By Bob Jane, Business Development Manager, SSI Schaefer. The logistics industry is steering away from traditional attach lidded totes and heading towards collapsible container systems resulting in reduced space taken by returning empty containers to be cleaned and refilled.
One of the largest traders in the shoe industry has switched from using cardboard boxes to SSI Schaefer plastic containers. The Kienast Shoe Trading Group, with headquarters in Hanover is now using our plastic containers for redistributing shoes between their individual branches of the distribution channels.
When empty the containers can be folded flat to save space, but at the same time are robust and able to carry heavy loads even when stacked. In contrast to the costs of disposable packaging and re-usable containers are far more cost-effective as circulation frequency increases and costs get lower.
Kienast now has around 14,000 foldable and collapsible containers within its inter-branch logistics system. Compared with the cardboard boxes, which had to be brought in on a regular basis, the containers have given the company about a third more available space and reduced the risk of damaged goods. There is no longer the threat of cardboard boxes at the bottom collapsing under the weight of the stack.
The move towards returnable packaging is fuelled by many different factors:
· Reduction in the cost of fuel used in transit, resulting in the reduction of emissions and overall company carbon footprint.
· Reduction in consumable (primary) packaging reduces the costs of packaging and energy consumption in manufacture.
· Many companies are now adopting dedicated internal Bespoke Dunnage Systems to transport components and further reduce packaging, be that either: Vacuum Formed Trays, Hammock Systems, Foam or Simple Dividers.
· Some manufacturers are now offering containers made from a percentage of regrind material, which is now more widely available from raw material suppliers.
Technology is having a big impact within the transit packaging market. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is becoming more widespread with Marks & Spencer UK trialling RFID technology in its container pool. RFID is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. An RFID tag is an object that can be applied to or incorporated into a product for the purpose of identification using radiowaves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.
Today, RFID use is becoming widespread within supply chain management, improving overall control and management of inventory tracking. A fair cost-sharing mechanism, rational motives and justified returns from RFID technology investments are the key ingredients to achieving long-term and sustainable RFID technology adoption.