How Do Pallet Networks Work?
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 | View all Blogs

For thousands of people, pallet networks are what keeps their business on the straight and narrow. Some would even go as far as to say that pallets and pallet networks are their unsung heroes. Where would we be without them? Right?

But not everyone who sends pallets is familiar with how pallet distribution networks operate, and those that are new to the process definitely won't know the ins and outs of pallet networks for that matter.

For this reason, we have put together everything you need to know about logistics companies and how their pallet networks work. In this article, you will (hopefully) find all the answers to the questions you have been asking!

What is a Pallet Network?

In its simplest form, a pallet network is made up of groups of professional hauliers that work together as either members, shareholders or licensees. All of which provide cost-effective delivery services for those looking to distribute items far and wide.

Image of white trucks parked next to each other

In every pallet network, hauliers work locally to collect pallets and bring them back to their depots. From there, any pallets that are due to be delivered outside of the haulier's area loaded onto delivery vehicles and transported to the appropriate networks' national hub.

At the hub, the delivery vehicles are unloaded and the pallets are sorted and transferred onto other vehicles ready to reach the haulier in the area the pallets are going to be delivered.

Once at the haulier's depot, all pallets are then ready for delivery. The haulier will then work locally and allocate their drivers to drop the pallets off at the correct delivery location.

What Are the Benefits Of Using a Pallet Network?

Moving pallets via a pallet network allows customers to benefit from economies of scale in transport, without needing to invest in all the equipment and IT.

image of blue forklift loading a pallet onto a trailer

Plus, pallet networks offer next day delivery to nearly all locations in the UK. Some offer weekend and Bank Holiday delivery as well. Essentially, customers have access to all the latest track and trace technology for peace of mind that their pallets are safe.

Reputable pallet networks, like Palletline, are renowned for providing the highest levels of customer service in the industry.

Pallet Networks - What Are Pallets?

The first thing is first, you need to know what pallets are before you sign yourself up to ship things. After all, if you have no idea what pallets are, how will you know what they look like?

Pallets are essentially just large wooden structures designed for the safe and secure transport of goods. Thousands of business and non-business owners use pallets to send a wide variety of items, but before handing them over to their chosen pallet courier, said items need to be loaded, wrapped and secured.

There are two main types of pallets used in logistics throughout the country: stringer and block pallets.

a stack of wooden pallets

On the one hand, stringer pallets are considered two-way entry pallets and are not as often used by pallet couriers. Essentially, stringer pallets can be accessed on either of just two sides by a forklift - this usually creates more work for couriers, which is the reason they're not as popular.

While on the flip side, block pallets are four-way access pallets. This means it's much easier for forklifts to approach and lift the pallet ready to load and unload. You can get to them on any of their four sides!

Moreover, all pallets are made of either standard wood or moulded wood, but your choice depends mostly on what you are shipping and what the courier recommends using.

Most people tend to use standard wood pallets for shipments of fruit and veggies, or generally smaller and lighter items. While moulded wood pallets are designed to hold much more weight (up to 1,000 kilograms to be precise!) and are naturally more versatile than standard pallets.

Without a pallet, your items will not be accepted by any pallet courier. The whole idea of a pallet delivery service is that your items can be shipped securely and safely via pallets, with a licensed courier.

If pallets weren't an option, those who rely on distributing large numbers of items would struggle. More importantly, they would have to go through the trouble of finding another cost-effective means of transporting their items - thank heavens for pallet couriers, right?!

About Pallet Sizes

As it stands, pallets come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes to accommodate the number of items you wish to send at any one time. But, nearly all UK pallet couriers use standard pallets. These measure 1.2 metres by 1 metre - the only real difference is the height allowance.

image of palletonline pallet sizes

This is where pallet sizes come into play. Couriers use the term 'pallet size' when talking about the different weights and heights allowed through their network - don't let this throw you off!

For example, there are quarter, half, full and oversized pallets. If you like, you can think of them as small, medium, large and larger than large pallets. But again, the pallet itself remains the same for all of those; only the height and weight changes when you increase the pallet size.

Regardless, you must take the time to fully establish which pallet size is right for your items. By that, we mean deciding whether your goods are small enough to be loaded onto a quarter pallet, or if they are too tall and heavy and need to be secured to a full pallet instead.

At PalletOnline, we recommend using standard wooden pallets (1.2m x 1m is the requirement for all pallet deliveries) and referring to our online pallet size guide. Doing this will help ensure you have selected the correct pallet size for your items the first time, but also, to avoid any additional charges as a result of pallet overhang.

Whether it's 1 centimetre or 1 metre, an overhang is an overhang and your pallet will be refused. If your items exceed only the maximum width or length stated on our pallet size guide, you will need to book 2 full pallet spaces in the checkout to ensure there is no overhang.

If your items exceed both the width and length, then you would need to book four 4 pallets in the checkout. Additional full pallet spaces accommodate oversized items, but if you are unsure of how many you need to book, you must get in touch with us immediately.

Which Size Pallet Do You Need?

Figuring out which pallet size you need for your items is much easier said than done at times, particularly if your items are of an awkward shape. Plus, if you aren't a huge fan of maths, working out the dimensions of your items and the pallet can be confusing.

Thankfully, we have a simple online pallet size guide that you can refer to when trying to make the best and right decision for the safety of your items. You must include both the pallet and your items when measuring up.

Measure from the base of the pallet to the top of your items. This will be the height of your pallet delivery. You can use this number, along with the weight, length and width, to work out whether your items will fit on a quarter pallet. You may find that a half or full pallet is the better option.

If you struggle to work out the right size, never just take a guess and go with what sounds right. Without a doubt, you should always ask the courier for advice as they know the limitations like the back of their hand.

Not to mention, an experienced pallet courier will always recommend using a pallet that is slightly larger than the goods you wish to send as this will help prevent them from getting damaged.

For example, if you are planning to ship around 10 lightweight fleece blankets, it would be better to ship them (dependent on the measurements) on a quarter pallet. This will ensure there is plenty of room for your boxes without any overhang, and no room for movement during transit.

While if you were looking to ship a spare tyre, again depending on the dimensions, it would be safer to select either a full pallet or two full pallet spaces to fully minimise the risk of damage in transit.

There is no shame in asking if you are ever unsure of which pallet you need. There are plenty of people out there who can advise you on which size pallet you need based on the items you wish to send. And remember, you can always check with us!

How Do Pallet Deliveries Work?

For thousands of UK pallet networks, there's a certain process that they have to follow. Not only does this make it easier for them to collect and deliver your goods on time, but also ensures that everything arrives safely and in pristine condition.

The process of sending a pallet begins with you. To start with, you must select a reputable pallet courier that you know you can trust and arrange for them to come and pick up your items - remember, these must be secured to a pallet, no matter what you are sending!

person wrapping items to pallet

Once you have chosen the collection date, you can then confirm a delivery date, relax and let the courier do all the hard work for you. That's the glory of pallet networks and some even offer a range of services that take all the hassle out of shipping pallets, all at cost-effective rates as well!

For peace of mind, there is some level of communication between you and the pallet courier before collection and delivery take place. They will normally let you know when they are en route or inform you of the whereabouts of your goods at each point of the journey.

Transport Hubs in Strategic Points Throughout The Country

Most of the time, experts in pallet transport open hubs in major cities throughout the country to make life easier for pallet couriers and those looking to send a pallet delivery. Plus, hubs located in strategic points (busy cities like Manchester, Birmingham, London etc.) usually bring cheaper shipping rates for those who live or operate their business near to those hubs.

Let's say, for example, there's a company that needs to deliver a pallet of wooden picture frames to one of their customers who lives in London. However, distance is proving to be an issue and the company is not able to deliver themselves as they are based in Liverpool - this is where a pallet distribution network comes in handy!

This company then calls on the best pallet courier they can find and they agree to collect the goods before heading back to the depot. At the depot, the courier then decides that delivering the pallet from that location is not ideal but luckily, they have a hub in Birmingham which is roughly halfway to the customer who is expecting their pallet load of frames.

Essentially, the pallet is sent from the depot to the hub in Birmingham, then a driver is assigned to drop the pallet of frames to the customer in London while keeping to their strict schedule. So, you get the idea of how pallet networks work, right?

Do I Need To Use a Pallet Distribution Network?

If you are planning on shipping a large number of goods, then you are more likely to need to use a pallet distribution network to do this quickly, safely and more affordably, too.

However, the question of whether you need to use a pallet distribution network is one that only you can answer for yourself. If you understand all the ins and outs (the basics), then the solution should be obvious.

In most cases, pallet deliveries are suitable if you tick any of the following boxes:

  • You have between 1 and 5 pallets of items to deliver
  • You need to deliver bulky or heavy goods
  • You are responsible for shipping regular quantities
  • You are planning on delivering fragile items
  • You need fast, reliable and economical shipping

Hundreds, if not, thousands of businesses decide to send all manner of items on pallets these days. With this in mind, there are some items that you are simply not allowed to ship via pallet distribution networks, so we recommend checking for any network restrictions with your chosen courier.

Doing your homework on relevant network restrictions will help you avoid refused collections and deliveries, but also prevent any unnecessary issues and complications further down the line.

The Perfect Location – Green Efficiency

As nearly all pallet networks are centrally located within the Midlands, the location provides fantastic transport links to the rest of the UK. This minimises the number of road miles travelled by delivery drivers, helping to maintain green efficiency and a low carbon footprint!

At the same time, network members run in sync with one another and the hub to guarantee high efficiency, whilst maintaining high service levels.

About The Palletline Network

The Palletline network comes with plenty of benefits that are great for their customers. By selecting a pallet courier that is partnered with Palletline, you will always be certain that your pallets are in safe hands and on the right track.

Thanks to the Palletline network, you will not have to deal with multiple delivery companies to get your pallet to where it needs to be, given the multitude of hubs and depots across the country.

With over 96 depots in the network, we are poised to tackle your freight wherever you may be. As the most reliable network in the country, more than six thousand vehicles handle roughly 3.5 million pallets every single year – all of them with a total damage rate of just 0.01%.

For FBA sellers, the Palletline network have also got you covered! Palletline are the only network selected for Amazon's IPCP (Inbound Preferred Carrier Programme) meaning you will have less to deal with in regards to admin and late fees.

The Palletline network can also deliver your goods to over 29 European countries, making it much easier for you to engage in international shipping and selling.

For more details about sending a pallet delivery, or if you have any concerns regarding a recent booking, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Either give us a call or send a message via our Live Chat service.

Our friendly customer care team are available from Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm. If you would like more information about the Palletline network or PalletOnline, please visit our Help Centre.

Questions & Answers

When a pallet delivery is booked, the collecting depot near where the goods are will be notified of the collection. After pickup, they'll then send them to a central hub to be sorted, quality-checked and then loaded onto the delivery vehicle, which will then transport them to their final delivery destination.

Pallets are large wooden platforms designed for the safe and secure transport of large or heavy goods. Thousands of business and non-business owners use pallets to send a wide variety of items every day, but before handing them over to their chosen pallet courier, they need to be loaded, wrapped and secured.

There are many benefits to using a pallet network, but the main ones are speed, convenience and reliability. As networks like Palletline have many depots across the country, you're never too far away from a courier that can collect your goods quickly.