Some Pallet History

Early pallet pools emerged in the 1940s and became the beginning of a much larger logistics trend.

The pooling of reusable packaging and pallets is an important component of today’s supply chain efficiency and sustainability efforts. While pooling is often embraced as a recent trend that has become increasingly popular over the last decade or two, the roots of this practice go back at least to World War 2. That being said, best in class pools of today bear little resemblance to those early efforts in pooling.

World War 2 and Pallet Pooling

The U.S. military began widespread use of pallets during World War 2. As the War progressed, leaders came to recognize the material handling efficiencies that could be gained through standardizing pallet sizes, both in terms of warehousing operations, as well as in being able to more readily reuse pallets. The Quartermaster Corps, which was a  large user of pallets, eventually chose to standardize around a 32 x 40-inch footprint wood pallet, with a few other acceptable sizes, including 34 x 48-inch and 48 x 60-inch. Pallet boxes, which allowed the stacking of more crushable or irregularly shaped items, were also pooled for reuse.

Throughout the course of the War, the span of palletized handling increased from in-house use, to the introduction of shipping empty pallets to suppliers to palletize for delivery back to the military, and eventually, the palletization of merchandise for shipment to the Pacific Theatre of War