Hand pallet trucks are relatively simple devices that give a single person the ability to transport one or more pallets without the use of complicated heavy equipment, like a forklift. The hand pallet truck, which is also known as a pallet jack or a pallet lifter, does not have a large design, which allows it to slide a set of blades into the open area of a pallet, no matter where it is placed. A truck gently lifts the pallet so it can be transported to a different location by just one person. The original pallet trucks made use of cranks and levers to lift elevate pallets off the ground, but the trucks of today utilize more advanced technology, like hydraulics and small batteries, to give it the power necessary to lift heavy pallets.
A basic hand pallet is carefully designed so that it that it has a set of blades that align with the pallet’s open area and can lift it off the ground by several inches in a swift and intuitive manner. On the opposite end of the device, a control panel makes it possible to adjust the distance between the two blades, so that the user can lift pallets of different shapes and sizes. A sturdy base supports both the two blades and the control panel, and is mounted on a set of flexible small wheels in order to achieve maximum maneuverability. Most hand pallet have a rear set of wheels that swivel, so that it is easier to tackle corners. Some more advanced trucks have swiveling wheels in the front and the back.
Most historians of the hand pallet truck trace its origins back to the first half of the 1900s. In many manufacturing plants, the need to move raw materials and finished goods with greater efficiency was becoming increasingly important to meeting higher production levels. Early versions of the pallet truck, which resembled more of a forklift than the hand pallets of today, were helpful in transporting a small amount of goods from the warehouse to the production floor, but were still clunky, wasteful, and inefficient.
The hand pallet truck that we know today was “officially” invented in 1939 by George Raymond, Sr and Bill House, when they filed the patent. Although the exact way in which they invented the pallet truck was forgotten, the paperwork for the original patent still exists. With the invention of the hand pallet truck, a single employee could now lift and move an entire pallet loaded with goods. The loaded pallet could be transported with ease, requiring less time or resources to move than carrying the materials by hand or even with the use of a hand truck.
The biggest advantage of a hand pallet truck is that it is relatively small compared to other devices that perform a similar task. This makes it exceedingly easy to utilize the truck in small and tight spaces where even the smallest forklift wouldn’t be able to fit. The smaller size and swivel wheels make it exceedingly simple to navigate winding spaces. For these reasons, manufacturers have stocked up on dozens of trucks so that they can be used in various departments. From the plant floor to the shipping areas, hand pallet trucks are utilized in nearly every department, and will continue to be one of the most useful tools for manufacturers.