The pallet was a before and after in the world of transport. Nothing has been the same since the faithful ally of -usually- wood made an appearance about a century ago. Although many pay more attention to it as a decoration element, the truth is that the transport of pallets is a key element for companies as we know them today. Let’s review what his story has been.
History of pallet transport
The background of the transport of pallets
Although we have already said that the pallet was born nearly a century ago, it was not then the first time that wood collaborated with the movement of merchandise. We have to go back to the first millennium BC to find the first indications of the use of wooden skates and sledges across the sands of Egypt.
Humanity continued to experiment in its quest to make the movement of goods easier, but it took many years before these advances were significant. It seemed to sense that something was missing, but the key was not completely found.
The birth of pallet transport
For the expansion of the pallet it was essential to have allies: bulls and forklifts. These inventions took place in the 20s of the last century, and they were going to be the ones that would allow the pallets, once loaded with merchandise, to be able to move easily. In 1924, Howard. T Hallowell was the first to file a patent for pallets. The race had started.
The pallets and the war
Logistics is going to be given great importance in almost any manual on warfare. Keeping armies well equipped and fed has been an increasingly pressing need, and during World War II it became especially noticeable. The use of pallets reached such a point of importance that, for example, the allied side agreed on standardized measurements for their pallets, in order to be able to better collaborate with each other. Using the same types of pallets accelerated transits, unified criteria, and facilitated shipments by sea and across borders.
The development of the pallets
It was clear that the pallet had come to stay. That is why the improvements happened quickly, especially when we take into account that at first glance it seems like a tool with little development capacity. In 1945, Robert Braun invented the four-way pallet. In other words, a pallet that the forklift can access from any of the four sides of its base. This allowed more ease when handling it and options when loading it into vehicles.
Europe had its own way of advancing in the world of the pallet, and the result of this was what we know today as the euro-pallet. This was born during the 60s and managed to standardize both the quality and the size that these types of pallets had to have. The original design of the euro-pallet established measurements of 1200 x 800 x 144 mm, the number of boards and even the number of nails to be used in its assembly (78). In 1991 the European Pallet Association (EPAL) was born, which to this day is still responsible for issuing licenses to manufacturers that meet its technical requirements. It is very possible that you have seen his seal on many pallets.
Pallet transport today
It may be striking that with the continuous advances in materials that the business world has experienced, the wooden pallet continues to be the undisputed king. However, pallets made of other materials such as cardboard, plastic or iron continue to find their segments and niches where they can provide differential qualities. Plastic can be more resistant to pests, metal can be harder to withstand certain weights or conditions, cardboard can be easier to recycle or cheaper when looking for a use with a short expiration date, etc.
The pallet is so ubiquitous that its mere existence has given rise to the creation of companies and businesses around it. Thus, today it is easy to find companies that are dedicated to the sale, purchase, exchange, repair or recycling of used pallets. Or companies that manage the pallet needs of other companies through rental or pool systems.