Packaging Corner: The container inquisition

Answer these 10 questions to find the best fit for your operation.

By ·

It might appear that Ken Beckerman, president of Flexcon Container, is in the business of selling reusable plastic totes and bins. But it turns out that he’s really a detective. That’s because when someone calls about buying a box, he and his sales team ask questions: no fewer than 10, in fact.

“It’s important to ask a lot of questions to narrow the problem into a solution. We try to get intimate knowledge of the system that the container is going to be running on and what the container needs to do so we can offer options to fit an application perfectly,” Beckerman says. In addition to an option that meets the caller’s specs, alternatives might be for containers that are less expensive, more durable, lighter weight (for more content capacity) or save space in the system.

This question list includes:
1. What will the container do on a typical day?
2. Will the container leave your facility?
3. How does the container move through the facility?
4. If the container rides on a conveyor, what type? Which brand? Are there sensors or gates? Are there inclines or declines?
5. How much weight goes in the container?
6. Will the containers go in a freezer or an autoclave sanitization process, or remain at room temperature?
7. Is this a temporary solution or a long-term investment?
8. What other reusable container systems have you seen that you like?
9. When do you need the containers?
10. What is your budget?

Those last two questions are often the most important, Beckerman says. A rush delivery requirement may limit options to what’s in stock. Used or overstock containers might fit tight budgets better than new. And, companies looking to automate should consider the container in parallel with the system’s development.

“As a container guy, I’m definitely the last thing they think of, but I’ve worked through that,” he quips. “There are so many standard totes and containers today, it’s easier to supply the perfect size container than it was even 10 years ago. There’s no such thing as a custom container anymore; it’s very easy to pull standard size tooling from the warehouse and make the tote that fits a need, and in a low minimum quantity to make it affordable—just 250 to 500 units.”

Read more Packaging Corner columns.
Read more from the Pallet Report.


About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Running Your Supply Chain with Greater Efficiency
Is your company’s supply chain piled high with more products, suppliers, and trading partners than you can keep track of efficiently?
Download Today!
From the January 2017 Issue
Following LM tradition, we start off the New Year with our annual “Rate Outlook” cover story and subsequent Webcast
Moore on Pricing: The other TMS functional options
2017 Rate Outlook: Where are freight transportation rates headed?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2017 Rate Outlook: Where are freight transportation rates headed?
Join our panel of top oil and transportation analysts for an exclusive look at where rates are headed and the issues driving those rate increases over the coming year.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...
Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...

Making the TMS Decision: Ariens Finds Just the Right Fit
The third time is the charm for this U.S. manufacturer on the hunt for a third-party logistics (3PL)...
Motor Carrier Regulations Update: Caught in a Trap
The fed is hitting truckers with a barrage of costly regulations in an era of scant profits....