The rise and rise of the pallet networks here and in Continental Europe is one of the transport and logistics industry’s big success stories in recent years. The networks bring regional and national hauliers and logistics companies together in working partnerships, to offer the customer the optimum reliability, care and service performance. Everyone is a winner – the customers, the network members, other road users and the wider community.

For the logistics companies and hauliers, pallet network membership helps bring in a stream of regular, profitable work. It reduces the numbers of vehicles travelling empty for long distances after a delivery by having one haulier bring a load to the hub and pick up another for the return journey.

For the customer, pallet networks offer a wide service portfolio using the combined resources of strategically located partners rather than relying on a single haulier to span the whole geographical area. Typically the pallet networks offer next day delivery to anywhere in the UK, at competitive prices and with a quality service level. Last but not least, other road users and the local population in the surrounding area also benefit from the lower number of lorries on the road network and reduced emissions.

As we report in this feature 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for UPN, one of the UK’s leading pallet networks, which is strengthening its offering by bringing in new members to cover key postcode areas, expanding its pallet range and accepting full pallets measuring up to 2.2 metres as the standard height for delivery by their UK palletised freight services.

Big isn’t always beautiful when it comes to picking – or joining – a pallet network. To quote MD Dave Brown, UPN have always been about quality of service, rather than quantity of pallets moved. They see their differentiating features as flexibility and accessibility, backed by a commitment to service and IT support.

Pallet networks cover the whole UK and Continental Europe, but Greater London, with its high levels of traffic congestion and strict emission standards, has long been seen as presenting a challenge for palletised freight service providers. In addition, operating in the busy City of London demands high standards of driver and vehicle safety, which the leading pallet networks and their members are committed to meeting. The Palletline London team has passed the annual audit for the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme’s Silver accreditation for the second year running.

Finally, after joining a pallet network, member companies are expected to meet the network’s performance and service requirements but they retain their independence and are still free to act on their own initiative to develop their businesses. As we report in this issue, AKW Global Logistics, a shareholder member of both Palletline and Partnerlink, based in London and Manchester and serving the UK and worldwide destinations, has just made a further major investment in its Trafford Park hub.