Small mobile platforms for loading at the ports of the 19th century, widely known as skids, are the ancestors of today’s pallets. Initially, lifting required empty spacing within the stacks and boards where used to increase protection and durability. With the introduction of cranes in 1887, rods were placed at the bottom of each platform, which gradually decreased significantly in size. In 1909, along with the invention of the forklift, the first ever pallet was created. Lifting and moving capacity in two and finally in 1919 in three axes gave the pallet its current form, offering multiple inputs and reversibility. However, it goes without saying that while the pallet has more than a century of life, its dominant role in worldwide transport relays to only the last fifty years.
In 1931, research commissioned by the American Railways showed that unloading a wagon full of 13,000 cans packed in bundles took as much as 3 days. According to the same survey, the use of pallets accelerated the process to just 4 hours. In addition, a pallet’s flat surface, acting itself as a platform, enabled the positioning of loads in multiple vertical planes. As a result, increasing storage height had the effect of reducing the total area necessary.
While many accounts of the pallet industry point to World War II as the era when it began, the foundation for pallets and palletized material handling had been set prior to the war. Because of abundant labour, lack of suitable warehouses and a shortage of capital to invest in the latest technology, pallets remained in infancy. With World War II and the US involvement, the emerging trend of palletisation was viewed as an important advantage in the War effort and it truly became a force into the world of logistic services.
With the advent of peace, factories and warehouses had already been adapted to the new methods of material handling. Nowadays, over one billion pallets are being produced globally while in the US alone the estimated circulation amounts to two billion, including used and recycled items, which after careful planning and the necessary standardization form pools for re-distribution, just as in our facility in Naousa.