About the Pallet Design System™

Software for Wood Packaging Engineers, Designers and End-users

The Pallet Design System™ (PDS) is the world’s premier analysis, design and marketing tool. PDS is available exclusively from the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA).

PDS is backed by over 40 years of cutting-edge research and development performed in collaboration with Virginia Tech and the U.S. Forest Service.  Since its introduction in 1984, PDS has developed a highly respected reputation throughout the material handling industry.

Each new version of PDS incorporates the latest data, engineering, and technologies which result from NWPCA’s continuous program of research and development. Millions of dollars have been expended on PDS, not only for software development, but on research toward increased understanding of the relationships between the design and performance of wood pallets and the entire unit load.

In addition, PDS licensees are now certified under the USDA’s BioPreferred® program and can put the USDA Certified Biobased label on your product.

We’ve been able to verify the Pallet Design System™ meets the strict requirements of the USDA program and allows all of NWPCA’s PDS-using membership into the program.” – Kate Lewis, Deputy Program Manager, USDA, BioPreferred Program

A Product Specification Tool

PDS leads Users through the complete specification of the pallet type, size, and style, from dimensions and arrangement of all components to all the materials used to construct the pallet. This includes wood species, recycled components, types and sizes of nails and staples that are required in any pallet design. PDS then creates a pallet specification sheet, fully-dimensioned 2-D drawings with Top, Bottom, Side, and End Views, and 3-D drawings. The PDS Unit Load Specification and Drawings provides complete details on the unit load, including 2-D and 3-D drawings, plus drawings revealing the interface of the containers and pallet deck.

An Engineering Design Tool

If a structural, durability, or physical properties analysis is desired for the pallet, PDS leads Users through a series of questions about the intended conditions of use. Loads to be placed on the pallet, either uniformly distributed or concentrated, can be indicated. The engineering in PDS enables Users to quickly and accurately determine pallet performance under the intended conditions of use without time-consuming and expensive testing or trial and error. Comparisons in performance are easily made between different pallet designs, wood species or grades, fasteners, and component dimensions. The PDS structural analysis and safe load estimates reduce concerns over human health and safety, and reduce or eliminate product damage which can result from inadequate pallet strength, stiffness, or durability.

A Professional Marketing Tool

Since October, 2016, the NWPCA received official notification from the USDA that they had been approved for the USDA BioPreferred® program and met important criteria, allowing use of the biobased label for all PDS licensees. Now, manufacturers that license PDS are listed in the USDA BioPreferred Catalog to help federal purchasers and their contractors identify biobased products. This official USDA Certified Biobased product label has been specifically designed to empower consumers and purchasing contractors to readily identify products with verified biobased content. PDS users can proudly use the label:

  • in product literature, for a certified product or package
  • on a website to identify a certified product of package
  • in advertisements where it is used next to or on a certified product or package
  • in promotional and educational outreach materials; electronic media
  • in collateral materials.

In addition, all the documentation produced with PDS make very impressive and useful presentations to customers. All PDS materials clearly display the company name, address and other contact information for both the PDS provider and the customer. Any special or custom notes you wish to add can be displayed on the pallet specification sheet. To make PDS even more effective as a marketing tool, guides to the PDS specification and analysis are created as customer hand-outs.

The built-in (electronic) User’s Guide in PDS is a wealth of information. The User’s Guide not only explains how to use the PDS software, it contains extensive information on pallet design, construction, and performance. Any part of the User’s Guide can be printed for reference or to provide customers who have a question about some aspect of PDS or wood pallets.

Integration With Loadsync™ & Fastenersync™


LoadSync™ is a no-cost software solution that enhances the communication of pallet and unit load design information between the wood pallet manufacturers and their customers. This program allows end-users to define their entire pallet and unit load handling requirements, save the information to a data file and then email the file to their pallet manufacturer. The pallet manufacturer opens the file, and can then design an efficient and cost-effective pallet that meets all their customer’s specifications. Once a pallet is designed, a “viewer” file is created, containing all the information of the complete pallet specification, and the file is shareable by both the manufacturer and the customer.

FastenerSync™ is also a no-cost software solution that demonstrates the performance of fasteners (nails, staples) in a pallet connection. FastenerSync™ takes the specifications of a fastener (type, length, diameter, etc) and wood (species, moisture content, board thickness) and predicts the strength of a pallet connection. The withdrawal resistance is computed and lateral (or shear) resistance of the fastener gives an apples to apples comparison between two fasteners, and indicates which could lead to improved pallet performance. The documentation produced by FastenerSync™ is clear and professional, and computes all the characteristics required to compare to the minimum fastener requirements in the NWPCA Uniform Standard for Wood Pallets.

Adding to the Bottom Line

The Pallet Design System™ enables wood pallet manufacturers to assist their customers in:

  • significantly reducing costs
  • significantly reducing product damage
  • significantly increasing safety throughout the unit load handling system

Learn more about the Pallet Design System™ or contact NWPCA at 703-519-6104 if you have additional questions.