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 [email protected].