The History and the Future of the Pallet


The magic of the pallet is the magic of abstraction:

Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a “unit load”-standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency; the gains are so impressive, in fact, that many experts consider the pallet to be the most important materials-handling innovation of the twentieth century. Studies have estimated that pallets consume 12 to 15 percent of all lumber produced in the US, more than any other industry except home construction.

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