Photo: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, 2005
Pallets Waiting to be Loaded in a Container, Shenzhen, China
Factory output, particularly in the light manufacturing sector, is
commonly stacked on pallets that can be handled with minimal capital
investment (fork lift, loading bays). Pallets are convenient for
goods that are relatively heavy as they are designed to be handled
by forklifts. These pallets are then loaded
on trucks and delivered to customers. If long distance trade and intermodal
transportation is involved, pallets are commonly loaded into containers
after being consolidated into load units.
This process can take place right at the factory or at a distribution
center such as the one depicted above; the APL Logistics Freight Distribution
Center, located in Shenzhen, China. APL (American President Lines; the
term is always used as an acronym since the company is no longer
American interests; it
is owned by the Singapore maritime shipper Neptune Orient Lines
which is the world's 6th largest container shipping company).
center is at the intermediate stage of global commodity chains after
manufacturing has taken place, but only early in the distribution process
and well before retailing to the final consumer. A wide variety of locally
produced goods are consolidated in the DC into container batches bound
for the nearby port (Yantian). The warehouse is organized as a
distribution center where freight (on pallets or not) is delivered on one side, sorted, assembled,
and shipped on the other side
into containers (commonly 40 footers).
The goods stay in the warehouse for a few days at most and often for
less than 24 hours.