They are the unappreciated material handling component. They work hard, require no servicing and can even be recycled when they reach the end of their serviceable lifespan. In Australia, they comprise 10 equal-length slats of wood stapled or nailed together. If you haven't got it yet - it's a pallet!
You may think every pallet is the same, but the Australian pallet we are all familiar with is quite unique in a global context. Australian standard pallets measure in at 1165mm x 1165mm and are used for both transport and racking.
The peculiar measurement of this pallet goes back to World War II when Railway of Australia Container Express (RACE) containers required this particular size to fit exactly two pallets side-by-side. A RACE container will hold 20 pallets in a two-row, two-level configuration. The RACE container sizing is now defunct.
The RACE containers were slightly wider than the current 20 and 40-foot ISO containers that are used around the world, making the Australian pallet sizes slightly ill-suited. The Australian standard pallet still provides a comparatively low wasted floor percentage (8.1% wasted floor compared to 15.2% from a European ISO pallet) and fewer requirements for dunnage than other pallets.
Interestingly, Australian pallets are used almost exclusively right here. So next time you see a pallet, remember it's as Aussie as cracking a stubbie fresh from the Esky to watch a pair of Bonds daks drying on the Hills Hoist!
BONUS: Watch this great video that shows how pallets are made!
Pallets - the often unappreciated component in the material handling industry!