About Us


Pallet and unit load research has a long history at Virginia Tech. For more than four decades a cooperative arrangement has been in existence with the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association. That arrangement was solidified and made permanent in 1976 when the Association provided funds for the construction of the William H. Sardo, Jr. Pallet and Container Laboratory. Since then the center which is currently changed its name to Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design was involved in various research activities to move the design of packaging, pallet and unit load design to the 21st century.

The center always has been in the fore front of pallet and unit-load research. With industry and government support, Virginia Tech researchers have developed a reliability-based design and analysis methodology. The research results are packaged in the Pallet Design System (PDS) software that allows pallet producers and users to tailor pallets to specific applications. PDS currently one of the most widely used pallet design software with hundreds of users all over the world.

Since 2010 with the hire of new packaging experts, the center expanded it focus towards packaging design incorporating primary and secondary packaging to the existing pallet and unit-load focus. Currently, we are researching the interaction between packaging, pallet and material handling equipment which knowledge will provide a tool to design more sustainable packaging systems. We also have new research areas including biodegradable plastic container development and smart packaging.

The center always has been working in collaboration with the industry. Our industrial affiliate program was designed to develop technologies which will serve the needs to our members and will improve the life of the people in the Commonwealth and all over the world.

In addition to research, the Center for Unit Load Design at Virginia Tech offers contract testing for our member and non-member companies. Because we are the only laboratory in the US with facilities to evaluate all aspects of unit load and material handling design and efficiency we can provide a more comprehensive evaluation to our clients. Instead of just providing testing results or pass and fail information we are working with our clients to identify the weak points of their packaging system design and provide solution to eliminate the issues.

The center collected and developed a huge amount of information throughout the years on how to design more efficient packaging, pallet and unit load solutions. Therefore, the center is represented in various technical committees to build this information into the next generation of ASTM, ISO, and ANSI standards. We are also maintaining an online database called SLICK which contains everything that is worth to know about pallet and unit load design.

Brooks Center under construction.