Posted by admin on Sep 29, 2010 in Today | 1 comment

WHAT IS A PALLET?

WHAT IS A PALLET?

A pallet (pronounced /ˈpælɨt/) (sometimes called a skid) is a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader or other jacking device. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap and shipped.
While most pallets are wooden, pallets also are made of plastic, metal, and paper. Each material has advantages and disadvantages relative to the others. (See the sections “Phytosanitary compliance” and “Materials used” below.)
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Overview
Containerization for transport has spurred the use of pallets because the shipping containers have the clean, level surfaces needed for easy pallet movement. Most pallets can easily carry a load of 1,000 kg (2,205 lb). Today, over half a billion pallets are made each year and about two billion pallets are in use across the United States alone.
Pallets make it easier to move heavy stacks. Loads with pallets under them can be hauled by forklift trucks of different sizes, or even by hand-pumped and hand-drawn pallet jacks. Movement is easy on a wide, strong, flat floor: concrete is excellent. A forklift truck can cost the same as a luxury automobile, but a good reconditioned hand-drawn pallet jack costs only a few hundred dollars. The greatest investment is thus in the construction of commercial or industrial buildings where the use of pallets could be economical. Passage through doors and buildings must be possible. To help this issue, some later pallet standards (the europallet and the U.S. Military 35 × 45.5 in/889 × 1,156 mm) are designed to pass through standard doorways.
Organizations using standard pallets for loading and unloading can have much lower costs for handling and storage, with faster material movement than businesses that do not. The exceptions are establishments that move small items such as jewelry or large items such as cars. But even they can be improved. For instance, the distributors of costume jewelry normally use pallets in their warehouses and car manufacturers use pallets to move components and spare parts.
The lack of a single international standard for pallets causes substantial continuing expense in international trade. A single standard is difficult because of the wide variety of needs a standard pallet would have to satisfy: passing doorways, fitting in standard containers, and bringing low labor costs. For example, organizations already handling large pallets often see no reason to pay the higher handling cost of using smaller pallets that can fit through doors.
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Development of commercial transport packaging
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Development of commercial transport packaging
Pallets stacked for loading onto barges in North London
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Skids and pallets were slowly introduced throughout the early 20th century; wooden boxes, crates, barrels and kegs were much more commonly used to unitize, protect, store and transport goods. The predecessor of the modern wooden pallet was a simple skid that consisted only of stringers fastened to a top deck. It first appeared in American factories in conjunction with the low lift truck. A crude low lift hand truck was invented in 1887 and a more durable, all-steel low lift truck design was introduced in 1909.
The high lift fork truck first appeared in 1915. With further modification in 1919, the truck could lift loads several feet high while other improvements included cantilever design and forks. The emergence of forks as well during the same period enabled lift trucks to handle a much greater range of materials.
Another development was the new capability of the mast of the fork lift to tilt both forward and back, independent of the lifting mechanism. These developments, along with the emergence of the double-faced pallet during the same time period, allowed for tiering of unit loads. As early as 1926, the essence of the modern lift truck had been developed. Now, pallets no longer were simply a means of moving materials within the plant. High lift trucks made possible vertical stacking of unit loads and a resulting dramatic improvement of warehouse and plant storage efficiencies.
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Pallet development
The pallet was developed in stages. Spacers were used between loads to allow fork entry, progressing to the placement of boards atop stringers to make skids. Eventually boards were fastened to the bottom to create the pallet. The addition of bottom boards on the skid, which appeared by 1925, resulted in the modern form of the pallet. With the bottom deck, several problems common to the single faced skid were addressed. For example, the bottom boards provided better weight distribution and reduced product damage; they also provided better stacking strength and rigidity. Lift truck manufacturers promoted the idea of using more vertical area of a plant for stock storage.
In size, skids started narrow in order to pass through ordinary doors. As facilities were rebuilt, many organizations optimized their buildings for larger pallets in order to reduce labor costs.
The earliest referenced U.S. patent on a skid is Howard T. Hallowell’s 1924 “Lift Truck Platform.”(For more on Hallowell’s impact on industry, see Hex key.) In 1939, Carl Clark patented a recognizably modern pallet, although with steel stringers. In World War II, palleted material handling was rapidly perfected in order to transfer Allied war materials. The patent activity picked up again after the war, as inventors claimed items they improvised for the war effort. The first four direction pallet was claimed in 1945 by Robert Braun. At the end of 1948, Sullivan Stemple claimed the basic idea of a pallet designed to be used with a fork lift; the pallet was to be stamped from steel. During World War II, to reduce the resupply time of warships, the first modern disposable four-way block pallet was developed, and patented in early 1949 by Norman Cahners, a U.S. Navy Supply Officer in the ordnance depot at Hingham, Massachusetts. The first completely modern 2-direction stringer pallet was described in 1949 by Darling Graeme.
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Effect on rail transport
Pallets and forklifts also provided much quicker turnaround of boxcars and ships. In 1931, it took three days to unload a boxcar containing 13,000 cases of unpalletized canned goods. When the same amount of goods was loaded into the railway trucks on pallets or skids, the task took only four hours.
With the entry of the U.S. into World War II, the urgency for material-handling reform changed almost overnight. Palletization was regarded as an enormous opportunity to help the U.S. armed forces do more with less. Palletized loads could handle more goods with fewer people, freeing up men for military duty; it also could increase warehouse storage capacity and throughput, reducing the need for additional warehouse capacity. Pallets were used somewhat in the European theater, and were put to work extensively in the Pacific.
Standardization and regulation
Dimensions
In a pallet measurement the first number is the stringer length and the second is the deckboard length. Square or nearly-square pallets help a load resist tipping.
Two-way pallets are designed to be lifted by the deckboards. In a warehouse the deckboard side faces the corridor. For optimal cubage in a warehouse, the deckboard dimension should be the shorter. This also helps the deckboards be more rigid.
Four-way pallets, or pallets for heavy loads, or general-purpose systems that might have heavy loads are best lifted by their more rigid stringers. A warehouse has the stringer side facing the corridor. For optimal cubage in a warehouse, the stringer dimension should be the shorter.
Pallet users want pallets to easily pass through buildings, stack and fit in racks, forklifts, pallet jacks and automated warehouses. To avoid shipping air, pallets should also pack tightly inside intermodal containers and vans.
No universally accepted standards for pallet dimensions exist. Companies and organizations utilize hundreds of different pallet sizes around the globe. While no single dimensional standard governs pallet production, a few different sizes are widely used.



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