How the perfect container can help optimize your supply chain.

The COVID-19 crisis is making everyone think differently about supply chains these days. From the C suite to main street, people have been reminded of the importance of a robust and secure flow of goods. As the immediate considerations get worked out and the toilet paper returns to our shelves, companies are moving from recovery mode to planning for the long term.

In the past week the Wall Street Journal stated that the upheaval from the pandemic is pushing businesses to retool their supply chains.

And the World Economic Forum wrote this month, “Future supply chains will need to begin factoring resilience and adaptability into their calculations.”

These developments have the team at Flexcon thinking about the role of containers in creating resilient, adaptable, safe, sustainable—and always efficient and cost effective—supply chains.

If you’re in the process of retooling your systems and processes, consider these ways that the perfect container can support your success.

Nestable or collapsible containers can lower transportation costs.

Totes and bins that can be compacted together support efficient return processes. They enable you to ship more empties in less truckloads when the empties are shipped back to you. “It’s expensive to haul air and store air,” points out Ken Beckerman, President and CMO of Flexcon.

Plastic totes and bins boost your sustainability.

Single-use cardboard crates and boxes are costly to your supply chain as well as to the environment. They’re a poor value that packs significant disposal costs. In contrast, plastic, reusable containers can be washed and reused many times.

Intelligent tote design can help contain damage costs.

Plastic containers lower supply chain costs by protecting perishables and sensitive products better than cardboard. Moisture weakens cardboard boxes and makes produce, sensitive parts and fragile products vulnerable to crushing. Flexcon plastic containers resist water damage and can provide added protection for specific products using dividers and more. For electronics, special features to prevent electrostatic damage are often employed.

Efficient totes support high performance pick and pack.

With ecommerce on the rise, the spotlight is on aiding the speed and accuracy of employees on the pick line while ensuring their safety. The right totes can support faster picking through better organization features like color coding and divider systems that decrease lead times—the time it takes to grab parts or products. Smart designs take ergonomics into account to reduce fatigue and repetitive stress.

Totes that last provide a lasting value.

It would be hard to find a link in the supply chain that didn’t rely on bins and boxes. When containers fail, they weaken the backbones of operations. This can lead to disruptions and shortages that affect production. It’s important to choose containers that won’t break or be susceptible to damage that jams Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) or causes injury. This is where Flexcon’s experience proves invaluable. Our containers ensure resilience and ROI through proven designs and a proprietary plastic resin that’s formulated to last.

Containers contribute to your supply chain’s agility.

Because of all the possible settings and uses for containers, it’s important to choose a design with cross-functionality. Will it be carried? Conveyored? Palletized? Will it be used on a pick line or end up in a retail environment? By thinking through all the possible uses, it’s possible to choose containers that excel throughout the supply chain and are adaptable to your changing needs. That can reduce your need for new containers and promote efficiency in every use case.

Make the most of automation.

The quarantine left many manufacturers shorthanded and gave ASRS the opportunity to shine. If you’re thinking about integrating ASRS into your operations, be sure and consider your containers sooner rather than later. The right container is precisely created for ASRS with a proven design that promotes continuous production by anticipating things like accumulation pressure that can cause poorly designed containers to pop up and stop production, damaging products and causing injuries in some cases.

A simplified container system helps streamline operations.

Complex manufacturing or distribution settings can require containers for dozens if not hundreds of uses. While it’s important to have the best, most efficient container for each purpose, it’s not always necessary to have a unique container for every usage. Minimizing the number of configurations reduces headaches caused by searching for the right container plus all the storing and sorting hassles. Part of Flexcon’s role is often devising standardized and simplified systems that reduce the number of containers required. In one recent case, Flexcon was able to reduce a client’s request for 200 containers down to 5 core container configurations that could be adapted for each use.   

Make your containers part of your fully optimized supply chain.

Considering that containers touch just about every link in supply chains in some way, it’s not surprising that they can play a significant role in improving them. Taking a holistic approach can help. Toward that end, getting an outside perspective can prove invaluable. In recent years, container consultation has become an unofficial niche for Flexcon. “Oftentimes in the course of a client engagement we’ll see ways to improve a customer’s system that will make material handling easier,” Beckerman explains. “As we go through the process, they often get excited when they realize the value we’re adding.”

Ready to consider the potential of your container chain?

If you’re retooling your supply chain, make sure you leverage the many benefits that the perfect container can bring. Contact us for your free container chain consultation.

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