The average person wouldn’t know much about Wooden pallets if you asked them. These unassuming wooden structures are like many unsung heroes in the modern world. Wooden pallets not only allow us to transport goods around the globe but also make it possible to store them safely. They are the foundation of every factory, workshop, and supplier on the planet. But where did the history of wooden pallets begin? And what is their importance in today’s world?
Early wooden pallets 1920-1930
The history of the wooden palette begins with the predecessor, the “Skid”. Skids were simple wooden surfaces that goods could be placed on or moved along. Skids can be traced back to ancient times, with evidence of their existence as far back as the Egyptians.
The forklift truck was the first to introduce pallets as we know them today. Skids were gradually adapted to the new forklift truck in 1915. Howard T. Hallowell, a man who called it the “Lift Truck Platform”, is the first to patent a pallet.
Pallet development and use during World War 2
The history of the wood pallet is like many technological innovations. It all started with WWII when pallet demand skyrocketed. The four-way pallet was created during this period. The Allied and US military used pallets to transport weapons and armaments efficiently as fast as possible.
As often happens in wartime, inventions were made quickly and patents weren’t filed until after the war was over. After the war, there was a surge in patents for all kinds of things, including wooden pallets. Robert Braun, who in 1945 was the inventor of the first four-way wooden pallet, and Norman Cahners, the inventor of a disposable pallet, were the ones to patent.
Modern trade is reliant on pallets. Businesses would struggle to store and transport goods safely and efficiently without pallets. Wooden pallets of today still look like the original four-way and two-way designs. This makes them ideal for use with forklift trucks. Nowadays, plastic pallets are more common and can be used for transporting food or other items. You will also see pallets that have been heat-treated to improve hygiene.
The history of the wooden pallet begins around 100 years ago. It is an interesting story. Look around your home and you will see that almost every piece of furniture and every food item on your shelves have been moved at one time or another by these simple wooden pallets. This sturdy construction has stood the test of time and is unlikely to be replaced anytime soon.
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