Although we may not realise it, we see pallets almost everywhere we go; inside and outside of the supermarkets, corner shops and so on. Basically, we see them in practically every place that relies, to some extent, on product delivery and storage.
A pallet delivery company is not the only one that makes use of pallets. One can use them to either display or store items and such, as well as using them to transport goods from far and wide. Therefore, even though it doesn't seem like it, these items are quite fascinating and pallet history is definitely worth talking about.
So, in this article, we'll be doing just that. We will introduce you to pallet history at its finest!
From Skids To Pallets
Before skids evolved into pallets, a variety of other recipients (so to say) were used to transport items, for example, wooden crates, barrels, kegs, boxes and lastly, skids.
However, in the early 20's when the modern forklift was invented, the skids evolved into pallets. The concept behind a pallet was to have an area for the products to sit on as well as an area underneath the pallet itself that could accommodate and facilitate the use of a forklift.
With this in mind, boards were fastened to stringers, thus creating both the product platform as well as the space meant for the forklift's prongs.
After a couple of years, in 1925, bottom planks were added to the initial design. These extra planks made stacking possible, and as a result, products were stacked, stored and moved with increased versatility and speed.
Who Invented The Pallet?
Pallets as we know them today were never referred to as 'pallets' back when they first evolved. Instead their inventor, Howard T. Hallowell called them 'lift truck platforms' as he designed them for the sole purpose of having an area for the products to sit on.
Hallowell, who invented the pallet, also wanted to make sure there was an area underneath the pallet to accommodate the use of a forklift - which made for easier transport of heavier goods.
Pallets During The War
During the 40's, the 4-way entry for pallets was developed and increased forklift accessibility. At the same time, people were experimenting with alternative material pallets.
As expected, the demand and popularity of pallets increased during WW2; they had to be mass produced in order to deliver the necessary goods to the battlefield or such. This demand also brought the need for a standard pallet size (48 x 48 at the time) that was established between allied countries, making it easier to ship and transport the pallets.
However, pallets and forklifts did not become popular because of their demand in the war. Apparently, pallets were used by thousands of small to medium-sized businesses in North America and in 1941, there were roughly 25,000 forklift trucks used in the USA.
A Pallet World Through The Changes
Back in 1954, a British company named 'Lansing Bagnall' developed what is currently known as the first narrow aisle electric reach truck. This changed the warehouses' design, which features narrow aisles as well as higher load stacking, thus increasing storage capacity.
To better optimise the conversion from rail to truck transport, pallet size was switched from the 40'' x 48'' stringer pallet to the 48'' x 40'' pallet.
Then in 1968, a meeting between the distribution managers of several Canadian grocery companies took place, resulting in the birth of the GPMC pallet. This was a 48 x 40 four-way entry wood pallet, or a standard pallet for interchange. This completely changed the pallet world as people knew it!
How's The Pallet Indsutry Doing Today?
After talking about pallet history and learning who invented the pallet and how much our country has relied and still does rely on pallet distribution, we can only talk about what the pallet industry is like today.
There are roughly around 500 million pallets produced in North America, with a further 55 million pallets manufactured right here in the UK each year.
The UK is even said to make and use more pallet types than any other European country. So, if there's one thing for certain it's that a pallet courier will never be short on pallets!
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