7 Fun and Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Pallets

Pallets are used in various industries as a flat transport structure for storing and moving goods safely when being transferred by a forklift or crane. They’re found in warehouses, shipping containers, airports and even used to make furniture! They provide a stable and strong base for goods, large containers and air cargo. 

Pallets are made from different materials with wood being the most common type. But, you can get plastic, steel or even paper pallets. Pallets can be wrapped to keep goods secure during transit. A specially designed pallet wrapping machine comes in various designs which can be fully automatic, include weighing scales and have multiple programmes.  

What other fun and interesting facts do you need to know about this simple but useful structure known as the pallet? Read on to find out!

7 Fun and Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Pallets

1. The Wooden Pallet is an Old Invention

The wooden pallet was first invented in 1925, nearly a century ago! It was originally known as a Skid when used as a structure to drag loads from one place to another. But, with the introduction of the forklift, it became known as a ‘Lift Truck Platform” with a few simple design changes. The inventor, Howard T. Hallowell, modified the Skid version to work with a forklift for moving goods safely. 

2. The Four-Way Pallet 

Wooden pallets became in high demand during WW2. But, it didn’t take long for the original design to change to the four-way pallet which was found to be more efficient in transporting weapons and other arms during the war. 

The first patent of the four-way pallet design was filed in 1945 by Robert Braum. 

3. Wooden Pallets Can Last Up to 5 Years

Wooden pallets have a relatively long lifespan considering the loads they have to handle! Pallets can last between three to five years depending on a number of factors. Increasing the lifespan is possible by:

  • Handling them properly and not dragging them when loaded
  • Repairing them as soon as they’re damaged
  • Not overloading them or storing them on their sides
  • Choosing the right design for the type of load being supported
  • Picking high quality materials

Treated wooden pallets have a longer lifespan with more durability compared to untreated ones. Plastic pallets do have a longer lifespan of 10 years. However, they can’t be as easily repaired if damaged compared to its wooden counterpart. 

4. Countries Set Standards for Pallets

Some countries such as Australia set standards for the size and dimension of pallets. This is to ensure the safe transportation of goods and to meet international shipping regulations. Australia’s standard size for pallets is 1165mm x 1165mm x 150mm. These dimensions may vary depending on the industry. 

Examples of standard size pallets in other countries include:

  • United States: 1219mm x 1016mm
  • United Kingdom: 1200mm x 800mm
  • Asia: 1100mm x 1100mm
  • New Zealand: 1200mm x 1000mm

5. Manufacturing Pallets is BIG Business

Manufacturing wooden pallets is a big business in many countries. Manufacturers are supplying up to $1 billion worth of pallets and other wooden products in countries such as Australia. In the same country, there are 822 wooden pallet manufacturers with over 4,500 employees engaged in the industry. 

Countries such as the United States have over 1.9 billion shipping pallets in circulation every year.  

However, there has also been a trend of reusing timber pallets due to shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

6. Plastic Pallets vs Wooden Pallets: Which is Better?

Wooden pallets are mostly made from timber byproducts. While they’re recyclable and can even be reused to make furniture, they’re not the most eco-friendly option. Plastic pallets have become a popular alternative to the wooden pallet, being longer lasting and more hygienic for transporting goods such as fresh food and pharmaceutical products and they can be used in freezers. 

Plastic pallets can also be recycled and used in various ways though not as versatile as the timber pallet. 

Lastly, it’s easier to repair damaged wooden pallets compared to the plastic options which have to be discarded when spoiled.

7. Wooden Pallets Are Recyclable

Wooden pallets can be recycled and used in other ways once they’re no longer used for transporting and storing goods. Wooden pallets can be used in the following ways:

  • Broken down to make mulch for gardens
  • Turned into animal bedding
  • Used as bio-fuels
  • Broken down to make wood pellets
  • Construction of furniture and low-cost housing

With over 140,000 tonnes of pallets landing up in the landfill, you can rather put them to good use by recycling them in various ways. 

Final Thoughts

The next time you see or use a wooden pallet consider there’s more to the structure than being a flat transport base for moving and storing goods.

Pallets have been around for many years and while new materials have been used to construct them, timber is still the popular choice. Who would have thought such a simple structure could have such a fun and interesting background?7 Fun and Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Pallets