Packaging Corner: The container inquisition

Answer these 10 questions to find the best fit for your operation.
By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large
February 01, 2012 - MMH Editorial

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

image
Sara Pearson Specter
Editor at Large

Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Logistics Management as an Editor at Large since 2001. Based in Cincinnati, Specter has worked in the fields of journalism, graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for 15 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky., with a bachelor’s degree in French and history.


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!

Recent Entries

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced August 2014 data for global air freight markets showing continued “robust”growth in air cargo volumes.

Even though some of its key metrics dropped sequentially from August to September, the outlook for manufacturing over all remains strong, according to the most recent edition of the Manufacturing Report on Business issued today by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

Company officials said that these planned changes, which will take effect on January 4, 2015, will provide for increases in current pay rates and reduce the time it takes for its nearly 15,000 drivers to reach top pay scale.

While the economy has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs in recent years, 2014 is different in that it could be the best year from an economic output perspective in the last several years. That outlook was offered up by Rosalyn Wilson, senior business analyst at Parsons, and author of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual State of Logistics Report at last week’s CSCMP Annual Conference in San Antonio.

Matching last week, the average price per gallon of diesel gasoline dropped 2.3 cents, bringing the average price per gallon to $3.755 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.