Have you ever wondered how long the pallet has been revolutionizing shipping in this country and worldwide? Wonder no more. The pallet and the lift truck are now celebrating 75 years of revolutionary service, and, unlike many other inventions of the 1930’s, they are still recognizable in form and function.
In November of 1939, George Richmond of upstate New York received patents for his two inventions, the two-faced pallet and the hydraulic hand pallet lift truck – or what is known today as the fork lift. They were designed to work in tandem with each other to more easily move goods. The brilliance of the two-faced pallet was that it allowed for materials to be stacked and then transported, via forklift, quickly and uniformly.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the pallet itself is that the Raymond Corporation made the pallet patent free to use by anyone so that material handling would more quickly and easily become standardized. Of course, the Raymond Corporation, as the designer and manufacturer of the forklift, had a vested interest in creating demand for it. It’s easy to put wooden pallets together. Designing hydraulic lifting machinery is another matter.
Ultimately these two inventions revolutionized the shipping and warehousing of goods, logistics, and eventually the warehouse stores of today, with their tall, multi-story shelving units and narrow aisles which owe their design to the basic pallet shape as well. The next time you visit Costco or a Sam’s Club, take a minute to notice how rectangular everything is – the shelving, the boxes, even the way the store is divided up. That’s the power of the pallet to influence design and, by extension, everyday life.
Today, of course, goods are tracked electronically with GPS, and shipping is computerized. It is simple to track a specific item as it is transported cross country on pallets, via forklifts, and in trucks. The transfer of goods from place to place is predictable in a way that business as a whole has come to depend on. These advancements could not have been imagined by anyone in 1939, but innovation breeds innovation, and every new invention is the inspiration for something else down the line – something designed to make life and business simpler and more elegant.
Kamps is proud to be a part of this materials handling tradition, and we look forward to better serving our customers in the future by implementing whatever new technology is yet to be designed. It should be interesting, to say the least!