Pallet Track Limited is the UK’s fastest growing overnight palletized freight distribution network. They offer its membership a fully structured service, second to none across the freight industry with an extensive service portfolio including Next Day and Economy delivery. Every member has the ability to view in real-time all forecasted and current consignment information through Pallet Track’s web-based IT infrastructure. All goods are scanned at the collection depot, the central hub and again at the delivering depot. Members and customers are able to view the current status of their consignments along with completed proof of delivery information online through secure web hosting.
“We pride ourselves on providing the best possible materials handling and IT systems to support our staff and maintain our record of having the lowest damage rate in the industry.”
-Mac Babb, IT Manager Pallet Track
This online consignment entry system has delivered significant benefits and vastly reduced the administration burden during the busy end of day process. Clients are now able to place their consignments directly onto the local depot’s system and in so doing create a reference for them to revisit the status and eventual delivery information of their goods. Pallet Track has never lost a single item and to date has handled over four and a half million pallets of freight.
“One of our benefits is our IT. We provide transparency so we can track and trace all pallets from the customer through the hub and into every delivery destination,” explains Chris Comerford, corporate sales manager, Pallet Track.
The company has won numerous awards for its innovation and customer care, including the Black Country Award for the Best Use of Digital Technology in the area. Pallet Track prides itself in the strategic planned growth the company and its constant monitoring of its control processes ensure it can cater to the increasing demand in freight volumes – a five-fold increase over the last five years.
To meet this dynamic growth in freight volumes, Pallet Track decided to relocate its main centre of operations from its existing 120,000 sq ft facility to a new 267,000 sq ft site, The Titan Distribution Centre in Wolverhampton. The new location was selected to offer Pallet Track members an unparalleled level of service. It is specially equipped to cater to the rapidly increasing volumes of freight, every item of which is electronically scanned, tracked and shipped by state-of-the-art materials handling equipment and a highly professional management team.
In the old location the Pallet Track team had used barcodes and Motorola RF scanners providing data which ran on a small Cisco Systems 802.11b WLAN. This worked because in the previous premises the trucks remained outside and packages were brought inside to be scanned then returned to the vehicles.
However, at The Titan Distribution Centre, trucks packed with pallets roll in and out all day long, potentially blocking wireless signals. Pallet Track needed an innovative WLAN design that would work around these moving obstructions.
Mac Babb, IT Manager Pallet Track said: “The warehouse itself has very high ceiling spaces, steel cut walls, thick concrete walls into the office space and an RF footprint throughout. We also couldn’t have equipment in any space where it could potentially be damaged by the trucks. Our previous Cisco network wouldn’t have been sufficient in the new space even if we’d added more access points so we knew we needed an entirely new system.”
To support this hard-working infrastructure, Pallet Track worked with Trapeze Networks and its local partner to create a resilient and secure wireless infrastructure to support the business. The Trapeze partner team conducted a full RF site survey of the new premises and designed the wireless network using Trapeze Networks’ RingMaster software. The award-winning RingMaster management suite made the planned deployment of mobility points possible as it can import 3-dimensional models of buildings and consider RF characteristics for a range of building structures to accurately determine the correct number and location of mobility points.
The team installed a Trapeze MX-200R Mobility Exchange controller which provides intelligent wireless LAN switching and supports the most demanding wireless applications indoors and outdoors, including voice over WLAN. Already 802.11n-ready, the MX-200R supports up to 192 access points and comes with redundant power supply as standard.
Sixteen Trapeze Networks mobility points were installed throughout the Titan site – 14 in the warehouse situated above the height of the moving vehicles and another two in the offices. Trapeze Networks then delivered a creative antenna design.
Babbs explains: “The way the mobility points and antennas are formed, they are designed to spread the signal horizontally as opposed to other systems where the signal is sent vertically – which would have been useless for us. In other systems you have to imagine a mobility point meeting a signal in a spherical pattern, here we have a donut-shaped pattern that spreads the signal out wider. It’s really proved ideal for us. We were also impressed that each mobility point is individually managed by the MX-200R Mobility Exchange controller.”
Trapeze Networks’ SmartPass software was installed to provide safe and secure guest internet access. SmartPass gives full control over client access to the Wi-Fi network and the Pallet Track team can fine tune access and authorization over the WLAN for both staff users and guests. SmartPass not only allows Pallet Track management to permit or deny access it also enables them to quickly change which resources a user has access to in real-time.
Pallet Track’s warehouse staff use handheld terminals which ensure that they are able to handle the pallet in real-time, sorting over the network via a mobile handheld computer. Additional terminals at Pallet Track’s member companies scan pallets from deliveries to confirm that the correct number have been received and accounted for.
Babb concludes: “We pride ourselves on providing the best possible materials handling and IT systems to support our staff and maintain our record of having the lowest damage rate in the industry. We now transact an average of 5,000 pallets per night for our members and our Trapeze Network means we have transparent accountability, traceability and accurate control of goods anytime, anywhere, which affords us real business benefits.”
Managing output Xerox's James Joyce outlines the key elements of a successful managed print services strategy.
Virtual Reality Datalink's Kent Christensen reveals to Business Management how a virtualized data center can revolutionize your business.
Security Board: The World of Board Portals Joe Ruck explains why a secure and stable board portal is important for today's business leaders.