Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Ode to Pallets and Forklifts

I have been one acquainted with a meeting at a conference table discussing with all due respect widgets or washers or gaskets. Oh my. There we were, grown men and women, discussing the minute details of some insignificant doo-hickey as if it were the second coming of the true revelation of surprise. But sadly I viewed the ceremonies through ironic glasses. And maybe that’s why I’m so intrigued by those industry journals where people take arcane aspects of some business so damned seriously. How do they do it? Like, say, speaking about pallets. Thanks to Evenings on the lake for this link to the History of the Forklift & Pallet. It hath given me inspiration.

Ode to American Material Handling

They placed a bottom board
securely to some skid
creating for our trade
the pallet. We outdid
our distribution weight
with incommensurate
enhancements. Lift trucks rose
our storage space to heights
undreamed of in a world
of two by four uprights.
Three days became four hours
and low sad ceilings, towers,
through spans of Douglas fir.
O wondrous cosmos of
modern material
control, your loads we love—
you lift like Hercules
to send stuff overseas.

In Pallet Enterprise, Rick LeBlanc writes:

The addition of bottom boards on the skid, which appeared by 1925, resulted in the pallet. With the bottom deck, several problems common to the single faced skid were addressed. For example, the bottom boards provided better weight distribution and reduced product damage; they also provided better stacking strength and rigidity. Lift truck manufacturers promoted the idea of using more vertical area of a plant for stock storage. The telescopic lift and pneumatic tires of the lift truck, coupled with a short turning radius, now allowed them to be used in close quarters, on wooden floors in buildings with low ceilings.

There is something to be said about the cold rational eye of the historian. There but for the grace of their stamina and concentration, the history of these modern times would be lost forever, deleting for the world any future Iliads and Odyssies of the modern corporation.

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