Italian pallet network continuing to expand in every corner

The OneExpress pallet network is celebrating double-digit annual growth figures.

The secret of a well-performing pallet network’s success is having reliable partners – that much is clear for Matteo Ravazzin, the Director of international services at the Italian firm OneExpress. “We’ve made it our mission to ensure that our members are satisfied, and share into our growth,” he said, explaining the company’s philosophy.

The strategy appears to be working. OneExpress was launched in January 2008, and transported approximately 1,000 pallets in its first night of operation. Today, just seven years later, the daily volume already amounts to around 7,000 pallets. OneExpress currently has about 110 members, who are connected to the network as franchises.  “We therefore operate in every corner of Italy, even in the south of the country, where many of our competitors are struggling to provide good services, due to the lack of volumes” said Ravazzin.

OneExpress is also a member of the Allnet European network, meaning that, in addition to Italy, it also covers France, Germany and the United Kingdom through its partners. Furthermore, the organisation has been collaborating with other networks and many international forwarders and customers since 2011.

The partners operate according to the hub-and-spoke principle. In other words, there is a central hub in every country, into which members from the various national regions feed loads and deliver shipments for other participants in their area.

Hub and spokes make for efficiency

OneExpress has also adapted the hub-and-spoke principle in Italy, of course. “Ideally, a pallet network operates by means of one centrally-located hub” explained Ravazzin. “In Italy, however, this makes no sense, because the country is so long and thin.”

The company therefore started operating with two different hubs, one located in Bologna and one in Naples. Later, they were joined by more hubs in Rome and Milan. Since the north of Italy creates most of the country’s economic output, it was obvious that the firm should have a presence there. Its members in the region are connected to both the Milan and Bologna hubs.

“Bologna and Milan handle the most volumes” according to Ravazzin, which means that these locations reached their capacity limits relatively quickly.

When OneExpress started up in Bologna in 2008, the business was operated from a comparatively modest area of just 6,500 sqm. It has subsequently doubled its capacity and has been using new facilities with a total area of approximately 12,000 sqm since the beginning of the year. And its Milan centre has also recently been extended to 17,000 sqm.

Small consignments make the network more attractive.

According to Ravazzin, there are a number of reasons why the network has been able to develop so positively over recent years, despite the economic crisis in Italy.  “First of all, the quantities that are loaded are becoming smaller. Previously, a consignment often contained 10 pallets, for example, which was a transport job in itself. Today, there are sometimes only one or two pallets, and a network obviously lends itself to such sizes.”

At the start of the downturn, a lot of transport companies therefore came knocking at the door of OneExpress, as they felt they would be better able to withstand the difficult economic situation as part of a network, rather than on their own. “And this prediction has come true,” the director emphasises. Many members have even registered growth during recent years, which in turn has a positive impact on the network and therefore also on other members.

Ravazzin has great plans for the coming year. “We’d like to make significant progress towards our objective of transporting 10,000 pallets a night by 2016”. OneExpress has certainly created the ideal conditions for this, with its new hubs in Bologna and Milan.

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