When the Army sets the standards – History of pallet use | Tishma Technologies, LLC

When the Army sets the standards – History of pallet use

Pallets and pallet handling emerged in the 20th Century, representing one of the most important logistics tools. Over the past century, pallets continued to evolve, therefore enabling the growth of modern logistics. Utilization of pallets allows for significant efficiency improvements in the handling and transport of unit loads instead of loose stacking of goods. During World War 2, some additional refinements were added to pallet design and management.

The Office of The Quartermaster General, Field Operations Branch of the Storage Division, was the first to take steps in developing new warehouse handling and warehousing methods. They were faced with the responsibility and pressure: their new methods had to sustain quick results. At the time, one manufacturer was able to deliver a quantity of a fork truck with a load capacity of 2000 lb.  As a result, the system was predicated on this particular truck, and the pallet of the Quartermaster Corps was made to fit that truckload capacity. A standard Quartermaster pallet is 32 in. long and 40 in. wide.  A million or more of these were procured and placed in service within a year.

With time, manufacturers of fork trucks increased their output and the Quartermaster General procured the larger trucks for all services, causing the role of larger pallets more common.

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The Navy set out its materials handling program in 1942.  By this time the manufacturers of fork trucks were in quantity production, so the Navy obtained more of the larger trucks with load capacity up to 15,000 lb.  This is why the pallets used for inter-depot and overseas shipment are bigger: they are standardized on the 48 x 48 in. for inter-depot and overseas shipment, and 42 x 66 in. pallet for the intra-depot movements


Some experts predict that somewhere between one million and three million pallets will be disposed of by the government once they are no longer needed for supplies storing by the Army. The largest volume will be in the 32 x 40 in., 48 x 48 in. and the 42 x 66 in. sizes. Some of the 42 x 66 in. pallets will be picked up by stevedoring companies for use in marine terminals, and other pallet sizes will be used by manufacturers who are now learning the value of this shipment.


Before the armed services procured so many pallets, industry had been thinking about building pallets of light, cheap construction, so-called “single shippers,” made to carry one load and then be discarded as scrap lumber, but since a large surplus of pallets is expected, this cheap “single shipper” type of pallet will not be developed.  Instead, the industry is probably going to absorb the surplus pallets.


If you utilize pallets for shipping and stacking of your products, you are well aware that manually placing boxes on pallets can be time-consuming and expensive; it can also put unusual stress on workers. If you still haven’t considered investing in a good, automated palletizing system built to meet your needs, check out robotic pallets by Tishma Technologies.