Pallets are used in a wide variety of places, from supermarkets to factories, and when you look for pallets you see them all the time. They’re an excellent base for goods, making them easier to lift with a forklift and transport, and make it more likely that items will be delivered in perfect condition. Around 80% of goods in the USA are carried by pallet at some point in the supply chain, and around 46% of lumber is used to make pallets. Think about all the things you buy online and in store, and the majority of these goods will have used pallets in the supply chain. Here’s why they are so important.
Pallets are usually made in wood, although you’ll sometimes see plastic or metal pallets too. Made with two layers of wood, they are easy to lift using a jack or forklift. Pallets in Perth are often used to export items that can’t stand up on their own. For example, bicycles can’t stand up on their own and so are difficult to ship. If shipped without a pallet, they can be difficult to secure inside a truck to stop them from falling and getting damaged, and therefore need a sturdy base. Attaching them to a pallet makes them much easier to load and unload when being shipped.
The shape of a pallet also makes storage of goods easier. When brought into a warehouse, anything attached to a pallet can be taken to a shelf by forklift, and sits cleanly on the shelf. This helps make the workplace safer, as there’s less risk of items falling from shelves and injuring people.
The design of pallets hasn’t changed much over the years. However, block pallets are now a more common sight in warehouses. Instead of using long cross-boards, the deckboards are supported by large blocks. This means they can be lifted by forklifts from all angles. With older pallets, if a forklift approached it from the wrong direction, they’d have to turn it around before lifting. Block pallets remove this need.
Pallet boxes are often used in warehouses too. With solid sides, even awkwardly shaped items can easily be stacked and shipped, saving space and ensuring things arrive in perfect condition.
The history of pallets
The history of pallets is closely aligned to the invention of the forklift. The first gas-powered forklift came to the market in 1937, making it easy to move and stack goods, and pallets were created to make things easier to lift. When World War II broke out, pallets were essential to the supply chain, and millions of them were used to deliver goods around the world.
Pallets and logistics
IKEA was one of the first companies to plan their products around pallets. In order to minimise shipping costs, they have been known to re-design items and packaging so that more can fit onto a pallet. An example of this is the ‘Bang’ mug. These stackable mugs were re-designed so that over 2,000 could be fit onto a single pallet, instead of the original 800, saving 60% in shipping costs.
One challenge that organisations who use a lot of pallets have is managing their pallets. It can be difficult to keep track of pallets, or return ones that are broken or no longer needed. Palletwest offer a collection service, and re-use old pallets by selling them second-hand. With many millions of pallets being used around the world, these sorts of schemes are essential to protect the environment. Undamaged or damaged pallets in larger quantities can be collected for free, which creates extra space at your workplace. Damaged pallets are often fixed and re-used, which uses much less energy than making new pallets.
Alternative uses for pallets
Both new and used pallets can be used in a variety of ways:
- Pallet furniture
- Re-using pallet wood
- Arts and crafts
Pallet wood is strong and sturdy, and therefore is ideal for using in a wide variety of projects. If you decide to make pallet furniture, it’s important to check that the wood hasn’t been treated, as sometimes harmful chemicals have been used. Wood that has been treated with toxic chemicals shouldn’t be used in bonfires either. Buy pallets through Palletwest and you can choose pallets that are suitable for home use.
There are lots of styles of pallet furniture that even amateur DIY-enthusiasts can make. For example, pallets make excellent bedframes, and simply need to be joined together to make a base. They have a relaxed, contemporary style that’s popular with younger people, and are excellent for those on a budget. Pallets are also good for furniture as they can be easily painted or stained. A lick of chalk paint or varnish is all that’s needed to turn them into something stylish for the home.
Pallets have a large number of uses in crafts, and in addition to furniture they can be used in many ways around the home. From birdhouses to raised garden beds, there’s much more to pallets than just shipping.
Pallets have even been used to build places to live. In 1999, pallet houses were a solution to help provide shelter for Kosovan refugees. Later, it was suggested that pallet homes could solve housing problems in European cities where there’s a lack of affordable properties. Pallet wood is generally very weatherproof, and could be treated to make it more fire-resistant to build shelter.
Pallets that have been damaged beyond repair can be used for firewood. As long as it hasn’t been treated or painted at any point, this type of wood is excellent for burning in a bonfire. Many people now have wood-burning fireplaces in their home, and so old pallets can be a cheap source of firewood that’s already cut to size.
Whether you need a single pallet in Perth, or a bulk order, get in touch with Palletwest today on (08) 9434 2264 for a quick delivery and competitive pricing.