It was Britain’s haulage and logistics companies who first developed the concept of pallet networks. Since then they have shown the way forward in terms of operational efficiency and cost savings and the pallet network model, with regional members delivering and collecting from hubs, now operates across the world.

The major networks continue to gain ground. Palletforce has reported a 45% increase in European volumes and extended its European coverage from eight to 24 countries, with volumes in Spain and Italy doubled in the last 12 months. And after reducing their rates in Germany, they now expect high growth there too.

The UK pallet networks raised their profile in the wider business community recently when Eddie Stobart bought The Pallet Network (TPN). The recent deal enhances Eddie Stobart’s capabilities, including smaller load deliveries, and will benefit both businesses and TPN’s members, cross-selling their services to existing Eddie Stobart customers and deploying Eddie Stobart’s operating model in Europe.

Meanwhile TPN and its member companies have been rising to the challenge posed by the skills shortage and attracting younger people into the industry, among them 32 year old pharmacy assistant Emma Wilson, who, as reported recently changed career to became an LGV driver with TPN member Jays Logistics.

Another leading pallet network, Pallet-Track have had a winning year, winning two prizes at the Midlands Business Awards, being listed in the London Stock Exchange’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Europe’ and taking the Growth Award at the 2018 Logistics Awards. The 14-year-old company also picked up the Delivery and Logistics Company of the Year and the Operational Excellence awards at the UK Business Awards, and appeared in the UK’s top 20 fastest growing companies in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100.

Pallet-Track’s members are winning too. The latest joiner is Carlisle-based J. Dickinson Transport, started 23 years ago by former carpet fitter Jimmy Dickinson with just one van and now running 20 vehicles. And Alan Firmin, one of Kent and the southeast’s most respected haulage companies, has reported significant improvements in service levels and communication since joining the Pallet-Track network in December 2017.

Embracing technology is a popular route for the pallet networks to boost their businesses. UPN is establishing a market leader “IQ” in the pallet network sector through its IT and service quality, with live signature capture on both IOS and Android platforms. The increased service capability is attracting new members, including Swanseabased A.T. Morgan and Son, run by MD Helen Morgan, and, following its recent FORS Silver accreditation, Chingford based LHT Logistics.

In other network news A Davies Transport has re-joined Pall-Ex, covering Wakefield. They first joined Pall-Ex in 2009 then left in 2017 for Palletforce. Elddis Transport has joined Palletforce after a 17-year break from pallet networks. Based in County Durham, Elddis runs 160 vehicles from nine hubs. Elddis joins Murray Hogg, a founder Pall-Ex member and a Palletforce member since May.

And finally, training the next generation of pallet network leaders is crucial. Palletways member Walkers Transport, a leading UK transport and thirdparty logistics specialist with operations in Manchester and Leeds, has rolled out a new management training programme, following Walkers’ MBO in October 2017.

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