The History and Evolution of Wooden Pallets
01 Jul 2015
The pallet has played a crucial role in the handling of various materials ever since it was first introduced during the early part of the twentieth century. Along with forklifts and container ships, pallets have revolutionised how modern materials are handled and transported.
The Initial Introduction of the Pallet
Before the wooden pallet became the more commonly used method for transporting goods, the majority of materials were moved using traditional boxcars. The biggest disadvantage to transporting goods this way was the inordinate amount of time it took to unload the boxcar. Often, a fully stocked car would take a full three days to unload – almost incomprehensible by today’s quick and efficient standards. In comparison, when wooden pallets first began to grow in popularity, a pallet carrying the same amount of goods took just four hours to unload. It’s a significant difference which dramatically changed the logistics business forever.
The Evolution of the Pallet
Since they were first introduced almost a century ago, pallets have evolved to meet new usage requirements and other societal movements. One of the most significant changes to pallet design was made to facilitate the use of forklifts. This involved the introduction of spacers between loads and the addition of boards on the top in order to create skids. With time, boards were eventually also added to the bottom of the skids, and thus the wooden pallet as we know it today was created. This important step in the evolutionary process of the pallet resulted in a huge improvement to overall weight distribution. Furthermore, instances of product damage, which were quite common when goods were stacked on a single-level skid, substantially decreased.
As wooden pallets became the norm within industry, further changes in design were continually being implemented. Initially, most pallets were made to fit through standard-width doors. However, many warehouses were soon redesigned in order to be able to accommodate pallets of a far greater size. These larger pallets meant that general labour costs were often much lower.
The Advantages of the Pallet
The benefits of using wooden pallets to ship goods are numerous, resulting in their becoming an integral logistics tool. A standard pallet can be loaded with a weight of up to one thousand kilograms. This makes the movement of such large numbers of products, utilising various sizes of forklift or even hand-pumped pallet jacks, a far easier process. With productivity and efficiency increased, businesses that utilise wooden pallets for their daily logistical requirements often see an increase in their profits.
From humble beginnings, the wooden pallet has evolved over the years to become an essential part of the logistical process within modern business. In fact, it is hard to imagine business life without them.