Pallet Track is celebrating 10 years in business in 2014

The availability of trucks and drivers is now a critical issue threatening to stifle road transport’s recovery and hurt the wider UK economy, the MD of Pallet-Track has warned.

Speaking to MT, pallet network boss Nigel Parkes described managing a return to growth within the industry and the networks themselves as a key challenge faced by all transport firms.

“What you have had are operators cutting their cloth to survive. Where do those drivers and vehicles come from?” asked Parkes.

“We have constant reports saying there’s a national driver shortage; you can’t just click your fingers and get drivers and trucks. You need to apply for additional resources on your O-licence so you now have to fund that on your application,” he said.

Pallet-Track will welcome on board its 75th shareholder-member, Maldon, Essex-based Keyes Transport, at the end of this month covering the CM postcode area. It was previously covered by Pallet-Track founder member Bartrum’s, which will continue to cover Norfolk (IP/NR postcodes). Keyes Transport is moving to Pallet-Track from UK Pallets.

Pallet-Track celebrated its 10th anniversary on 30 January, and has expanded from 45 members and a hub that

processed 852 pallets on its first night to one that now sees 1.8 million pallets pass through each year off the back of measured, organic growth.

Nigel ParkesPalletTrack

Nigel Parkes, MD, Pallet-Track

Parkes has always avoided running direct hub accounts that create additional hub volume, a policy he believes will serve the network well with the current labour shortages. “You can place members under as much pressure with [too much] volume as you can with the lack of it,” he said. "It’s a balancing act and it one as a chief executive of the business I take seriously."

Parkes warning came after Macintyre Transport chairman Harvey Macintyre told MT that sub-contractors were "dying on the vine", stating it had instead had to add vehicles to its own fleet to make up for a contractor shortfall.