Pallets: Wanted Dead AND Alive

to Boost In-Store, Omni-Channel, Merchandising, Smaller Retail Footprint and More



platform skid

An illustration from Materials-Handling Equipment: A Modern Manual (1946), written by pallet pooling visionary Matthew W. Potts

Fast forward to 2016 and we have the ORBIS Pally

Fast forward to 2016 and we have the ORBIS Pally

I initially had a case of cheesy title angst. The name of this article was close to being FEAR THE ROLLING DEAD. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The idea of castors or wheels on the base of materials handling platforms has been with us for decades.  Even in 1946, materials handling expert of the time, Matthew W. Potts, described loading skids as coming in one of three forms:


When I took a moment to check for old patents, I observed one for a live material handling platform dating back to 1917. Both the live and dead skids that emerged in the early decades of the 20th Century had their sweet spots when it came to optimizing logistics. They were eventually eclipsed by the pallet as it formed a mighty partnership with the forklift.

But what if you could have a pallet that transformed into a dolly when needed?

Enter the ORBIS Pally. Introduced at MODEX 2016, the versatile Pally is part pallet and part dolly. It can be easily converted from static to mobile (casters up or casters down) to best fit the immediate material handling task

The pallet can adjust between modes with a quick press of the pedal. When static, the rubber braking stabilizers ensure the Pally withstands lateral force, allowing it to be safely stored, displayed or transported. Its patented cam mechanism is designed for many activations.

Load stability is ensured by corner grips and pop-up locators. The optional locking handle permits the Pally to be pushed or pulled while the contoured deck handles and lightweight structure enable ergonomic handling.

For easy warehouse integration, the Pally is designed to interface with standard material handling equipment, including 4-way fork truck and 2-way hand truck access. Additionally, it is crafted with the foresight to support field-reparation when necessary of components such as wheel covers, pop-up locators, and casters, extending product life to reduce further the cost per use.

Mike Ludka, senior product manager, ORBIS Corporation, sees a range of applications where the Pally will be of interest. These include captive retail usage as well as omnichannel, where the Pally will aid in navigating tight back rooms and other pedestrian-intensive fulfillment environments.  He also anticipates it being a great fit for smaller format retail stores, a trend which is gathering momentum.  The Pally is likewise attractive for merchandising, where a display-ready pallet of beverage, tissue or soup, for example, can be wheeled out onto the sales floor.

The Pally is available in two fractional pallet sizes, including 31.5” x 23.6” (800mm x 600mm) as well as 39.4” x 23.6” (1000mm x 600mm). As retailers move towards increasing order frequency and smaller order quantities, Ludka notes that the use of fractional pallets can help boost trailer utilization where orders can fit on the smaller sized pallet by building orders a little higher.

“When we looked at bringing the Pally to the market, we didn’t want to bill it as a singular solution,” Ludka says, emphasizing that while it is the newest offering from ORBIS, it is just one of many provided by the company, dead, live or otherwise. “Our goal is to bring a large range of solutions, find out where the pain points of customers are, and then work with them through our five-step process to find the optimal fit.”

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