While the use of reusable containers has been gaining traction in the past decade, most consumer goods are still shipped using this disposable packaging. “Disposable” cardboard boxes and wood pallets typically become part of a company’s solid waste stream after a single use, constructed of materials that can be landfilled or recycled. Even on the occasion that disposable packaging can be recycled, a regular disposal process for packaging materials must be incorporated in the lifecycle of the packaging and manufacturing process.
Using reusables can reduce – or even eliminate – the need to purchase disposable packaging. Reusables can be designed to be more durable than corrugated or other expendable packaging, improving the protection of the part or parts they contain, as well as extending their life as they move through the distribution system.
As the upfront investment required to deploy reusables is higher than remaining with disposable packaging, the implementation of a reusable container management system is recommended to ensure the best ROI. Reusable container management can improve efficiency and reduce capital expenditure by increasing visibility in the supply chain, which in turn gives managers the data needed to reduce transportation and production problems throughout their enterprise.
With the increased visibility enabling the collection of container movement data, you can answer the three most important questions to inform an efficient reusable container management program:
- How many reusables do you really need?
Capturing exact container demand across all locations in your supply chain based on historical data helps you make informed decisions when planning future shipments and purchasing reusable containers in reasonable quantities – not too many, and not too few.
- Where are your reusables?
Keeping track of location changes and status using unique container identification provides an overview of all accounts, enabling you to enforce liability throughout the chain of custody.
- How many reusables are available?
Knowing how many reusables in your supply chain are empty and available for use helps you make informed decisions on where to move them next, and to schedule efficient resupply routes.