Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


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

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 Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Pick or sort? It may seem like a simple decision, but in reality, you need to take multiple factors into consideration when choosing a strategy to meet rapidly expanding retail fulfillment needs.

R. Keith Harrison, former global supply chain executive, to provide CPG expertise.

Company's total managed square footage to increase 10% to 7.5 million square feet.

The relationships between third-party logistics (3PL) service providers and shippers are seeing ongoing developments due in large part to the continuing emergence and sophistication of omni-channel retailing. That was one of the key findings of The 19th Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, which was released by consultancy Capgemini Group, Penn State University, and Korn/Ferry International, a global talent advisory firm.

Annual survey illustrates optimism resulting from increasing profits.



© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA