Know your pallets

Know your pallets

Back in the naughty 90s I had the dubious distinction of running a comedy club with some friends. The venue was the upstairs function room of a pub that had seen much better days (and comedy nights, probably). As well as sporting a sticky vinyl floor that sat uneasily next to a gratuitously loud carpet, there was no evidence of a stage to separate the line-up of ne-er do wells selected to perform from the motley crowd who were paying to see them. So how does this relate to pallets?

It was only when one of us had the bright idea of bringing in some pallets to fashion a makeshift stage that our project was ready to go. Those 3 square blocks might have provided a rudimentary platform for the performers, but they made the vital difference and fulfilled their requirements perfectly.

They might look like they’ve been cobbled together from bits of old wood but they’re an essential component of storage, packing and logistics. So let’s hear it for the humble pallet! Stage mishaps aside, they’re a familiar enough staple of the freight industry so it’s easy to overlook their invaluable contribution to businesses since they started being used in the modern sense way back in the 1920s.

Whether they’re two-way, four-way, stringer, block, open or close-boarded, reversible, wing, recycled or heat-treated, it’s time to sing their praises.

  • Pallets give a company the option to utilise air space as well as floor space, helping to reduce warehousing costs.
  • There are obvious benefits of handling goods mechanically via pallet storage, minimising the prospect of injury to personnel
  • Theft prospects are diminished when individual items are tied or wrapped to pallets in combined bonded loads.
  • Pallet-like structures have been used as bases for at least a few hundred years for requirements such as the safe stacking and stabilization of kegs. According to pallet experts (yes, they exist) they might have been used as long ago as the1st millennium BCE!
  • Single-face pallets have only one deck and are also referred to as Skids
  • A two-way pallet has solid bearers that prevent access from the sides of the pallet. A four-way pallet has bearers, or blocks, in each corner that enables access from either end or the sides of the pallet.
  • Stringer pallets are typically made of hardwood from deciduous trees whereas block pallets are usually made from softwood   (from coniferous trees)
  • Pallets can either be open or close-boarded. A close-boarded pallet is essential for carrying items with legs, such as tables or chairs.
  • A Stevedore Pallet is one designed for use on seaport shipping docks, normally of heavy-duty, double-wing construction.

So there we have it. The next time you look at the common pallet, bear in mind its illustrious history; and if you’ll excuse the pun, its across the board flexibility. 

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