Pallets – Supporting the transport industry since 1930
A pallet is a flat, transport structure that supports goods while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader, other jacking device or a crane. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load and allows for handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap. Since its invention in the twentieth century, it has supplanted older forms of crating like the wooden box and the wooden barrel. It also works well with modern packaging like cardboard boxes and intermodal containers commonly used for bulk shipping.
While most pallets are made of wood, they can also be made of plastic, metal, paper or recycled materials. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Plastics may gain some market share and have some marginal growth, but wood will remain number one. It all comes down to the sanitation discussion.
Although plastic pallets can be just as unsanitary as wood, depending on what was previously done with the pallet, but plastics can be easier to track and sanitise. Plastic pallets also do not have the inherent moisture problem that wooden pallets do, which leads to mould and mildew problems.
So what about composites? Although these materials have been around for years, they have not yet revolutionised the supply chain. A few new designs have recently emerged that might deliver on the promises of composite technology.
Despite its competitive pricing, the composite pallet is still viewed as too expensive compared to the typical wooden pallet. Of course, that all depends on the reuse factor and the number of trips provided before repairs are required.
What is perhaps more important than what the pallet of the future will look like is how the market will view pallets and what will be important to end users. Either way, pallets are the backbone of the transport industry and will be around for many years to come.