Pallets are our inanimate best friends. They’re there when you need them, will
listen to you when you just need to vent, they are reliable, they won’t
suddenly change their personalities when they’re around other people, and you
share a rich history that dates back to when you were just toddlers. While the
last one might not be true, pallets do share a long history with humankind.
Before the advent of the pallet, companies used to package using wooden crates,
barrels, kegs, and, sadly, cardboard boxes. After the forklift was invented in
the early 1920s, pallets and trusty pallet couriers were elevated into the limelight of the delivery
world. Pallets were designed with the forklift in mind and in 1925 received a
boost when a bottom plank was added to the design, enabling stacking.
During WWII pallet usage spread significantly. Distribution between allied
countries led to the use of a standard 48 x 48 pallet. Such exposure made
businesses realise the impact of pallets, which in turn led to thousands of
companies to deem the pallet a business necessity.
In 1954 another breakthrough in the world of distribution made pallets an even
more obvious choice for shipping. The narrow aisle electric reach truck made
reaching from high to low even easier, leading businesses to narrow out their
warehouse aisles and stack vertically.
1968 was also a landmark year for pallets. The pallet was standardised further
when a number of Canadian grocery chains met in order to decide upon a pallet
to be used for interexchange. The 48 x 40 GPMC was born and is now the North
Today pallets are used far and wide, and businesses today can’t imagine how
life every could have been without them. Around 450 million pallets are
produced every year in North America with at least 1.9 billion currently in
Gone are the days when pallet design was specific to its business or product; materials
such as wood, plastic, metal, paper, and aluminium are now used to create
pallets, while 40 x 48 is the standard that will see your goods safely delivered on
just because they sit at the back of dusty warehouses doesn’t mean pallets
don’t have a long history of streamlining business – and there’s no better
friend than that.
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