Wooden pallets + Euro Pallets

A success model with a “family tree” and a bright future

Wooden pallets have become an integral part of global transport. For 60 years, standardised Euro Pallets have enabled efficient loading and for 30 years, the open exchange system EPAL has perfected the cycle of load carriers. Benefits such as a positive carbon footprint will continue to make the wooden pallet the first choice in the future.

The Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns, backlogs – none of it slowed the European pallet industry down. Despite the fact that the global markets have slid into a recession in the meantime and pallet sales are traditionally considered an economic indicator. The industry's astonishing resilience can be explained, among other things, by shifts in consumer habits. Losses among automotive suppliers were offset by increased demand in the food, hygiene and DIY sectors. Due to panic buying at the start of the pandemic, pallets were even in above-average demand and the wood packaging industry underpinned its status as a system-relevant one. “Without pallets, packaging and cable drums made of wood, there would be no food, no medicine, no medical equipment and also no spare parts for machinery and equipment that ensure the supply of drinking water and energy,” recalled the managing director of the German Bundesverbandes Holzpackmittel, Paletten, Exportverpackung (HPE) e.V. (“Association of Wood Packaging, Pallets, Export Packaging”), Marcus Kirschner, in March 2020.

Returning to where it all started

The triumphant advance of the Euro Pallet began six decades ago. Its dimensions of 800 x 1200 mm have been the measure of all things in transport since 1961. Behind the standardisation at that time was the desire for optimal use of space and efficiency through uniform sizes. Given the chaos that reigned on the loading docks of European railways in the 1950s, this was a more than understandable concern. In 1961, the most important European railways signed an agreement on a standardised, exchangeable pallet called the Euro Pallet, which was supposed to save the logistics sector up to 90 percent in time.

Leonhard Scherer

Managing Director of Euroblock

“Without pallets, packaging and cable drums made of wood, there would be no food and no medicine, among others.”

Loading, unloading, loading ...

With currently around 600 million Euro pallets and 20 million pallet cages in the world's largest open exchange pool, EPAL guarantees the flow of goods in the logistics world. As a registered association, it does not pursue any commercial interests and is exclusively oriented towards the needs of industry, trade and logistics partners. EPAL is represented in over 30 countries by 14 national committees, which are committed to the national implementation of EPAL's objectives. Since 1 August 2013, EPAL has had Euro Pallets produced and repaired under exclusive licence with the branding "EPAL im Oval" (EPAL in the oval) on four corner blocks.

EPAL as the keeper of the standard

The high, tested quality of the Euro Pallet is ensured by the European Pallet Association e.V. (EPAL). Founded in 1991 as the umbrella organisation of licensed manufacturers and repairers of EPAL/EUR pallets and pallet cages, EPAL is responsible around the world for standardisation, quality assurance and legal prosecution of pallet counterfeiters. EPAL owes its success above all to the open exchange pool it set up in the early 1990s. The circular economy of the load carriers reduces empty kilometres and thus the volume of traffic, carbon emissions and transport costs.

EUROBLOCK supplies components

EPAL's long-standing partner and fellow campaigner is EUROBLOCK Verpackungsholz GmbH, a sales company for packaging wood and pressboard pallet blocks founded in 1998 and a joint venture between the Pfeifer Group and Presswood International. As a market-leading supplier to the European pallet industry, EUROBLOCK meets the highest quality criteria which are monitored internally and externally. Due to the convincing product and application advantages, EUROBLOCK pallet blocks have the approval of EPAL, other rental pools as well as many large end users.

At the locations Unterbernbach, Lauterbach, Uelzen (Germany) and Ermelo (Netherlands) EUROBLOCK blocks are produced for pallet manufacturers who affix their own branding stamp with the licence number on the centre block. This makes it possible to identify the company that manufactured the Euro Pallet. In Unterbernbach and Ermelo, EUROBLOCK also produces the "repair blocks with a dot" for licensed EPAL repair companies. The dot marks only repaired pallets and makes them distinguishable from new pallets at a glance. By the way, all markings are essential for a Euro Pallet of the EPAL system – even an absolutely dimensionally identical pallet without branding is considered a one-way pallet and cannot be exchanged.

Euroblöcke mit Lochbohrung

Introducing the EUR 1 Euro Pallet

Made of precisely 11 boards, 9 pressboard blocks and 78 nails. Its dimensions are 1200 mm x 800 mm x 144 mm and it covers 0.96 square metres (0.4 loading metres). Depending on wood humidity, a Euro Pallet weighs between 20 and 25 kilograms and can carry loads of up to 1,500 kg. On average, Euro Pallets remain in service for 6 years. 

Benefits without a best-before date

“60 years after their invention, wooden pallets still play a significant role in almost all fields of modern warehouse and transport logistics. Many of our customers produce pallets and wooden crates that are used in highly hygienically sensitive areas such as food production or the pharmaceutical industry”, – Managing Director Leonhard Scherer comments on the unbroken popularity of wooden pallets. Apart from the hygienic benefits mentioned, factors such as great ecological performance, sustainability, reusability and cost efficiency are deciding aspects. “Wooden pallets are high-tech load carriers made of regrowing resources and are perfect for our times“.

„Wooden pallets are high-tech load carriers made of regrowing resources and are perfect for our times.“

Leonhard Scherer,
Managing Director of Euroblock

Make way for the digital pallet

The mega-trend of digitalisation is leaving its mark on the pallet industry. In recent years, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML have developed the classic Euro Pallet into the intelligent iPAL pallet with a QR code on the blocks on behalf of EPAL. This 2D code serves as proof of authenticity for EPAL load carriers (e.g. Euro Pallets) and replaces labelling by linking the pallet ID to the goods or consignment. The vision for the future includes a simple track-and-trace system in combination with the iPAL app and iPAL platform. The aim of this development is to digitise the open pallet pool in order to create intelligent logistics networks and offer customers sustainable added value. Thus equipped for the future, the Euro Pallet and EPAL are set to celebrate many more dual anniversaries!