The present paper addresses the determination of decision parameters in conceptualizing automated palletizing systems (APS). Conceptualizing is the process of developing an initial system design solution for a complex real-world material-handling problem. Such an initial solution is preliminary in nature and reflects the interaction between the problem environment (e.g. throughput needs, cost) and the material-handling system environment (e.g. equipment, operating system practices). The decision parameters for the concept are grouped in two categories: configuration options and operational strategies. In the system configuration stage, a system type is chosen among end-of-line, multi-fine and multi-line-with-sortation. The number and length of the accumulation lines and the number of palletizers are also determined in this stage. Operational strategies are listed with regard to assigning the accumulation lanes to the items, selection of a dispatching rule and the setting of conveyor speeds. An 'unbalanced conveyor model' is developed for carton dispatching rules as an analytical alternative to an existing balanced conveyor model and its results are verified by simulation. Two dispatching rules are compared based on cost performance.