The wood pallet plays an integral part in the shipping and storage industry. You see it everywhere, from retail stores to workshops to even home interiors. But where did the idea of a pallet come from?

The Skid

Before pallets were created, people used skids. These were simple wooden surfaces that looked like pallets, except that skids don’t have bottom decks. 

According to archeological evidence, Egyptians and Mesopotamians were using skids as early as the 1st millennium BC to lug heavy stuff. Because these had no bottom decks that caused friction, they were quite easy to drag around, which is why the ancients, lacking modern tech know-how, favored them.

Emergence of the Wood Pallet

The skids were quite popular right until 1925. You see, in 1915, the forklift truck was invented. And it wasn’t until ten years later that a man named Howard T. Hallowell thought of adapting the current skids to this modern machine. He fixed bottom planks to the skids to make loading and stacking goods much easier and faster. 

Howell filed a patent for this invention and called it the “Lift Truck Platform.” It caught on, and soon, almost every warehouse around the world began relying on these wooden constructions as the number of lift trucks began to grow. 

The Second World War

Like other inventions, the wood pallet had gone through significant developments. You can say that its history is much-influenced by World War II. During the war, the US and Allied Forces needed to transport their armaments quickly and efficiently. Improvements to the pallets were created to make this possible, resulting in the creation of four-way and disposable pallets.

Pallet Standards

The pallets back then came in a variety of designs and sizes, depending on the manufacturer. This resulted in higher labor costs as well as many delays in transporting the goods. Fortunately, trade associations came up with creating standard pallet sizes across different industries. Some of these are now also recognized internationally.

Guidelines were also set in place regarding specific build, weight, load capacity, and other characteristics these standardized pallets should have. Along with that were specific treatments that pallets needed to undergo to make shipping domestically and internationally safer. 

Modern Pallets

The creation of wooden pallets have made a huge impact on the way we store and ship goods. Without them, we would not be able to effectively, quickly, and inexpensively transport products across the US and the world. The wooden constructions have proven that they can withstand the test of the modern world, and it looks like they won’t be replaced any time soon.

Need help with your next wooden pallet or crate project? Give us a call at (303) 660-0084, and our pallet experts will point you in the right direction.