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Pallet Manufacturers Become Global Flood Fighting Service and Military Suppliers

Originally published 17 March 2003

A small Walsall pallet accessory manufacturer who were struggling to cut costs have been transformed almost overnight into to a global concern whose products are now being used to fight floods in the Midlands, are undergoing field trials by the British Army, and may now be on the point of being licensed for manufacture in Australia, South Africa and the Czech Republic.

Malcolm Russell, Director of Palletlegs Ltd in Walsall turned to the “Innovation Direct” advice service at the Universities of Warwick and Wolverhampton in order to try and trim costs of his interlocking pallet system (which is designed to form tables, benches or display shelves) as he thought that was the only way he could compete in the market.

The Innovation-Direct team were indeed able to reduce his costs by a staggering 43% but while they were at it they also suggested some simple manufacturing technology solutions that transformed the stackable pallet into a much more versatile product. The new product was snapped up by Shrewsbury County Council to help combating the sudden floods that have been bedevilling that region in recent times. They used it to create very effective temporary elevated footpaths and footbridges.

The new pallet system has proved so robust that it can be used to build light bridges capable of taking Land Rovers. The company’s pallet technology is now undergoing trials by the British army and Malcolm Russell is in negotiation with companies in Australia, South Africa, and the Czech republic who wish to manufacture the new pallet system under licence.

Innovation-Direct is a free consultancy service for SME manufacturing companies delivered by the Universities of Warwick and Wolverhampton. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund to support qualifying companies (SMEs in West Midlands Objective 2 area) by providing, free of charge, five or more days of support and advice on the technological and market place challenges those companies face in developing innovative new products.

In the first two years of its operation Innovation-Direct helped over 240 West Midland SMEs in the identification of new markets, development of new products, improvement of existing products and use of new materials and processes. It has funding to support another support 375 companies over the next 3 years. The service can be contacted on 024 76 572 505.

For further information contact:

Brian Miles, Innovation Direct
University of Warwick Tel: 024 76 573169

Malcolm Russell, Director, Palletlegs Ltd Tel: 01922 632 575