Polymer Logistics RPCs are much more than boxes. They are engineered to deliver compelling benefits to retailers, including wastage reduction and increased sales. Let’s take a closer look.
RPCs help reduce wastage in two crucial ways. Firstly, the design of RPCs to facilitate ventilation enables the quicker cooling of products being packed, as well as more uniform cooling of perishables throughout their cold chain journey. Superior ventilation is positively related to longer shelf life. Recent research from Dr. Lippert Quality Management, a fresh food consultancy and a spin-off from the University of Bonn (Germany) found that fresh produce packed in RPCs enjoyed a shelf life from one to four days longer compared to products packed in single-use containers. Muskmelons lasted four days longer, on average, while mushrooms and tomatoes remained fresh for two extra days. Grapes enjoyed one additional day of shelf life. Longer shelf life translates into less loss and more sales. Also, extra shelf life can also mean products that last longer at home, resulting in happy customers who are more likely to return.
The second way that RPCs help to eliminate product loss is through providing better product protection. Thanks to the sturdy construction of RPCs, mechanical damage to the packaging and in turn to the products they hold, is reduced. A 2013 study by ‘Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg’ (Foundation for Reusable Systems) in Germany discovered that over 4% of single-use transport packaging is damaged in the supply chain, versus just 0.12% for reusable packaging. According to the study, the minimal amount of damage to RPCs resulted from human error in load securement or handling, as opposed to primarily being due to the packaging itself in the case of disposable packaging.
Additionally, researchers found that 40% of fruit and vegetables arriving in such containers to the central warehouse was partly unsaleable. In the infrequent occurrences when an RPC was compromised, however, produce was only partially damaged 22% of the time. At retail, about 20% of fresh produce arriving in damaged disposable packaging was negatively affected, while no damage was observed for RPCs.
Aside from helping to reduce wastage, attractive wood-look and Crystal Clear RPCs from Polymer Logistics have also been recognised by major retailers as an emerging approach to enhancing retail presentation and boosting sales. Wood-look crates and display fixtures create a “farm-fresh” ambience in the produce department, helping to establish a competitive advantage for retailers that deploy them. They have reported sales increases of 6 to 9% when wood-look RPCs are used, and in-store processes are aligned to support this approach.
Through better product protection and ventilation, RPCs have been proven to reduce wastage, while leading retailers have discovered that farm-fresh presentation made possible through wood-look RPCs and display fixtures can help drive increased sales. Just two more reasons to touch base with Polymer Logistics.
Highly automated bottled water supplier and customers benefit from the consistency of Polymer’s plastic half pallets and “one touch” merchandising
Rapidly growing Celtic Pure, Ireland’s leading independent bottled water supplier, has turned to Polymer Logistics to support its extensive investment in automation. Polymer’s UDP, a high performance plastic half pallet, helps ensure smooth operations in Celtic Pure’s automated processing and storage environment. In addition, it enables “one-touch” merchandising at retail as well as providing superior hygiene, thanks to construction from “easy-to-clean” polymer.
The selection of the UDP (Universal Display Pallet) by Celtic Pure is an ideal fit for the company’s recently installed automated bottling line and storage environments. Polymer’s high-quality plastic half pallet works seamlessly within Celtic Pure’s high volume production process. Unlike wood pallets, which can pose problems for automated systems due to damage or variable quality, the consistently sized UDP offers reliable service in high-speed operations.
Another important aspect of the UDP is its ‘one-touch’ functionality. It serves as a base for transport and storage as well as an attractive in-store display. The 80 x 60 cm UDP is perfectly sized for in-aisle as well as floor placement, eliminating the need for shelves, as well as the time and cost associated with manually stocking them.
Also of note, the UDP is manufactured from easy-to-clean polymer, making it a compelling choice for food processors concerned about maintaining optimal hygiene. It resists moisture, insects and fungi, in addition to being impervious to acids, fats, solvents and odour. Other hygiene benefits include the absence of wood splinters or exposed nails associated with wood pallets.
Launched less than 20 years ago, Celtic Pure is now Ireland’s largest independent bottled water provider. The company operates from a state-of-the-art bottling facility close to the original spring location that has served the McEneaney family for well over 200 years. Significant investments in a new bottling line and automated storage have seen the company boost its capacity from 120 million bottles per year to 250 million.
Adrian Dale, Managing Director, Polymer Logistics: “Celtic Pure provides a perfect example of how automated storage and production can be enhanced by a high-quality plastic pallet that not only helps improve efficiency but also improves hygiene. In addition, the display-ready UDP is perfectly designed to help retailers reduce stocking labour and increase sales.”
When it comes to understanding why Polymer Logistics RPCs (reusable plastic containers) provide a more sustainable packaging option than alternatives for the food supply chain, the reason is quite simple. It comes down to reusability.
The opportunity for reuse results from their sturdy construction. Polymer RPCs are highly engineered, designed to keep on protecting sensitive products from bruising, trip after trip while offering superior ventilation to extend the shelf life of the perishables they transport.
Even though the atmospheric carbon released in the manufacturing of an RPC is greater than that from producing a corrugated carton, consider that the RPC lasts 50 or 100 trips or more on average, versus just a single shipment for the disposable option. When the greenhouse gas impact of manufacturing 50 or 100 single-use containers is stacked up against that of a single RPC which will eventually move the same amount of tomatoes or pears, the sustainability advantages of RPCs genuinely begin to shine. Even when the energy required for reverse logistics and crate washing is entered into the equation, the RPC still comes out far ahead, according to recent studies from Europe and the US.
Earlier this year, for example, research from the Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg (SIM) of the Fraunhofer Institute IBP (Germany) determined that RPCs used to transport fresh fruit and vegetables generate approximately 60% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than disposable transport packaging. A thorough life cycle analysis was undertaken for both packaging options, including their actual transport performance in France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Analysts determined that around 15 t of CO2 equivalent were emitted when RPCs were used to ship 1,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables, versus over 37 t CO2 equivalent emissions for disposable containers. According to the study, RPCs required just 3,070 kg of plastic versus 52,200 kg of corrugated cardboard containers.
Meanwhile, a 2017 study by Franklin Associates in the U.S. also identified RPCs as a more sustainable option. It compared RPCs with corrugated containers for the shipment of apples, bell peppers, carrots, grapes, iceberg lettuce, onions, oranges, peaches/nectarines, tomatoes, and strawberries. RPCs were found to produce 31% less global warming potential (CO2 equivalents) and 86% less solid waste, while requiring 64% less energy and 80% less water, even though the RPCs were washed after every trip. (The production of corrugated board is very water-intensive.)
RPCs deliver many benefits, including improved sustainability outcomes. If you are looking for low hanging fruit to support your corporate sustainability goals, consider introducing RPCs from Polymer Logistics.
IoT-enabled asset tracking solutions from the leading provider of retail-ready packaging (RPP) can enable businesses to reduce risk, save money, and create new revenue streams
Supply chain professionals from across the FMCG will gather at IGD’s Supply Chain Summit 2018 to explore the most significant developments in food and grocery. The event takes place 13th November at etc.venues St Paul’s, London. With a theme of supply chains for growth, the conference brings together retailers, suppliers and solution providers that are adapting and thriving in the face of change. Polymer Logistics, a show sponsor and exhibitor, will demonstrate its developments and innovation in the Internet of Things (IoT).
Through IoT, technology-enabled supermarket assets such as pallets, trays and roll cages can be connected to a network where data can be exchanged for the benefit of the supply chain. Summit attendees are encouraged to visit the Polymer Logistics booth to attend an interactive presentation, including traceability enabled CleanPal plastic pallets and smart crates. The placement of sensors on durable plastic CleanPal plastic pallets and smart crates, combined with the Polymer Logistics iLogistics IoT solution, provides an ideal opportunity to start enjoying the benefits of IoT in your supply chain.
Polymer Logistics representatives will show how IoT-enabled asset tracking solutions can provide insights into asset location, temperature, inventory stock level and other valuable information. New technologies can also combine to give a clear view of store stock levels, provide better forecasts, and deliver push notifications to customers about promotions. IoT solutions from Polymer Solutions can provide the insights required to make supply chain management easier, enabling your business to reduce risk, save money, and create new revenue streams.
Adrian Dale, Managing Director, Polymer Logistics: “There will be an estimated 30 billion devices connected to the IoT world by 2020, and supply chain applications are now recognised as being one of the most exciting areas of impact. IoT is an area where early movers are gaining a competitive advantage. We encourage Summit attendees to attend an interactive demonstration at our booth, and to let us help them get started on their IoT journey.”
Polymer Logistics wins at FreshAwards 2018 for the deployment of its Cleanpal polypropylene pallet in the fresh produce supply chain
Polymer Logistics, a leading international provider of ‘One-Touch/Retail Ready Packaging (RRP)’ Solutions, has been named a winner at FreshAwards 2018 in Supply Chain Excellence as best Business Service Partner. The FreshAwards presentations were held at the Pavilion at the Tower of London on Tuesday 5 June 2018. The gala evening drew around five hundred attendees, and was hosted by Shane Richie, popular TV actor and presenter.
“All FreshAwards winners and finalists are trailblazers for the industry, setting a high standard of excellence,” stated Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium. “The FreshAwards are the ultimate accolade from the UK fresh produce industry. We are delighted to recognise strong leadership, innovation and business acumen among this year’s finalists and winners.”
As a trailblazing finalist in the Business Service Partner category, Polymer Logistics competed against a broad range of companies that support the fresh produce and floral sector, including providers of packaging, logistics, IT, machinery and more.
Polymer’s winning entry showcased Cleanpal, the hygienic reusable pallet that weighs only half as much as a dry wood pallet while performing substantially above its weight class regarding overall supply chain benefits. While wood pallets have remained largely unchanged for over half a Century, innovative Cleanpal pallets are poised to offer urgently needed supply chain improvements in terms of cleanliness, space utilization, ease of handling, reduced environmental cost impact and cost savings.
In a ten-month project, which involved a full-time team of ten employees and a significant investment, Cleanpal pallets were utilised in a highly successful field to retail supply chain application that involved Freshlinc, Poskitts, D.E. Brand and Asda. Harvest workers enjoyed the ease of pallet handling in the field, while operators appreciated the easy fork entry. The free underdeck provides a larger opening than found in wooden pallets. No shifting or loss of palletised product was recorded, as load stability was enhanced by the use of interlocking trays.
Material handlers remarked on how Cleanpal can be easily lifted and stacked manually, as well as nested to optimise the space utilisation. Three times as many empty pallets can be transported on a single lorry and only a third of the storage space is required.
Adrian Dale: “We are delighted to have been acknowledged at the extremely prestigious and highly competitive FreshAwards 2018. We are blown away by all of the participants, and the value they collectively create for the fresh supply chain. We look forward to the 2019 competition.
The fresh produce industry knows only too well the inherent issues that arise from conventional pallets, from a space, safety and food hygiene perspective. Cleanpal provides a paradigm shift in terms of overall benefits for the fresh produce supply chain.”
Light pallet effortlessly performs the heavy lifting in a recent supply chain trial
From omnichannel to automation, and from real-time visibility to heightened concerns about hygiene and worker safety, emerging trends continue to strain the capabilities of today’s retail supply chains. Operators are increasingly motivated to identify and root out long accepted legacy practices that may be impeding operational improvements. One such area of opportunity pertains to pallet technology.
A recent trial assessed the potential for a highly engineered lightweight plastic pallet, the Cleanpal from Polymer Logistics, in a fresh produce application. The project involved D.E. Brand, a supplier of quality Brassica vegetables, as well as Asda, a leading grocery retailer. Produce is a demanding application for pallets and palletised products, involving hygiene, ergonomics and worker safety risks, as well as moist conditions that can result in wood pallets and corrugated cartons absorbing moisture and harbouring bacteria.
D.E. Brand’s production unit is based in Surfleet, where the company farms more than 1,300 acres on some of Lincolnshire’s best silt land. They offer a rich combination of experience, expertise and commercial knowledge, with experts in varietal development, crop management, harvesting, product care, distribution and category management.
Asda, part of the Walmart family, is one of the UK’s largest grocery retailers. They are guided by aspirations to be supplied by 100% renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain people and the environment. They recently created the Asda Sustain & Save Exchange (SSE), a collaborative approach to building a world-class sustainable supplier base. Today, Asda products travel 30 million fewer miles to and from depots today than they did in 2005, resulting in significant carbon and cost reductions. By 2014, they were diverting 98.9% of their waste.
Cleanpal: Engineered for the 21st Century Supply chain
Designed for today’s supply chain needs, the RFID capable Cleanpal offers several benefits versus timber pallets, starting with weight. At just 15kg, it provides ease of manual handling, making it a much more ergonomically friendly solution than wood. Also, the lighter pallet means that more capacity is available for product before weighing out a load. On average, 3 to 6% more merchandise can be loaded onto a vehicle with Cleanpal than with wood pallets. The result is that fewer miles are required to ship the same amount of product.
Another important differentiator is the durability of Cleanpal. It experiences a damage rate of just 1.5% per trip compared to more than 25% for wood pallets. Increased life expectancy translates into more reliable performance in the supply chain, with fewer delays, disruptions or product damage because of breakage. In addition, a 3:1 empty pallet nesting ration provides space-saving efficiencies for return and storage. Vastly improved pallet life, along with fewer delivery and return miles, combine to offer essential sustainability gains.
Additionally, because Cleanpal is RFID capable, it can be used in conjunction with tracking systems to provide supply chain visibility for the products that it carries.
Cleanpal Trial Demonstrates the Power of Plastic
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. No half trays or boxes were used in the trial.
The trial was undertaken to demonstrate how Cleanpal could improve supply chain operations for fresh produce. Several variables were evaluated, including the productivity of forklift handling during loading and unloading, load stability in conjunction with plastic crates, as well as Cleanpal’s fit for manual handling. The project allowed material handlers to experience how the plastic pallets can be easily lifted and stacked manually as well as nested when empty to optimise space utilisation.
The Cleanpal trial proved to be highly successful. 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. Because trays do not overhang the pallet, pallets of product are faster to manoeuvre and are less vulnerable to damage.
Forklift handling and pump trucks functioned seamlessly with Cleanpal. Operators appreciated the ease of fork entry, with the free underdeck providing a larger opening than found in wood pallets. Some of the feedback from Asda Skelmersdale personnel included comments that the plastic pallets were easily handled by MHE and pump trucks, and lighter to lift and stack. They also appreciated that Cleanpal pallets were a consistent weight as opposed to wood pallets and that the risk of splinters and nails was eliminated.
From a health and safety perspective, ASDA remarked positively that trays of fresh produce could be effortlessly slid from the pallet as per established best practice. This recommended approach is often not feasible with wood pallets, given the gaps between top deck boards, the likelihood of exposed nail heads, as well as other irregularities.
Adrian Dale: “As supply chain operators strive to deliver on excellence, there can be no stone left unturned when it comes to evaluating legacy products and processes that are standing in the way of important improvement opportunities. 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.
“While the use of wood pallets is a widely accepted and entrenched legacy practice, it makes perfect sense for retailers and their suppliers to start identifying specific supply lines that will be best served by a conversion to Cleanpal, such as the partnership between D.E. Brand and Asda. By identifying and upgrading the pallet technology used in such trading relationships, one partner at a time, the overall pallet system can systematically begin its transformation toward a leading edge 21st Century solution.”
Excellence in innovation, corporate performance and personal achievement is at the heart of supply chain improvement. FPC once again celebrates the successes of individuals and companies in the produce supply chain through its Freshawards 2018 competition. Judges have now identified the finalists in 15 categories. One of those finalists is Polymer Logistics, for its paradigm-shifting Cleanpal pallet.
“We were overwhelmed with the number of entries and they’ve raised the bar again!,” said Nigel Jenney, CEO of FPC. “Cracking success stories and so many bright individuals, it’s uplifting to read such positivity in these challenging times. Judging was particularly challenging this year and it’s such a shame there can only be one winner.”
Polymer Logistics is a finalist in the Business Service Partner Category, which includes the broad array of business partners who support UK fresh produce and flower companies through the provision of services and products such as packaging, logistics, IT, machinery, and many others. Polymer’s entry relates to Cleanpal, the hygienic pallet that weighs only half as much as a dry wood pallet while punching considerably above its weight class regarding overall supply chain benefits.
In a ten month project which involved a full-time team of ten employees and a significant investment, have resulted in the hygienic Cleanpal plastic pallets are being deployed in the Freshlinc, Poskitts, D.E. Brand and Asda supply chain with remarkable success. Harvest workers enjoyed the ease of pallet handling in the field, while operators appreciated the easy fork entry. The free underdeck provides a larger opening than found in wooden pallets. No shifting or loss of palletised product was recorded, as load stability was enhanced by the use of interlocking trays.
Material handlers were able to experience how Cleanpal can be easily lifted and stacked manually, as well as nested to optimise the space utilisation. Three times as many empty pallets can be transported on a single lorry and only a third of the storage space is required.
Laboratory trials demonstrated that the new pallet material is very hygienic, essential to the safety of today’s food supply chain. Cleanpal has been developed using easy-to-clean polypropylene. Cleanpal also eliminates issues commonly encountered with wood pallets such as splintering and exposed nails. Recyclable Cleanpal pallets can also be manufactured from food grade post-consumer plastic, a positive impact on waste.
Fresh produce is too often referred to as a commodity business, one that is steeped in commonly accepted practices and expectations. In truth, however, companies and shoppers alike continually strive to find the best – the pick of the crop. FPC’s Freshawards afford an opportunity to do just that, to recognise the accomplishments of individuals and businesses in creating a more vibrant and resilient produce supply chain. Please join us in applauding the finalists for this year’s event, and in wishing all participants the best of luck. The winners will be announced June 5 at Freshawards 2018, to be held at the Pavilion, Tower of London.