Pallets are used to stack, store, protect, and transport materials in the course of being handled by materials handling equipment such as forklifts, pallet jacks or conveyors, being stored in racking or bulk storage or being positioned in transport vehicles. The pallet is the most common base for the unit load, which includes pallet and goods stacked atop it, typically secured by stretch wrap, strapping, shrink wrap, adhesive, pallet collar, or other means of stabilization, including reusable wraps, straps and nets.
Pallets together with palletized handling comprised one of the key logistics tools to emerge in the 20th Century. Pallets appeared and continued to evolve over the past century, helping enable the development of modern logistics. The importance of pallets to supply chain applications today has been significant, allowing dramatic efficiency improvements in the handling and transport of unit loads versus the loose stacking of goods. Additional refinements were added to pallet design and management during World War 2. For example, pallet reuse in the supply chain became increasingly practiced, and pallet collars were developed to enable the double stacking of fragile materials. The pallet pooling concept began to be seriously discussed during this time.
The pallet, typically a form of tertiary packaging, is a flat structure used as a base for the unitization of goods in the supply chain. The MH1-2016 standard defines the pallet as a “portable, horizontal, rigid, composite platform used as (a) base for assembling, storing, stacking, handling and transporting goods as a unit load; often equipped with (a) superstructure.” The superstructure is the assembly that is attached to the supporting base of the pallet.