The rental and purchase of pallets (or skids) are often an overlooked or under-appreciated detail. Pallets however, are a useful and in many cases, essential item businesses need in order to meet standards and be successful in their businesses.
Basic pallets are constructed of heat-treated wood products and formed in a box shape. Each pallet has specially measured openings to fit allow transport by forklift, pallet jack, front loaders or other devices for ease. Often a load is secured on a pallet with the use of strapping, stretch or shrink wrap for shipments. Though the dimensions of a pallet vary with each country and each location, the most commonly used pallet in North America is in a square 42 inches x 42 inches for use in the grocery industry. The square shape of the pallet ensures stability of the load and keeps it from tipping. Other dimensions are used to meet warehouse specifications or to accommodate loading dock doors, train car doors or openings for other storage containers. Pallets can also be designed to fit through standard doorways when necessary. Pallet companies have the capability to custom design pallets to meet the needs of their customers accordingly.
Other pallets are constructed using galvanized metals, aluminum, engineered wood products (such as plywood or particle board) hard plastic or even paper. All types are designed with storage, transportation and stability in mind. Depending on the use of the pallet, different standards apply.
The pallet was originally designed to help with the import and export of various goods internationally. The military benefited greatly from the introduction of ‘palletization’ as placing goods on pallets freed up men for other services. As the need for safe, reliable cargo transport increased, so did the pallet industry. The pallet industry has now become a standard for shipment, cargo transport and international export and import of goods.
The use of pallets has been instituted for the following purposes:
• Storage of goods (i.e. warehouse, shed, stockyard)
• Safe transportation
• To meet Food safety standards
• Stacking purposes
When it comes to being able to safely store various items of various weights a pallet is a necessity. For instance, in parts warehouses, pallets are widely used in order to carefully store products that cannot be lifted manually. The integrity of the pallet needs to be intact, the quality of the wood or material needs to be secure and strong and the design of the pallet needs to be able to withstand the weight and pressure of the item that is stored on top of the pallet. The items may be stored for a long period of time and therefore the wood used needs to be treated so there is no risk of rotting or breaking down. In most cases, pallets are heat treated where the wood is heated to a temperature of 56 °C (132.8 °F) for at least 30 minutes. Other treatments such as chemical treatments have been phased out due to environmental concerns.
Pallets are also treated to withstand weather conditions as they are used in outdoor storage yards.
Transportation and shipping standards have enforced the use of pallets especially in regard to food companies. Shipping products is made easier with the use of pallets as is the mobility of products that otherwise would be too heavy to lift. When it comes to international shipments, pallets must be specially treated to meet the specifications of the International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15) dealing with possible transport of diseases, insects, plants or other infectious materials from other countries during transport.
In order to meet food safety standards for storage of goods, food companies must raise their products off the floor. This can be achieved with the use of pallets. Used in food warehouses, freezers, and production lines, pallets are an integral part of the food service industry. They are also necessary for safe food shipments.
The use of pallets has also allowed for the safe stacking of product. Because the pallets are uniform, balancing is a simple task as is finding ample storage space for merchandise. Forklift operators can easily take pallets and stack them in an orderly fashion, organize them and free up space for other product as a result. Pallets also allow for storage within other containers such as shelving units, racks and other sealed storage units.