How bending to one customer’s needs led to a breakthrough in stackable, collapsible totes.

Not long ago a customer came to us with a common space problem. Their stackable totes were taking over. Like most manufacturers, they need a ready supply of them, but the massive amount of them was crowding their workspace and taking up valuable real estate.

To make things worse, their business was at a tipping point where they needed every square foot they could get. If they continued to grow, they’d soon be out of space and need another building.

That was an expensive proposition, and one that drove our team to collaborate with them on a tote design that could satisfy their unique production needs while reducing the footprint of their staggering tote supply.

Moving to space-saving totes beats moving.

“The square-foot cost to construct new space ranges from about $80 for storage applications to $150 for a typical business operation.”
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They’d been considering molded collapsible totes but weren’t able to get the dimensions they wanted. Their optimal size of 22″ × 16″ × 13″ worked with their shelves, and it was their sweet spot ergonomically and in the way it held an efficient amount of their aluminum castings without getting too heavy.

The non-standard size wasn’t a problem for us. Our solution started with lightweight, durable and flexible corrugated plastic that provided the “bend” that enabled a unique hinged design. These features were topped off by patent-pending corner stacking lugs that are load-bearing. The special corners enable the totes to be stacked without damaging the contents—an important feature whether you’re shipping produce or storing computer chips.

The resulting design provided our client with the sturdy, stackable totes they needed. And it gave them the ability to collapse the containers down to 38″ × 13″ × 2″ when they weren’t needed.

The 29% reduction in footprint had an immediate impact on easing our client’s crowding problem and need for additional space, according to Senior Key Account Manager at Flexcon, Jason Grasso. The area saved can be used for assembly or other profit-generating activities.

In solving this client’s problem, Flexcon ended up resolving a universal one. “Stackable containers are notorious for wasting space when not in use. If they’re empty, they take up just as much room as when they’re full,” Flexcon’s President and CMO, Ken Beckerman explains. “Space is always a premium in any warehouse, in any facility. So, if you have some totes that will stack for you that you can break down and collapse to a quarter of the space, that’s a huge savings.”

Considering that commercial real estate rates continue to skyrocket, paying $5 per square foot in Chicago or $20 in NYC just to store totes makes less sense than ever. Every inch you save with a collapsible tote can help improve your return on real estate investment.

Flexcon’s Stackable Collapsible Totes have huge potential for reducing fleet costs, too. In areas like agriculture, the stackable totes could be used to protect the product during shipment and then compactly folded up to save space in trailers, thus reducing the number of return trips required.

As the goal of a closed loop becomes more and more widespread, a tote that saves in the warehouse as well as on the road provides opportunities for infinite industries and uses out there.

Talk to a Flexcon design specialist about how the benefits of stackable, collapsible totes could be bent and folded to fit the needs of your operation. Arrange a call to discuss your custom solution by emailing Jason Grasso at jasong@flexcontainer.com.

Influencer, inventor, innovator: Meet Flexcon’s Justin Beckerman

The future of materials handling is in good hands with the introduction of young, tech-savvy professionals like Justin Beckerman. This week, Flexcon Container of Berkley Heights, New Jersey officially tapped the 3rd generation Flexcon’er for a design and marketing role with the family-owned creator of plastic containers, pallets, bins and boxes.

No stranger to the family business, Justin has been a fixture around Flexcon since his toddling days. For over 20 years he’s sat at the knee of his product designer grandfather, Stephen Beckerman, and sales-leader father, Ken Beckerman. Over the years, Justin has had the opportunity to contribute to everything from design projects to Flexcon’s IT systems—he even single-handedly re-upped company communications following Superstorm Sandy.

Beckerman has been drawn toward invention and innovation from an early age. He once built his own blender and he created a functioning submarine at the age of 18—a feat that led to 27 dives and countless news features.

Most recently, he graduated from the renowned Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey where he studied business science. His move to full time role was a natural, according to Flexcon President and CMO, Ken Beckerman. “He brings with him an extensive knowledge of engineering and marketing and will add his innovation, outreach and design talents to our organization,” he says.

On Flexcon’s business side, Justin will initially focus on improving Flexcon’s marketing capabilities and speeding up quoting for clients.

On the product design side, he will be working on adding the ability for Flexcon to design and make rapid prototypes in-house for a faster turnaround on samples and models. Part of that endeavor involves building Flexcon’s 3D printer. With 18 cubic feet of build space, the large format printer is custom-built to quickly and easily make conceptual container and divider models for clients.

The man who builds printers, submarines and a never-ending stream of solar-powered and remote-controlled gadgets has ambitions that extend beyond invention to innovations that build on Flexcon’s business success. His years immersed in the company culture made him keenly aware of Flexcon’s devotion to meeting clients’ needs—in particular those of facilities managers and directors of distribution and logistics. “The goal is to make the container the easiest part of their job. So when they’re running a factory, warehouse or distribution center, they don’t have to worry too much about what containers they’re going to get and how the quality may be,” Justin says.

In addition to seeing his role in Flexcon’s proud history of innovative product design and customer care, Justin is cognizant of the significant behind-the-scenes role of container manufacturers like Flexcon. “Every industry relies on containers to play some essential role. Whether the trays for bakeries, mail totes for the U.S. Postal Service or containers for automation and ASRS systems,” he explains. “They’re a necessary part of every single industry from agriculture to biomedical.”

With his new position, Justin looks forward to applying his inventiveness and insights to the challenges of modern customers. “We want to be able to help people move and store and take care of their products in the most efficient way possible,” Justin explains. ”Not only making it easier for each person who’s buying from us, but make it easy for every person that touches one of these containers—whether that means making a handle that’s ergonomic, a container that’s aesthetically-pleasing or an automated tote that’s 25% quieter.”

In doing that, he has the support of generations past. “We are excited to have Justin with us full time as our Client Design & Solutions Specialist and look forward to seeing how he can make our customer-based focus even better,” Ken says.

3 generations of family-owned business: Justin, Stephen, and Ken Beckerman