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SMA Pallets Ltd breaks new ground with pallet industry ETA technology first

UK-wide road haulage firm SMA Pallets Ltd is the first company in Hertfordshire to provide its customers with an accurate two-hour time delivery window for palletised freight.

The new service is thanks to innovative, game changing technology developed by Palletways, Europe’s largest and fastest growing palletised freight network. SMA Pallets Ltd is one of 100+ independent transport companies who, as part of the Palletways network, are uniquely positioned to offer this service.

Through the ETA system, SMA Pallets will also be able to provide SMS and email notifications to both their customers and consumers. Information is provided to track and trace goods and notify the two-hour window within which the pallet will be delivered.

Alex Stewart, Operations Supervisor at SMA Pallets said: “The number one on our customers’ wish list is to receive two-hour delivery windows together with electronic notifications via mobile phone and email. Our pallet information system is now on a par with only the best parcel operators. No other palletised freight network or operator in the UK has this system.

“Working with Palletways, we’re part of the first pallet network in the UK to offer a comprehensive ETA system. In turn, this provides our customers an advantage over their competitors and a greater ability to manage their logistics and control costs. It’s a win-win on all sides.”

All drivers in the Palletways UK network of over 100 depots are trained to use the ETA App that will enable them to alter routes and delivery times according to traffic conditions and unforeseen circumstances, such as road traffic accidents. This technology offers an added level of certainty to the two-hour delivery windows.

Dave Walmsley, Palletways UK Managing Director, said: “We have been working around the clock for twelve months to make sure that our game changing ETA system is ready to improve the offer of our members, like SMA Pallets, to both the customers of today and the future.

“In addition to our award-winning archway scanning technology, Digital Information Hub and five regional hub depots, our road haulage members have access to cutting-edge tools which provide unrivalled customer service excellence for businesses across the UK needing a pallet freight delivery service.”

SMA Pallets is one of around 400 hundred members of Palletways’ European distribution network, all independent transport operators which share their resources to deliver small consignments of palletised freight to market more efficiently than before.

Notes to Editors

ETA in action – how does the system work?

Step One: The Palletways customer books a consignment;

Step Two: Consignment is collected and transported via a Palletways Hub to the delivery depot. At each stage of the process, delivery notifications are available;

Step three: Upon leaving the delivery depot the notification is sent to the consumer via SMS/ email advising the two-hour delivery window.

About Palletways

Key Palletways stats:

  • Palletways was founded in the UK in 1994
  • In total Palletways handles up to 40,000 pallets daily, including more than 23,000 pallets a day in the UK, 10,000 in Italy and 3,000 in Iberia.
  • One in every four pallets handled by palletised freight networks in the UK is distributed by Palletways
  • During a typical operating day Palletways handles more than one pallet every second.


The Palletways Group:

  • Palletways provides an express delivery solution for consignments of palletised freight, and is the leading dedicated pallet network in Europe. The Palletways network operates more depots and handles greater volumes of pallets than any other similar network.
  • Over the past 23 years Palletways has developed a strategic network of more than 400 depots and 17 hubs. It now provides collection and distribution services across 20 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Spain, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.
  • In the UK Palletways has a national hub in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and regional hubs in London, Leeds, Edinburgh and Bristol. It offers a range of express distribution services for consignments of palletised freight across the UK. These include next day, next day AM, timed delivery options, and Economy 2/3 day.
  • The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark are served via a hub operation in Nijmegen.
  • In Germany the Palletways hub operation is in Knullwald (near Kassel).
  • In Italy the national hub is in Bologna with regional hubs in Naples and Milan.
  • The Iberian national hub, serving Spain and Portugal, is in Madrid with regional hubs in Zaragoza and Jaen.
  • Collection and distribution services in France are provided via a subcontracted operation, with three hubs in Paris, Lyon and Montpellier.
  • Palletways Europe GmbH, based in Switzerland, was set up in 2006 to develop pan-European collection and distribution services
  • Palletways Poland is served by a national hub in Łódź.
  • Supporting all the networks is Palletways award winning technology including its unique archway scanning system which captures a photographic image of every pallet which passes through its hubs combined with automated scanning to provide seamless track and trace. Palletways’ Digital Information Hub, a custom developed communications platform provides real time data linking all operations across Europe monitoring all consignments providing total visibility and security of every pallet throughout the whole distribution process to all European destinations.
  • For more information, visit:


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Latest of many awards

SMA Pallets Ltd is delighted to announce that Palletways won the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Award for Operational Excellence 2015 which was presented at an awards dinner at the Lancaster London hotel in October, in the presence of the Princess Royal, the CILT patron. Our entry was based on our Vision 20:20 strategy, covering all aspects of our operation.


Our success in these awards reflects positively on the company and reinforces our market leading position. It endorses the decision of our existing customers to use us, attracts those who don’t yet use us and enhances our reputation with all stakeholders. We are proud to share the news of our success with our clients.


“As a Platinum Member of Palletways, SMA Pallets Ltd’s KPIs contributed strongly to secure such a prestigious award.” said Selva Pardeep, Operations Manager at SMA Pallets Ltd.



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The Future Growth Plan

Palletways delivers to 20 European destinations, which is more than any other pallet distributor, and the network consists of 400 depots across Europe of which more than 100 are in the UK.

The Palletways Group’s plans for growth are linked to key developments it has unveiled, which include:

  • A new central hub in Lichfield, which will be fully operational with immediate effect after a successful pilot phase. Situated just 500m from its existing central hub facility, the new facility will increase capacity by 8,000 pallets per day and enable faster turnaround of customers’ goods for onward distribution to their delivery destinations. The site comprises 11,500 square metres of warehouse and sortation space, 750 square metres of office space and a trailer park with capacity for 300 trailers.
  • The extension of its regional operations in London, Oxford and Scotland increasing their capacity by 40%.
  • Within the last 18 months the company has already established a new regional hub in Milan for Northern Italy, a brand new, larger hub in Nijmegen, Holland plus a new Palletways Fulfilment warehouse in the same location to service Benelux and the Ruhr Valley, an extension of their Iberian hub in Alcala de Henares, Madrid plus an extension of their Italian hub in Bologna, Italy.
  • New planned hub facilities in central Germany (Homberg), Southern France (Lyon and Montpelier) and Eastern Europe (location tbc) within the next few months.


  • The extension of the group’s distribution network into the Nordic countries. This will further build on the company’s geographical footprint, following recent expansion into Poland and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in June and Bulgaria and Romania in August.
  • The continued roll-out of the group’s award-winning Digital Information Hub across its networks in Europe. The web-based platform, which was launched in the UK last year, optimises the use of real time data to provide greater operational efficiencies by reducing downtime on telephone calls, increasing vehicle utilisation and enhancing traffic management. It also takes customer service to even higher levels by speeding up the resolution of any distribution issues to ensure deliveries on time, providing real time visibility of consignments and presenting new business opportunities for users of the company’s services based on their current distribution profiles.
  • The introduction of a new online booking facility for customers.

These developments follow the group’s best year to date for volumes handled across its European network, with a current average of 33,000 pallets being delivered every day. This represents an increase of some 12% compared to the previous 12 months.

This year the Palletways group will process more than 8 million pallets with daily averages of 36,000 pallets and seasonal peaks exceeding 40,000 pallets. As the largest and most mature business the UK will handle 60% of these volumes.

“This is an exciting time for our network as we continue to expand, reinforcing our market leadership, our reputation for service excellence and our pan-European capabilities in support our customers’ growth ambitions,” said Luis Zubialde, Managing Director at Palletways UK.

“Our growth into new markets has been supported by our significant and continuous investment in new infrastructure in the UK and abroad and the development of improved communications technology to extend the reach of the business and drive efficiency and performance. We will continue to build on these solid foundations over the coming 12 months.”

“We are already the market leader in terms of both service and volume, our European activity now represents 40% of our overall volumes which is more than the total UK and European volume of any other competitor in the UK. This confirms our group strategy “

Palletways’ Operations Director Mike Harrison added: “Our investment in new infrastructure is a core component of our growth plans.

“The introduction of the new Terminal 2 in Lichfield, together with plans for new facilities in Europe, will provide significantly more capacity and business opportunities for our network.

The seamless introduction of this new facility has increased our members’ efficiency by extending their window of operational opportunity through later collection times and earlier departures.

“As we expand, our investment in these core components will play an essential part in ensuring that we continue to deliver our high standards of service excellence for all our customers.”

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