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Introduction to Pallets

by Martin Murray, About.com
      
Pallets make the logistics world go round. The pallet is found in almost every warehouse and without it the transportation of goods would be significantly harder, and much more costly. The wooden pallet, now joined by the metal and plastic pallet, will hold the raw materials that are used in manufacturing, the finished goods sold to customers, and then start all over again. There are estimated to be over two million pallets in circulation in the US and the cast majority of these are made from wood. As more companies look to reducing their environmental impact, the use of non-wood pallets is in the rise.
      
The pallet is the most common base for the unit load, which includes pallet and goods stacked atop it, typically secured by stretch wrap, strapping, shrink wrap, adhesive, pallet collar, or other means of unit load stabilization.

The history of
 pallets has shown their gradual development over the last century, helping enable the development of modern logistics. The importance of pallets to supply chain applications today has been significant, allowing dramatic efficiencies in the handling and transport of unit loads. Additional refinements were added to pallet design and management during World War 2. For example, pallet reuse in the supply chain became increasingly practiced. The pallet pooling concept began to be seriously discussed during this time and has evolved into a key strategy for pallet suppliers.
      
Pallets During World War Two

The
 modern pallet was shaped during the 1920's and 1930's, but it was the Second World War that made the pallet into the indispensable item it is today. The great depression had meant that there was a large number of workers wanting employment and companies had no need to mechanize their processes when there was abundant resources able to do the work at low cost. Even in the armed forces, most of the work of loading and unloading of items was performed by hand, and there were very few motorized machines in the army warehouses. Although manual labor was cheap, it did not make for much efficiency and material was poorly stored in the warehouses. In 1941, the Office of the Quartermaster General believed that the availability of labor would decrease and it saw the need to invest in material handling equipment and develop best practices for military warehouses. They believed that forklift trucks and pallets was the most efficient system available for handling subsistence supplies and implemented programs 
      
History of the Pallet

The pallet, in some form, has been used for several hundred years. It most likely originated as a flat platform that would allow items, such as kegs, to be stacked and moved with some stability. These evolved into "skids" which were wooden platforms, consisting of stringers or legs fastened to a top deck that allows goods to be moved from ships to the dock more quickly than by hand. The skid was used to stack material on top of and then dragged or pushed by dock workers. The
 pallet evolved over time after the first low lift hand trucks were introduced before end of the nineteenth century. These trucks could lift the skid a little way off the ground and therefore make moving goods far easier. As the development of the fork lift truck came into being in the earlier 1900's, the skid was improved to include spacers where the lift trucks could more easily raise the skid and then the bottom layer of the skid was introduced as the more familiar fork lift trucks were introduced in the 1920's. The modern pallet was developed alongside the forklift, so the bottom layer of the pallet was introduced to give better distribution of weight over the pallet when being raised. 
      
Pallet Material

Although the vast majority of pallets are made from wood, may companies are looking to develop pallets made from other materials such as plastic and wood. There are many reasons why this is occurring; shippers of food want their products to be free from insects and fungus which can grow on wood, the introduction of embedded RFID, the weight issues of wood, and the requirements of stronger materials needed to carry heavier loads. But so far the
 wooden pallet is still the material of choice and will be for the foreseeable future. 
      
Pallet Services Ltd | Phone: 046 9293412 caters for all your pallet requirements & offers superb quality & service. Based in Meath with nationwide delivery across Ireland.
      
      
      
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Pallet Services (Holdings) Ltd. Oristown, Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland        Phone: 046 9293412        Fax: 046 9293413        Email: info@palletservices.ie        Powered by: go2web