Which Choice is best for Your Business: Plywood Box vs Pallet Crates?

What is wrong with a plywood box for shipping/storing items? Nothing! What is wrong with pallet crates for shipping/storing? Again nothing! Both options can easily help to protect your products during shipping and storing. Both options can be used to help you safely transport your goods but both options are not best in every situation.

Your shipping and storing needs should be fulfilled by the container system that is the best option for your specific needs. In other words just because you have always used one option or the other it does not mean that you are using the best option for your needs today.

A plywood box and pallet crates have their benefits and a few down sides. Examining both the pros and the cons of utilizing these container options can help you to make an informed decision about what is best for your organization.

The Plywood Box

plywood boxThe plywood box can be an effective shipping method for fragile items like items made of glass or lightweight items that need a little extra protection. The size of these types of boxes vary and they can be bought in bulk and assembled at the warehouse. They can also be purchased premade.

If you are using or are consider using a plywood box storage/shipping system than do be sure that you are purchasing these boxes from a manufacturer that is within the ISPM 15 guidelines or you may not be able to use the boxes for overseas export.

As of this writing the following countries have adopted regulations for the standardization of the ISPM 15 rules, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, European Union, Guatemala, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, and Turkey. If you are shipping from the USA to Canada then the ISPM 15 guidelines do not apply.

Check with the manufacturer before purchases to ensure that all of the necessary treatment requirements have been met. One of the biggest benefits of these types of containers is that they are very durable and can hold a great deal of weight. They are often used to protect fragile equipment, parts and goods.

Shipping/Storage with Plywood Boxes

For shipping purposes the plywood box can offer a great deal of security that is not available with other options. They are difficult to get in too. The risk of unauthorized access is greatly reduced because the box has to be pried open.

Using a plywood box for shipping can help to reduce the losses that are experienced when an unauthorized person is able to break into the shipment. They are often used in different types of mechanical plants to hold parts and equipment because they are durable.

Plywood boxes can be stacked one on top of the other however their weight loads will vary depending on the size of the box.  You can order these types of boxes in a full spectrum of sizes BUT one of the biggest draw backs is once you order the size and have the box on property there is no way to customize the size any further.

Cons of Plywood Boxes

If you choose to have plywood boxes made to order for your products, tools or equipment you are stuck with the boxes the way they are, you cannot adjust the size.  If you choose to build the boxes on site you will have to dedicate precious manpower hours to the building.

Of course building the boxes on your own may save a few dollars per box but that savings will be eaten up by the amount of manpower that has to be dedicated to putting the boxes together.

There is also a greater risk of injury because tools are required to put together the boxes if you choose to do so on site. Storage of empty boxes can also be a challenge. You will have to take up coveted real estate in your warehouse to store these types of containers or have to break them down and put them back together to use again which consumes more manpower.

The boxes can be put together with a screw driver but they still require the attention of someone that has the knowledge to put them together and human error is always a potential risk.

The Cost of Plywood Boxes

The cost of plywood boxes may or may not be justified. They do provide security that other containers cannot and they are the ideal vessel for storing or shipping heavy parts and goods. They are secure, durable options for storage at this price but for shipping a high volume of goods the cost may become prohibitive.

Pallet Crates

pallet cratePallet crates are a little more flexible when it comes to customizing the size. There are three different kinds of crates. The collapsible pallet crate, the fixed pallet crate and the more customizable pallet collars that are used to create a pallet crate.  

All three options start with the same base. The pallet base is favored in many industries because it makes for easy movement of goods with a fork lift or a pallet jack. There are Two-way pallets with forklift openings on only two ends that are often called “unnotched pallets”.

There are partial four-way pallets that have forklift openings on two ends and smaller openings on the other two ends and there are four-way entry pallets that offer forklift accessibility on all four sides.

The crate part (enclosure) can be constructed from the same material as the base. The walls of the enclosure can be hinged (collapsible) for easy assembly and disassembly or they can be stationary (fixed). Stationary walls are harder to maneuver and do not have the same storage capabilities as the collapsible types.

Pallet collars are portable, foldable hinged sections of wall that can be added and removed as needed.

Shipping/Storage with Pallet Crates

Pallet crates are actually the preferred method of shipping and storing for many industries because they are reusable (as are plywood boxes) and modifiable. They also are great for storage purposes. Pallet crates are made to be stacked together so you can take advantage of vertical storage.

They are easy to move with pallet jacks or fork lifts because they are created to be moved with fork lifts and pallet jacks. Crates that are crafted from wood are governed by the same ISPM 15 guidelines as any wood packaging material. Of course you can always choose pallet crates that are made of metal or plastic (metal is a much higher cost) to avoid the concern of being ISPM 15 compliant.

One of the biggest benefits of using pallet crates especially with pallet collars is their flexibility when it comes to storage options because they are height adjustable there is no wasted space in the crate. They also store a lot easier than other container options.

Pallet crates can be stacked out of the way in a much smaller space than plywood boxes especially if you choose collapsible walls or pallet collars. Both options fold flat for easy storage.

The Cons of Pallet Crates

Pallet crates are secure but they are not as secure as a plywood box. They can be tampered with by unauthorized persons which can increase the risk of theft. You are required to follow the ISPM 15 regulations if you ship to any of the countries that have instituted regulations if you choose wooden pallet crates (which are the most economical).

The Cost of Pallet Crates

The cost of pallet crates like the cost of plywood boxes will vary according to the size, material and the vendor. The type of pallet i.e.; two way, four way etc. will also play a role in how much you pay for your pallets.

Unlike plywood boxes where you pay for the entire box, pallet crates are sold from the pallet up. In other words you purchase the pallet and then you purchase any walls or wraps for an additional cost.


Each option has its own set of benefits. Both options are optimal for different circumstances. For heavy weight goods or goods that need additional protection the plywood boxes offer the best option. For storage and customization options the pallet crates offer the best options. 

Ultimately the type of materials that your organization is handling should be the driving force behind your choice of container.


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