Internet of Things and Plastic Pallets – A Perfect Pairing?

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It’s too late to call the exterminators. By the time December 2018 arrives, the Earth will be crawling with over 11 billion “things” connected to the Internet, and there is no turning back. So is the time finally at hand for some of those IoT devices to be your pallets?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of devices to the Internet and each other. IoT items include everything from your smartphone, Apple watch and household appliances to manufacturing and transportation equipment. In industry, such sensors enable the capture of vast amounts of data. Such “Big Data” can help companies make more-informed business decisions.

The point of IoT isn’t about the sensors, of course; it’s about the insights they can provide. In warehouses, connected pallets and items will enable smarter inventory management. For freight operations, the tracking and tracing of goods “become faster, more accurate, predictive and secure while analytics of a connected fleet can help to predict asset failure and to schedule maintenance checks automatically,” noted a report from Cisco and DHL. Even in the last mile of delivery, the connection of delivery personnel, delivery vehicles and people is seen as a way of delivering faster, more reliable and more cost-effective delivery execution.

But what about IoT for pallets? Sensor-equipped pallets are predicted to become increasingly crucial in IoT enabled supply chains, according to Berg Insight. The consultancy believes that connected pallets rank as the most promising greenfield IoT opportunity, facilitated by low-cost LPWA (low power, wide area) cellular and noncellular technologies. Initially, Berg Insight believes that IoT will find traction in industries with high-value goods or with strict regulatory oversight.

Another attractive use case will relate to the more efficient management of proprietary and commercial pallet pools, a development which will make the use of plastic pallets increasingly profitable. First of all, because plastic pallets last much longer than timber pallets, the IoT cost on a per trip basis will be much lower for plastic.

At the same time, one of the leading concerns about investing in long-lasting plastic pallets has been the fear of pallet loss and the cost of replacement. No surprise, however, IoT-enabled pallets provide better visibility and accurate accounting of who exactly has the pallets. They are at trading partner B, C and D, and they need to be picked up. IoT in combination with the appropriate software can enable cost-effective pallet management and the elimination of their loss.

The relationship between IoT and plastic pallet adoption can go together like a crisp Chablis with vintage Cheddar. Plastic pallets will be more highly demanded to help reduce the cost of IoT hardware, and at the same time, IoT technology will boost pallet user confidence toward introducing them into their supply chains without fear of pallet loss. With the insights provided through increased visibility becoming increasingly valued, IoT and plastic pallets just might prove to be the perfect pairing for your supply chain.

Asda and D.E. Brand Trial Demonstrates the Benefits of “Cleanpal” for the Fresh Produce Supply Chain

Lightweight and durable plastic pallet delivers on sanitation, ergonomics and
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Polymer Logistics has completed a highly successful trial of its Cleanpal plastic pallet in the challenging fresh produce supply chain. Participating in the project were D.E. Brand, the family-owned Lincolnshire-based supplier of quality Brassica vegetables, as well as leading retailer ASDA. Cleanpal pallets were utilised for field palletisation and shipment to ASDA CDCs (central distribution centres) in Skelmersdale and Lutterworth. Products involved in the operation were broccoli and cabbage, with an average tray weight of 9kg.

As the fresh produce supply chain continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly sensitive to inefficiencies stemming from the use of wood pallets. Negatives such as water absorption, inconsistent weight, frequent damage, splinters and exposed nails underscore some of the nagging ergonomic, hygiene and handling issues associated with their use.

The trial was undertaken to demonstrate the efficacy of Cleanpal for the palletisation and seamless shipment of fresh produce. Several factors were evaluated, including

ease of forklift handling during loading and unloading, load stability in conjunction with plastic crates, as well as suitability for manual handling. The project allowed material handlers to experience how the plastic pallets, weighing just 15kg each, can be easily lifted and stacked manually as well as nested when empty to optimise space utilisation.

The Cleanpal trial proved to be a success in all regards. Harvest workers enjoyed the ease of pallet handling in the field, with no change required for pallet strapping requirements. There was absolutely no shifting or loss of palletised product in transit as load stability was enhanced by the use of interlocking trays. Forklift handling and pump truck manoeuvring was easily accomplished. Operators appreciated the easy fork entry, with the free underdeck providing a larger opening than found in wood pallets. From a health and safety perspective, ASDA remarked positively that trays of product could be easily slid from the pallet as per established best practice. This recommended approach is often not feasible with wood pallets, given their inconsistent surfaces and likelihood of exposed nail heads.

Adrian Dale, ‎Managing Director at Polymer Logistics (UK): “In today’s supply chain, speed, safety and reliable quality have become essential. Problems related to the use of wood pallets are increasingly coming under the microscope as retailers look to take their operations to the next level. This trial demonstrates how Cleanpal delivers in every category to improve the fresh produce experience”.

 

Polymer Logistics Makes a Stand for Improved Customer Experience and Merchandising Promotional Flexibility

New generation of merchandising display stands are lightweight, easy to assemble and disassemble and include a hidden storage space for crates and merchandise.

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Polymer Logistics’ culture of innovation continues. Following the success of its Wood Look Stand and RPC merchandising systems – selected worldwide by retailers including Tesco, Carrefour, Walmart and more – the company has introduced its lightweight, easy to assemble version of the popular Wood Look Stand.

The motivation for creating the new stand stemmed from a desire by retailers. They asked for a wood look stand that would be very simple to assemble for seasonal fruit and vegetable displays. As it turned out, the flexible display stand is ideal for a wide variety of temporary merchandise promotions in addition to fresh produce. Aside from ease of use, the new stand has another significant advantage. It is hollow inside, which allows the retailer to store any crates inside of the stand itself, without interfering the wood look appearance.

When not required, the new Wood Look Stand can be quickly disassembled. Once taken apart, storage requirements are minimal.

The next generation stands are offered with a flat cover or a pyramid cover for a spillover presentation of fruits and vegetables. A tilted plinth display is another option, similar to the existing Wood Look Stand. This feature allows easier access to the back row of the crates for both stockers and customers.

The new wood look stands are available in several colours, including white, green, black and brown.

Adrian Dale, Polymer Logistics MD for the UK, said: “While the Wood Look Stand has been enthusiastically received by major retailers around the world, our continued success depends on our ongoing dialogue with customers, and mutually exploring opportunities for improvement. The next generation Wood Look Stand is a result of those conversations. Like the original, it provides a superior shopping experience, with added benefits of ease of use and additional storage.”

Cleanpal Delivers Supply Chain Savings for FreshLinc

Cleanpal plastic pallets from Polymer Logistics provide a suite of savings, including the elimination of product damage, reduced weight in transport, as well as improved hygiene, cube utilisation, ergonomics and pallet life

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FreshLinc specialises in the total supply chain management of temperature controlled fresh, chilled and horticultural products. It is a leading service provider throughout the UK and Europe to retailers, producers and importers. Its modern fleet and facilities allow it to deliver cost-effective and customer-driven solutions to meet the needs of its unique clients.

From telematics to digital driver safety monitoring, the company has a reputation for its willingness to deploy new technologies, which promote productivity and safety. One area where FreshLinc has quietly embraced a new technology towards improving operational performance, quality and worker safety has been in the introduction of the Cleanpal plastic pallet from Polymer Logistics. At only 15kg, the hygienic Cleanpal can be readily picked up by one worker, rather than the two employees recommended for handling a heavier wood pallet. The plastic pallet construction eliminates the risk of cuts from exposed nails or bacteria-laden wood splinters, which also pose a physical contamination risk. The reduced debris from the plastic pallet means less time is spent cleaning the warehouse and trailer floors, thus increasing productivity.

The company is also benefitting from reduced product damage thanks to the use of its interlocking tray system in combination with Cleanpal. The system has eliminated the overhang of merchandise beyond the pallet deck, and with it, the associated exposure that often leaves pallets of perishable products subject to damage. Another benefit from the switch to Cleanpal is consistent pallet quality. FreshLinc’s customers have experienced a damage free supply of pallets which ensures time-sensitive perishable products are able to move without avoidable delay or double handling throughout the supply chain.

Cleanpal pallets also offer huge space savings compared to wood pallets when stacked in the warehouse or on the lorry, thanks to their 3:1 nesting ratio. In addition, unlike wood pallets, Cleanpal is RFID capable, providing the opportunity for accurate pallet tracking in the supply chain.

Adrian Dale, Polymer Logistics MD for the UK, said: “FreshLinc provides a highly sophisticated approach to supply chain management in the fast-paced temperature controlled supply chain. We are delighted to support their efforts through the provision of Cleanpal, which helps improve the safety, quality and efficiency of their operations.”

Wood Look Flower Stand from Polymer Logistics Offers Attractive yet Simple Display Solution for Flowers

Eliminates the need for decorative flower buckets, foil or fabric covering of the stand in order to achieve an appealing floral display

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Polymer Logistics has announced the introduction of its Wood Look Flower Stand to the UK market. The stand provides an elegant solution to a common challenge faced by retailers – choosing between displaying cut flowers in aesthetically unappealing plain black buckets, or more costly alternative of improving floral display appearance. The latter tactic can involve transferring floral stock to fancier buckets or covering the flower stand with fabric to enhance retail presentation.

With the Wood Look Flower Stand, buckets are simply placed into top openings, providing an instant fresh look without the inefficiencies that result from efforts to replace or beautify the standard black buckets. While supermarkets account for greater than 50 per cent of UK cut flower sales, the fresh ambiance of flower displays is expected to become increasingly important to the shopping experience of millennial customers, underscoring the opportunity for the Wood Look Flower Stand.

“Millennials are not purchasing flowers just to dress up their homes; they want to celebrate their personalities and express their moods,” a recent industry report from the US Produce Marketing Association has noted. “This generation is a natural target for the floral industry, with their environmental consciousness, urban dwellings in the need of greenery, and desire for unique colours, patterns and designs.”

When not in use, the Wood Look Flower Stand can be quickly disassembled to free up retail space while requiring only a minimal storage requirement. Stands are available in colours such as white, green, red and black in addition to brown.

Adrian Dale, Managing Director at Polymer Logistics, said: “The Wood Look Flower Stand is the result of engaging with retailers and understanding their challenges regarding floral merchandising. We are offering a solution that will improve dramatically the presentation of flowers in store, with minimum logistics concerns.”

Carrefour deploys the Marketplace crate from Polymer Logistics in its two new store formats

Attractive “wood-look” container provides a glimpse into the future of retailing, selected for Carrefour’s new Market Attrazione 2.0 and Carrefour Express 3 Minuti stores

As competition in the grocery retail sector continues to intensify, grocery retailers are looking to create stores that exceed shopper expectations for freshness and convenience, value pricing, healthy eating choices and locally sourced products. For its part, Carrefour continues to position itself for the future with the launch of its two newest retail formats, Market Attrazione 2.0 and Express 3 Minuti. The leading international merchant tapped the Marketplace crate from Polymer Logistics for deployment in both new outlets.

The first Market Attrazione 2.0 location recently opened in Pomezia in the Lazio region of Italy. At a size of almost 27,000 square feet, it offers more than 16,000 SKUs and is open 24/7. The emphasis of Market Attrazione 2.0 is on low pricing, including fixed low prices, as well as convenience. It also has a strong focus on healthy eating and local products, including a dedicated 640 square foot Bio area that offers organic, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan products. The store lists more than 1,000 locally sourced items, and the format also features perfume, seasonal non-food and textile departments.

Meanwhile, Carrefour has also launched its first Carrefour Express 3 Minuti in Genova. This 1,700-square foot store celebrates freshness and convenience in a small format setting, including a quick and easy customer experience. Shopping is made easy thanks to the organisation of products by area, including the featured fruit and vegetable section. Express 3 Minuti also offers tasty breakfasts, quick lunch options, as well as ready-made dinner selections. Other services include digital photo processing, free wi-fi, tickets, phone charging station, gift cards, ATM, bill payment and more.

Thanks to its attractive, wood-look exterior, the Marketplace crate evokes a farm-fresh ambience that has proven to help boost sales in all formats. The durable, standardised containers from Polymer Logistics also contribute to reducing both product loss as well as supply chain logistical costs, thus enabling retailers to compete successfully in both convenience and value pricing environments alike.

Gian Paolo Mezzanotte, Managing Director at Polymer Logistics, said: “We are delighted to support Carrefour’s development of innovative store formats with the Marketplace crate. Its acceptance at Market Attrazione 2.0 and Carrefour Express 3 Minuti stores demonstrates how the Marketplace crate can play a crucial role in helping retailers deliver on their vision for the future.”

Polymer Logistics salutes Tesco’s accomplishment of 20 million pieces of free fruit handed out to children

UK’s biggest supermarket utilises Polymer’s wood-effect Marketplace display fixtures to support the development of healthy eating habits

Polymer Logistics, a leading provider of retail-ready packaging (RRP) solutions, salutes Tesco on its accomplishment of having provided 20 million pieces of free fresh fruit to kids. Polymer is proud to have had its wood effect Marketplace units used to display the fruit selection.

Tesco’s innovative “Free Fruit for Kids” initiative, which has been rolled out in over 800 stores, has given UK children the opportunity to snack on over 6.5 million apples, 8 million bananas and 5.5 million oranges since the program began in the summer of 2016. According to a recent online survey of 1,400 Mumsnet users, one-third of parents say their children have eaten more fruit because of participating in the program, and nine out of ten respondents feel more positive about Tesco because of it.

With its extended line of Marketplace products, Polymer Logistics offers visual merchandising solutions for food retailers seeking to create an upscale fresh market look for stores. The distinctive wood-effect appearance of the Marketplace product family is advantageous to the perception of the store and has become the new standard for retailers.

In addition to visual appeal, Polymer’s Marketplace solutions provide other crucial benefits for the distribution of fresh produce including: robust product protection; foldable and stackable performance to maximise truck and store space; ergonomically friendly design; and the elimination of splinters and wires.  Fully recyclable at the end of their long life, Polymer’s Marketplace products eliminate packaging waste.

Following pilots, customer satisfaction surveys and acceptance of the Marketplace crates within international chains, including Wal-Mart and Carrefour, Tesco Group’s ‘One Stop’ shops have also selected Polymer Logistics’ Marketplace display and crate system – a modular display system that can be quickly assembled and is designed to create a uniform store look.

Adrian Dale, Polymer Logistics Managing Director for the UK, said, “We are delighted to support Tesco’s commitment to making the healthy choice easier for all its customers, children and grown-ups, through a distinctive ‘fresh from the field’ appearance of its stores and products.

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