How Pallets Changed The World

How Pallets Changed The World

If you work in the warehouse industry, you’ll know the importance of pallets to your everyday operations. But did you know that there are many experts out there who believe pallets to be ‘the single most important object in the global economy’?

The claim, made in Slate magazine, is an enormous one – but the evidence is there to back it up. From their creation in the 1920s to the present day, where companies like Ikea design their products to fit around pallet sizes and shapes, there’s no denying that these simple wooden constructions have been, and continue to be, essential to the world’s economy.

The first pallets were created during the 1920s to replace the simple wooden crates and boxes which had been used for decades. The construction was simple at first – just basic stringers attached to a top deck. As time went on, boards were added to the bottom of the pallet (forming what we know today to be a close-boarded pallets), and spacers were introduced between loads. By 1925, the pallets in popular use were pretty much identical to the ones which support many industries today.

The effect of pallets on the workplace were unimaginable at the time. Before the creation of pallets, it would take approximately seventy-two hours to unload a few thousand cases of unpalletised canned goods. By the 1930s, workers (with the assistance of newly-invented pallet trucks) had managed to get the time down to just four hours, shortening the supply chain significantly.

Pallets also played an enormous role in World War II. The faster materials handling lines were now essential, with so many troops to feed all over the world. One historian noted that ‘the use of forklift trucks and pallets was the most significant and revolutionary storage development of the war’. The humble pallet was now an essential part of the logistical gymnastics which countries faced in the world’s truly international war.

Despite their simplicity, pallets have remained vital to the everyday operations of many businesses. Ikea has famously designed some of its products to fit around pallets, to maximise efficiency in the Swedish manner the firm has become renowned for. When it redeveloped its ‘Bang’ mug, the redesign ensured that the number of mugs that could fit onto a pallet jumped from 864 to 2,204. This meant an estimated 60% lower shipping costs for the company, and increased profits.

In the modern age, with internet shopping and next-day delivery fast becoming the norm, the pallet is as important and relevant as ever. Most of the objects in our homes wouldn’t have reached us had pallets not been invented when they were.

Here at VPM Racking, we understand just how important pallets are to our clients – and we know that storing them in a space-saving, efficient manner is vital. Our pallet racking solutions are cost-effective and help businesses to make the most of the warehouse space they have. Our service also covers everything from design and installation to inspection and repairs, ensuring that your pallets are stored somewhere that works for your business.

For more information about our services, explore the website:


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