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The history and evolution of wood pallets

Since the 1940s, the pallet has played a significant role in modern material handling. Pallets, combined with the forklift, have had the greatest influence on the way materials are handled, stored and shipped. In the 1930s, a boxcar with 13,000 cases of canned goods would take about 3 days to completely unload; these same canned goods loaded onto pallets took a mere 4 hours to unload.

The arrival of the wood pallet The early 1920s saw the introduction of the first pallets and skids. Prior to this, wooden crates, boxes, kegs and barrels were generally used in order to gather, store, protect and move merchandise. Prior to today’s wooden pallets, skids, made up essentially of stringers attached to a top deck, appeared in American factories along with the first low lift trucks. The appearance of the forklift A rudimentary low lift hand truck first appeared in 1887; a sleeker, all-steel low lift truck emerged in 1909. The first high lifts fork trucks surfaced in 1915. The development and sophistication of forklifts helped to increase the quantity and the variety of materials that could be handled. By 1926, the basic idea of the modern forklift, made vertical stacking possible and greatly improved the efficiency of warehouse and storage facilities. From skids to the modern wood pallet Pallets also evolved with time and use. In order to facilitate the use of the forklifts, spacers were added in between loads, boards were then added on top of stringers to make skids. With time, boards were also secured to the bottom of the skids in order to create a pallet. It was not until 1925, when boards were attached to the bottom of these “pallets”, that the modern wood pallet was born. The addition of this bottom deck resulted in an improved weight distribution and a decrease in product damage, problems which were often encountered with the single level skid. Originally, narrow enough to make it through standards doorways, as warehouses were rebuilt, companies decided to design their buildings in order to accommodate a larger pallet size thus reducing the cost of labor.

Why pallets? The introduction of containers to ship products increased the use of pallets as a result of the ideal conditions which maximize the movement of pallets: clean, smooth, wide and level flooring. Pallets can carry loads of up to 1000 kg (over 2200 lbs) and make it easy to move weighty stacks using forklifts of varying sizes and even hand-pumped pallet jacks. Companies which load and unload cargo on wooden pallets are more efficient and reduce their costs associated to these tasks. Cantarero Pallets, Inc. is a fast growing, Illinois based family owned pallet manufacturer that offers heat treated pallets, custom pallets and just-in-time delivery, providing you with the wood pallets when you need them.

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