Palletways has a Europe-wide network of more than 300 members handling some 27,000 pallets per day across the group. Its central hub in Lichfield is supported via centrally-owned sites in London (Greenford and Dartford) and a Scottish hub in Edinburgh. Its UK business, the engine room of the group operation, has more than 100 members that deliver up to 20,000 pallets day. The network has KPIs in place monitoring vehicle utilisation across the network (members); it also tracks the drop density within individual member postcodes. At the start of this year it went live with a £750,000 hub scanning system at Lichfield, which it says will increase productivity and eliminate the risk of lost pallets. A web portal acts as a central point of access for members and customers alike, making transactional and service information available to all in real-time. Palletways has also introduced Collect Direct, which enables customers to collect a consignment from any network member depot in the UK. Half of the network’s members have been with it longer than a decade, which it says demonstrates its an efficient, value for money proposition for its haulier members. Judges felt that the network’s entry clearly "demonstrated continual improvement over four years, with a good level of detail."
Pall-Ex is currently bringing its business practices to a wider European audience with ambitious plans to have a 15-country strong network in play by 2015. In the past year it has set up Pall-Ex Italia, Iberia and Romania under master franchise agreements. Making the case for high vehicle utilisation (by its network members), Pall-Ex has further boosted the efficiency of its network with the introduction of Retail Plus+. This allows for home deliveries, timed deliveries into retail outlets and deliveries out of hours (all common "problem" areas). It has attracted interest from corporate partners such as The Body Shop. Pall-Ex also provides a bespoke nominated carrier service for Asda, which involves collecting freight from suppliers. It claims this has reduced congestion at Asda DCs, as well as reducing road miles. Another initiative is Eco-Drive. This service was set up to address the issue of the large amount of storage space that was being taken up by packaging at customer premises. As part of the service Pall-Ex in partnership with recycling specialist Greenhouse takes cardboard and plastic back to its central hub in Leicestershire’s Ellistown at the same time as deliveries or collections are made. This is then processed to save it heading to landfill. The judges thought the entry "answered the brief very well" amongst a field of highly credible entries for the new category.
Fortec Pallet Distribution Network
Fortec formally unveiled its revised mission statement "Success through Excellence" last year. Shortly after it committed to becoming an Investor in Excellence. Not to be confused with the Investors in People standard, Investors in Excellence is a pan-industry accreditation that provides a framework to aid development of strong leadership within businesses. Those holding the accreditation include Bombardier Transport, E.ON UK Energy Services, and 3663 Catering Equipment. This ethos of excellence filters down throughout the 72 members of the network, helping Fortec to meet the expectations of its customers. As a network they are (compared to the industry average) heavily weighted towards the timed and next-day consignment end of the pallet delivery market, meaning operational excellence is a must. Fortec has recently upgraded 50 security cameras at its Northamptonshire hub at Watford Gap to provide around the clock recording, which allows it to track each pallet’s journey around the site. Recently, Fortec redesigned its hub to streamline the delivery and collection process for hauliers, making simple but important tweaks to safely speed up the process. As part of the redesign a zonal loading system was introduced at the hub, reducing travel time within for the forklift fleet servicing members’ trucks.
Palletline, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, completes the shortlist. It has just opened a new Scottish hub and says the launch in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, which will complement its Birmingham, London and Manchester hubs, will bring operational and environmental benefits. Last year Palletline delivered a member training programme, providing hauliers in the network with business development advice on selling into Europe, to social media workshops to help open up another marketing channel. Palletline claims to be the only pallet network to use scanning and e-pod data to manage service failures (in part thanks to network management system Contrado). While the number of pallets delivered across the network increased in 2011 over 2010, there was a notable reduction in the number of ad-hoc couriers required to ensure service standards were maintained, suggesting improved transit performance, improved customer service and reduced cost to members. Centralised purchasing has driven down costs for hauliers, and a retained dividend for shareholder members proved as popular as you’d expect. The introduction of specific quarter and half pallet pricing has improved members’ competiveness, allowing them to deliver a cost effective service to customers and boost volumes. Judges were impressed by the network’s "investment to improve efficiency and [member] dividends ".