• Palmer & Harvey enters administration leaving 2,500 out of work before Christmas


The year was 1992. In the United States, Bill Clinton was elected president. In Europe, the Maastricht Treaty was signed, founding the European Union. Grey computers with small screens were having Windows 3.1 installed and the first email attachment was sent. Leeds United were champions of English football and the Premier league was formed.

It was also the year in which XPO Logistics won its first equipment management contract – a tray wash service agreement for a major retail client – and opened their first dedicated wash site. This was the start of what is now a reverse supply chain portfolio that covers four strategic services: industry-leading equipment cleaning, equipment control and the repair and rebuild of a wide range of equipment, as well as a comprehensive recycling offering.

For the most part, sustainability was not yet on the public radar in 1992. Today, sustainable development is seen as a key objective by the majority of manufacturers and retailers. XPO’s equipment management team has worked with hundreds of supermarket stores to introduce ‘zero waste to landfill’ (ZWTL) solutions, as well environmental improvements, hygiene certainty, stocking efficiency for retail stores, and improved supplier practices.

While the internet barely existed in 1992, XPO were developing their web-based asset tracking software for equipment management which has grown from servicing one client in 1992 to servicing multiple clients today. The software now manages over 700 supplier accounts and 242 million units are transacted annually, underpinned by an annual, global investment of $425 million in technology that drives innovations in transportation and logistics across the length of the supply chain. From receipt of goods to repackaging or recycling, XPO’s transparent web tracking gives customers a major competitive advantage in reverse logistics, a growing part of the supply chain.

The evolution of XPO’s equipment management offering in terms of volumes and capabilities has been immense. Today the business sanitises 340 million units of supply chain equipment annually, in line with increasingly stringent industry standards. Services include trailer washing and the repair and rebuilding of over two million pieces of equipment under contract, including roll cages, totes, trays, dollies and pallets, along with the recycling of 490,000 tonnes of waste packaging.

XPO embraces constant innovation. In the past 5 years alone, XPO has launched an improved design for crate wash machines that reduces downtime and increases wash speed by 20%; an automated baler design that increases efficiency and reduces power consumption by 30%; and the automation of food waste processing for a retail client.

XPO’s long-lasting and collaborative relationships with retailers such as Tesco and Asda have grown from one tray wash site in Harlow to 30 sites today, servicing multiple blue chip retailers and manufacturers across the UK and Ireland. The network is strategically located to offer customers sites that are within 90 minutes of anywhere in the UK or Ireland by road transport. A state-of-the-art reporting system allows for granular analysis of performance data, resulting in targeted regional reporting and intervention.

At these locations, XPO teams build, assemble and repair equipment, and perform professional inspections that ensure the suitability, safety and compliance of customer assets. Smartphone data is captured to pinpoint fault patterns and part failures in real time, triggering proactive repairs and component replacements. Flexible pricing options range from short-term transactional pricing to full maintenance packages.

XPO’s best-in-class innovation provides full visibility throughout the supply chain, using increasingly automated technology to move equipment on and off hire, track trays and other transit media, optimise stock holding and manage supplier accounts. These capabilities and more are tailored to meet individual customer requirements, such as multilingual functionality, accessibility and customised management reporting.

With a successful track record for the past quarter century, the equipment management division at XPO Logistics is firmly focused on continuing to develop solutions that will meet the needs of customers over the next 25 years.