For many years now, our network has been proud to be able to say that we are the only pallet network to hold network-wide ISO standard accreditations for quality, health and safety, and environmental management.
As of this year, Pall-Ex now holds the most recent and revised ISO 9001 accreditation; the first pallet network to migrate across to the new, performance-focused standards across the whole of the network.
Richard Leedham, QHSE manager at Pall-Ex, took ownership of all aspects of the ISO and guided Pall-Ex through the transition process. Here, we talk to Richard about his time at Pall-Ex and his involvement with the ISO standards.
Everybody is committed to carrying out the highest standards of service at all levels of the business.”
How long have you worked at Pall-Ex?
I joined Pall-Ex in June 2014, and was originally appointed as the quality assurance manager. After that, I was promoted to assistant night operations manager and then hub improvement manager before taking on my current role as quality, health, safety and environmental (QHSE) manager.
You’ve really developed your career at Pall-Ex then! How long have you been in charge of handling the ISO? What sort of responsibility does it involve?
I’ve been handling the ISO since I became the QHSE manager at the hub; so since May 2017. I handle all aspects of the ISO, which means handling all accreditation: quality management, health and safety management and environmental management.
There’s a lot of different aspects of being in charge of making sure that, for each accreditation, ISO standards are met in order to maintain our accreditation. Part of that is ensuring that we as a network fulfil our company promise to be the leading network for quality.
Ensuring that we use root cause analysis to identify areas of lesser strength throughout the network, and making sure that we put corrective actions into place to allow us to improve on those areas is also a huge part of the role.
With the new ISO standard being a lot more performance-based than its predecessor, we have to make sure that we as a network are able to provide evidence of quality processes, environmentally conscious actions and corrective actions based on health and safety enhancements.
That sounds like a lot of work. What was the most difficult part of transitioning to the new standard?
I think the hardest part was guiding the business from just having that certificate on the wall to say we have the ISO accreditation, to being one that lives and breathes those standards throughout every nook and cranny of the network.
Luckily as a network that is united in its goal as being the number one pallet network throughout the UK, everybody - from our employees at the central hub through to the employees in each individual haulage company within our membership – is committed to carrying out the highest standards of service at all levels of the business. We satisfy the criteria of the new standard simply by doing what we do best.
Pall-Ex is the only network to have transitioned to the ISO 9001:2015 across the whole of its network. You were a huge part of that. How does that achievement feel?
The best part for me is that Pall-Ex not only hold the accreditation at the hub, but rather the entire network. Every single member nationwide that operates as part of our network is able to boast the accreditation as well; which is around 100 individual haulage companies.
It’s a really satisfying feeling that our members strive to set industry benchmarks in the same way that we at the hub do; and that each member is therefore able to grow and develop their customer base knowing that their customers can be confident that every member who handles their freight in our network holds the same values and customer-focused ethos.
It’s been quite a journey. What have you learned from the experience?
Not to do it again! I’ve learned that, by working as a team, our membership really can achieve anything. We took the ISO from a fragmentary requirement in June 2017 to an accomplished standard of excellence, which led to a full transition only seven months later.
That’s no easy feat, and every single person involved worked hard to get us there.
Gaining the ISO is just the beginning for you. What are your plans to SHINE in 2018?
It definitely is just the beginning. Although the ISO is such a fundamental aspect of the network, and is at the forefront of the business, it’s only a fraction of what I do.
In 2018 I’m setting my goals high. I’ll be putting a focus on environmental challenges and facing them head on. As an industry, we need to remain conscious of our impact on the environment and limiting that as much as possible. Each choice that we make, from purchasing new equipment to streamlining processes, needs to take into consideration our green credentials.
Health and safety within pallet networks is huge at the minute, and I’ll be working on developing and implementing innovative health and safety initiatives to make sure that Pall-Ex is not only the leading pallet network, but the safest as well.
I’ve learned that, by working as a team, our membership really can achieve anything.”