Packaging Corner: Achieve clarity with clear bins and containers
February 01, 2013 - MMH Editorial
Although colorful, opaque bins and containers have been used as a key component of shelf-based small parts organization for decades, no user has ever been able to look through their sidewalls to see the contents. Since x-ray vision technology for pickers is still not available, the need for a clear bin became, well, clear, says Ed Granger, director of sales at Quantum Storage Systems.
“Clear bins and containers are great for inventory control because you can see into the bin to identify what is inside and how much of it there is,” he says, “especially when bins are located on shelving and are up as high as 5 to 6 feet off the ground. They also create a visually clean, sterile look which is important in certain markets, such as healthcare.”
To address these issues, Quantum initially introduced two product lines of clear containers—a stack-and-hang bin and a shelf bin. But increasing demand for additional sizes prompted the company to expand its clear container offerings to more than 1,000 different models and sizes.
His company was not the first to roll out clear containers, admits Granger. But, in his opinion, they have refined the manufacturing process and the material formulation to achieve the clearest level of opacity with the most optimal structural integrity.
“The clear bins that were previously on the market either sacrificed clarity to maintain strength—making the container material appear somewhat milky and still difficult to see through—or had reduced structural integrity, lower volume capacity and a shorter lifespan to achieve a clear appearance,” he says. “Because we wanted a bin that had both clarity and sound structural integrity, we refined our engineering and manufacturing processes.”
Granger acknowledges that the additional manufacturing steps result in a slightly more expensive product. “However, we’ve found that customers who want both clarity and strength in their containers are not put off by the price, because the advantages of the clear bins are important to them,” he says.
The market opportunities for these clear bins and containers are virtually limitless, adds Granger. “In addition to industrial manufacturing and distribution and healthcare, we’ve seen interest from school systems and even from retailers—particularly those in the fasteners industry,” he says.