As a concept, pallet networks are a brilliantly simple idea, which is good news all round for customers, network members and the environment. Hauliers work together exchanging pallets in a hub and spoke arrangement, one member delivering pallets to the hub, and another carrier taking them on the other leg of the journey. With thousands of pallets going through the networks every day in the UK alone, the end result is steady work for the hauliers and better rates for the customers, balanced by the green dividend of fewer lorries running empty and less HGV traffic on the roads.

United Pallet Network (UPN) is the UK’s fastest growing palletised freight delivery network, and claims the most advanced IT support available in the pallet network sector and the widest range of palletised freight options. As reported in this feature, UPN members are fully exploiting the powerful potential of their attention-demanding new vehicle livery, which is rolling out across the UK. Prompted by UPN member Ningbo Distribution’s owner Chris Stockton, who brought in a groundbreaking giraffe rear door livery, dolphins, penguins, beers, birds and cheetahs can now also be seen on UPN vehicles.

The pallet network probably best known to the British public is Pall- Ex, whose CEO Hilary Devey, CBE is a household name thanks to her appearances on BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den. Featured in a recent WLN interview, Hilary Devey founded Pall-Ex in 1996, attracting 84 UK members in four years. Pall- Ex is now an international market leader in freight distribution, with over 350 members across Europe. Today Kevin Buchanan, Pall-Ex Group MD looks after customers and network members day to day, enabling Hilary Devey to focus on strategy and vision for the business.

One of the UK’s earliest pallet networks, Palletways was founded here in 1994 and now handles up to 40,000 pallets daily across Europe. Palletways Group’s Chief Operating Officer Luis Zubialde recently received the Premio Admira Award for his contribution to Spanish logistics, having joined Palletways Iberia as MD when it was a start-up and grown it into a well-established, successful network. Luis moved to the UK in April 2014 to become Palletways UK MD then took over as Group COO last summer.

Palletways currently distributes one in every four pallets handled by UK pallet networks. Its awardwinning technology includes its unique archway scanning system and its Digital Information Hub. Its latest tech innovation is its ETA pallet delivery time system, giving an industry-first two-hour time notification window and including an ETA app for Palletways members. Stand by for more such innovations going forwards as the networks help customers meet the pressures of on-line shopping.