringer A closed form solution designs. These K-factors are used to modify the resisting moments generated by the fastened joints. The modified model was shown to slightly overpredict maximum collapse load but did accurately discern differences in relative lateral collapse potential.

The ratio of the maximum horizontal load to the vertical load on the pallet provides a means of ranking the potential for lateral collapse. Those designs whose ratios fall between 0.0 and 0.6 are at high risk, from 0.6 but less then 1.0 are at medium risk, and from 1.0 to infinity are at low risk of lateral collapse. These ratios have been calibrated against documented cases of lateral collapse. The factors that influence the lateral collapse potential of a design are stringer aspect ratio, joint characteristics, unit load, and upper deck flexural rigidity.