Pallets, containers and dunnage designed for re-use within a supply chain. They are constructed for multiple trips and extended life. Due to their reusable nature, they offer a rapid return on investment and a lower cost-per-trip than single use packaging products. Reusable pallets, hand-held containers, bulk containers and dunnage are used for the efficient storage, handling and distribution of products throughout the supply chain.
How is reusable packaging typically used?
- Inbound shipments
- Outbound shipments
How Does Reusable Packaging Differ from Recycling?
Reusable packaging is pallets, containers, and other items that are used multiple times in the supply chain for the same purpose, e.g. moving product from manufacturing to retail. Transport packaging must meet four requirements to be considered “reusable” by the RPA:
- The selected reusable packaging is reused for the same or similar application
- The packaging must be able to meet the original design requirements for three consecutive uses (i.e. two reuses).
- During its useful life, the packaging is repeatedly recovered, inspected, repaired, and reissued into the supply chain for reuse.
- There is an existing process for recycling and/or reuse of the packaging at end-of-life.
Recycling is the act of turning waste material into useful products or resources: grinding old tires into soft landing beds at playgrounds, for example. Recycling and reusing both contribute to a healthier environment. However, the RPA’s mission is limited to promoting the environmental, safety, and economic benefits of reusable packaging.
What are the economic, social and environmental benefits of reusable packaging?
- Reduces overall packaging costs
- Rapid Return on Investment (ROI)
- Reduces costly product damage
- Reduces labor costs
- Reduces inventory, requires less space
- Reduced cost-per-trip
- Improves workplace safety
- Improves workplace efficiency
- Improves transportation efficiency, resulting in fewer trips and reduced fuel costs
- Prevents waste from entering the solid waste stream Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- Supports source reduction
- Requires less energy
What industries use reusable packaging?
When does reusable packaging make sense?
A systematic, well-planned reusable packaging program makes sense for many types of applications, particularly those with the following:
- High volumes of solid waste
- Frequent shrinkage or product damage
- Expensive expendable packaging or recurring single-use packaging costs
- Underutilized trailer space in transportation
- Inefficient storage/warehouse space
- Worker safety or ergonomic issues
- Significant need for cleanliness/hygiene
- Need for unitization
- Frequent trips
Material handling is the movement, protection, storage and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption and disposal. As a process, material handling incorporates a wide range of manual, semi-automated and automated equipment and systems that support logistics and make the supply chain work. Their application helps with:
- Resource allocation
- Production planning
- Flow and process management
- Inventory management and control
- Customer delivery
- After-sales support and service
A company’s material handling system and processes are put in place to improve customer service, reduce inventory, shorten delivery time, and lower overall handling costs in manufacturing, distribution and transportation.
How Is Material Handling Equipment Used?
There is a variety of manual, semi-automated and automated material handling equipment and technologies available to aid in the movement, protection, storage and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal. These include:
- Automated storage and retrieval systems
- Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs)
- Automatic identification and data collection
- Casters and wheels
- Dock equipment
- Hoisting equipment
- Industrial robots
- Integrated material handling systems
- Item order fulfillment systems
- Lift trucks
- Monorails and workstation cranes
- Overhead cranes
- Protective guarding
Where is Material Handling Used?
Material handling systems are used in every industry, including:
- Consumer goods
- Materials processing
- Warehousing and distribution
When designing a material handling system, it is important to refer to best practices to ensure that all the equipment and processes—including manual, semi-automated and automated—in a facility work together as a unified, system. By analyzing the goals of the material handling process and aligning them to guidelines, a properly designed system will improve customer service, reduce inventory, shorten delivery time, and lower overall handling costs in manufacturing, distribution and transportation. These principles include:
- Planning: Define the needs, strategic performance objectives and functional specification of the proposed system and supporting technologies at the outset of the design. The plan should be developed in a team approach, with input from consultants, suppliers and end users, as well as from management, engineering, information systems, finance and operations.
- Standardization: All material handling methods, equipment, controls and software should be standardized and able to perform a range of tasks in a variety of operating conditions.
- Work: Material handling processes should be simplified by reducing, combining, shortening or eliminating unnecessary movement that will impede productivity. Examples include using gravity to assist in material movement, and employing straight-line movement as much as possible.
- Ergonomics: Work and working conditions should be adapted to support the abilities of a worker, reduce repetitive and strenuous manual labor, and emphasize safety.
- Unit load: Because less effort and work is required to move several individual items together as a single load (as opposed to moving many items one at a time), unit loads—such as pallets, containers or totes of items—should be used.
- Space utilization: To maximize efficient use of space within a facility, it is important to keep work areas organized and free of clutter, to maximize density in storage areas (without compromising accessibility and flexibility), and to utilize overhead space.
- System: Material movement and storage should be coordinated throughout all processes, from receiving, inspection, storage, production, assembly, packaging, unitizing and order selection, to shipping, transportation and the handling of returns.
- Environment: Energy use and potential environmental impact should be considered when designing the system, with reusability and recycling processes implemented when possible, as well as safe practices established for handling hazardous materials.
- Automation: To improve operational efficiency, responsiveness, consistency and predictability, automated material handling technologies should be deployed when possible and where they make sense to do so.
- Life cycle cost: For all equipment specified for the system, an analysis of life cycle costs should be conducted. Areas of consideration should include capital investment, installation, setup, programming, training, system testing, operation, maintenance and repair, reuse value and ultimate disposal.