Pallets are flat beds, mattress or platforms of wood, straw, plastic or metal. They aren’t always slabs but may refer to framework made out of smaller rough wooden planks. They are portable platforms of various sorts of materials that can serve as base for storing, assembling and transporting goods. The assembly that is attached to the supporting base together makes up for what is termed as superstructure. They are now an indispensable part of supply chain logistics. In the next step of materials handling, they are moved via equipment such as fork lifts, pallet jacks or conveyers to warehouses, bulk storage units or even containers. A twentieth century intervention, it’s applications today has been significant, allowing dramatic efficiency improvements over the previous loose stacking of goods.
Uses of Pallets
Pallets can be used to lay tired bodies or mounting (and securing) all sorts of objects, be they light or of the heavier kind, which can then be lifted and moved via a forklift truck. They may come to mean a potter’s or an artists’ tool as well. There are no standard dimensions for pallets as such and the size of the said base depends on the job specific usage. Many pallets can come together to form a larger structural unit load that allow for better support/storage efficiencies. Since its invention, it has taken over the space given earlier to older methods of crating like wooden box and barrels.
The rapid use of containers for freight transport where handling has been completely mechanized i.e. through cranes or forklift trucks has eventually led to mass appeal of pallets as shipping containers have the sort of smooth surfaces required for easy pallet movement.
They are generally the easier method to transport heavy stacks. They can be both light weight pallets that are meant for single usage and heavy-duty pallet that are designed for multiple reuses. They are suited for a sustainable future given that even discarded pallets have later been fashioned into furniture, musical instruments, and skateboards and surprisingly even refugee housing.
What varieties of pallets are known today?
For taking care of needs as well as costs, we have the expendable single use pallets as well as the lower costing, more accessible, more environment friendly durable/ reusable pallets. However, an initial good investment in better quality pallets may result in better yields for the long term as they typically last longer and thus have better utility.
On basis of material, we have today:
- Wooden pallet: They generally dominate pallet use. Often are an excellent value for price and performance. They are stiff, more or less inexpensive and best of all, can be easily molded to the size to fit the customer’s requirements.
- Paper Pallets: These are the best when we look for lightweight materials. Apart from very easy to clean, they are good for recycling too. In addition, exemption from ISPM 15requirements adds another feather to the cap.
- Wood composite pallets: They encompass the advantages of both wooden and paper ones in that they are stiff, exempt from ISPM 15 regulations and are made for recycling.
- Metal pallets: While on the heavier side, this also ensures good pallet strength and durability.
- Plastic Pallets: These probably score the best overall when we look into all the positive features. They are durable, good to maintain hygiene. They don’t absorb liquid and are so well suited for food safety programs. Unlike wooden or metallic ones, there are no protruding fasteners or slivers that may cause injury.
Other than composition, pallets can also be classified into block and stringer pallets. Pallets with solid stringers have for two-way entry, one from each end of pallet, whereas notched stringers allow partial entry via four ends. Block pallets generally have four-way entrances. One can demarcate pallets on basis of style too where they may come as reversible pallets in which either side can act as top deck, and non-reversible pallets where they have both top and bottom decks but only one of which is intended for top deck usage.