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Standard of the transport industry – Pallets – boards that make up trade in Europe – News

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Standard of the transport industry – Pallets – boards that make up trade in Europe – News

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Without pallets, trading goods in Europe would hardly function. Factories, trucks and even modern high-bay warehouses are designed for them. Thanks to uniform standards and an exchange system, pallets have become the standard in the transport industry throughout Europe.

What makes the palette special? A standard pallet is precisely standardized: it is 120 cm long and 80 cm wide. It consists of nine wooden blocks, a total of eleven boards and nails of different lengths. The finished pallet receives a bracket that can be used to determine which licensed factory built the pallet. And a stamp states that it was treated with heat against vermin and in which country it was made.

Wooden grate – and yet millimeter work? European trucks are usually focused on pallets. There is space for two or three pallets in width and around 30 in length, depending on the size of the truck. But ultra-modern, automated high-bay warehouses also work with pallets. “If a pallet is not precisely standardized, it can get stuck in the warehouse and bring the entire operation to a standstill,” explains Pascal Holliger, head of the Swiss Holliger pallet factory. That’s why there are even drying tables to calculate how much a pallet can shrink as the wood dries.

How many pallets are there in Europe? A pallet has a lifespan of around seven years. Based on the production figures of the licensed factories, the European Pallet Association (EPAL) assumes that around 800 million pallets are in circulation in Europe.

Where does the palette come from? In the USA, goods were packed on wooden racks as early as the 1920s so that they could be transported more quickly from the factories and to their destination. However, these palettes were of different sizes. “It was the US Navy that set standards for these grates. During the Second World War she had to ship large quantities of war material. “They had to rely on using uniform pallet sizes to make these transports easier to plan and simplify,” says historian Monika Dommann from the University of Zurich. She has studied the history of logistics and pallets intensively.

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Why are there pallets all over Europe? After the war, European railways showed great interest in these pallets. “They were in tough competition with the trucks and hoped to gain advantages in the competition with them,” explains Monika Dommann. Sweden and Switzerland took the lead and defined the standards for the pallets. After years of negotiations, producers and logisticians founded the European Pallet Association (EPAL) in 1991. Around 30 countries are involved, producing, repairing and exchanging pallets.

Legend: If you look closely at a pallet, you can tell from the marking where it was made, in Germany, Turkey or even Ukraine. imago images/Arnulf Hettrich

Are pallets distributed worldwide? EPAL has set itself the goal of distributing the pallets in Asia. That would be a big advantage for imports from China or India to Europe, for example. However, it is difficult to say whether the pallets will prevail there. The fact is: containers, the actual standard in global trade, are not designed for Euro pallets. Accordingly, there are no Euro pallets in the USA.

Palettes also different

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Legende:

imago images/Pond5 Images

Pallets are now not only used as transport racks, but also as bed frames in the student shared apartment or as a lounge on the terrace. For historian Monika Dommann, this is an accolade for the palette: “The really successful inventions are successful precisely because they can also be used for other purposes.”

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