The European Pallet Association e.V. (EPAL) will be organising the open Euro pallet exchange pool independently of the international railway association (UIC).
EPAL has been active as an international pallet organisation since 1995 and guarantees the traffic of goods by means of standardised and quality-assured pallets and box pallets – through its member associations in 18 European countries and more than 1,600 licensed companies around the world.
The production of EPAL Euro pallets has risen from 21 million in 1998 to more than 67m in 2012. The number of EPAL Euro pallets presently in circulation is over 450m. This constant growth in production figures documents the increasing national and international significance of the open pallet exchange pool.
In autumn 2012, following an international tender, EPAL commissioned the international audit company Bureau Veritas to oversee its quality assurance. By separating the organisation of the exchange pool (EPAL) from the planning and evaluation of technical controlling (Bureau Veritas), it aims to guarantee the autonomy of quality assurance.
Bureau Veritas has been conducting the unannounced quality controlling of EPAL-licensed production and repair operations since January 2013. In the 1st quarter of the year, EPAL’s licence holders of have to date produced more than 15 million EPAL Euro pallets under the quality control of Bureau Veritas.
In the past, the organisation of the open pallet pool by EPAL took place in cooperation with the UIC, although the latter played no operative role.
The UIC rejected the tender as well as the new assignment of the controlling contract – without citing grounds for doing so – and terminated cooperation with EPAL in December 2012 (for more information on this, please also see previous press release from EPAL dated 9th January, 2013).
EPAL subsequently attempted to agree the continuation of cooperation within the framework of a number of meetings with the individual member railways of the UIC, including DB Intermodal Services GmbH and SBB Cargo. Despite amicable discussions with DB Intermodal Services GmbH and SBB Cargo, the UIC rejected the opportunity to enter into negotiations with EPAL.
The board of EPAL, in which the nine European member associations of EPAL (B, CH, D, E, F, GB / IRL, I, NL, PL) are represented, therefore unanimously agreed – in a meeting on 16th April, 2013 – to cease all efforts to continue cooperation with the UIC for the foreseeable future. With effect from 1st August 2013, EPAL shall be solely and independently responsible for the organisation of the open Euro pallet exchange pool.
However, EPAL is expressly offering the UIC – and in particular the member railways of the UIC – the opportunity to continue with cooperation and to mutually further the success of the open Euro pallet exchange pool. For the participants of the exchange pool, the separation of EPAL and the UIC will result in no changes:
The production and repair of pallets and box pallets by the licence holders of EPAL shall continue to be subject to comprehensive quality controls by the independent controlling company commissioned by EPAL (Bureau Veritas). The conditions applicable to the exchangeability of the pallets and box pallets – uniform and standardised quality through independent quality assurance – are therefore also guaranteed in the future.
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