Wood pallets are one of the most important logistics tools ever invented. Pallets are relatively cheap. Typically, a standard-sized pallet of 48″ x 40″ is sold for $11 to about $12.50 each. These wonderful, inexpensive tools are something that every supply chain around the world depends on.
Approximately 2 billion pallets are in circulation at any given time. Just about every industry on the planet relies on pallets in their supply chain. Who imagined that a few boards strung together would be so heavily relied upon to transfer, store, and ship goods around the globe?
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention
The idea of using a wooden platform to store and transport goods dates back to ancient Egyptian times. While a pallet is similar to a wooden platform, it has certain traits that make it very different and much stronger. Back in 1925, Howard T Hallowell is credited with patenting the modern-day skid pallet. He called it the “lift truck platform”. While Mr. Hallowell was the patent holder of this new fangled platform, it was the American military that made the pallet popular.
During World War II soldiers struggled with getting supplies. The supplies were arriving on the front lines, but they were not arriving in good condition. An easier, more protective, and more efficient method of transportation was needed. Since WWII, skid pallets have been adopted as the standard method of shipping, storing, and today even in displaying goods in retail locations. Mr. Hallowell would be surprised to learn how much of an impact he has had on the global supply chain.
What Makes a Pallet So Strong
Skid pallets can hold up to 4,500 pounds. The positioning of the stringers and other parts gives the pallet strength and durability to stand up to the toughest weight loads. The original design was well thought out and engineered to distribute and hold a tremendous amount of weight without buckling. The design has not changed over the last 100 years.
The lowly pallet has changed how the world manages its supply chains and logistics. Everything from warehouse design to delivery entrances are designed around the pallet.