Demand for alternatives to cardboard transport boxes is rising sharply: Expressdienst expects deliveries in returnable containers to increase by more than 50 per cent this year
Weinheim, 4 July 2023. trans-o-flex Expressdienst recently delivered its millionth consignment in a returnable container for the pharmaceutical manufacturer MSD. As the first manufacturing pharmaceutical company, MSD’s human and animal health businesses had started in early 2021 to switch the shipping of its products to all customers to a newly developed returnable container system, which has benefits for both the environment and the consignees. According to MSD, this has enabled it to reduce its carbon footprint by more than half compared to previously used disposable cardboard boxes, and water consumption by as much as 80 per cent. In addition, the already low damage rate of products has been reduced by another third. Last but not least, consignees would regularly give positive feedback on the returnable containers. “In addition to being environmentally friendly, what they like about the containers is that they are smaller than the cardboard boxes because less filling material has to be used to protect the goods,” says trans-o-flex CEO Wolfgang P. Albeck. “In addition, consignees always point out that they are relieved because they have to dispose of less cardboard and filling material.”
The containers, which trans-o-flex offers its customers under the name tof.ecobox, can be used for all shipments with trans-o-flex Express and trans-o-flex ThermoMed, both with active temperature control at 2-8 °C and 15-25 °C and without temperature control. There are four different sizes available. The smallest measures 30 x 20 x 16 cm, the largest 60 x 40 x 34 cm. All the containers can be stacked both empty and full. The container pool is operated by Smart Container Loop GmbH. The company is part of the Schoeller Group, which has more than 30 years of experience with returnable transport containers.
Special software developed for transparent container management
For optimum management of the containers at the lowest possible cost, trans-o-flex IT-Service GmbH has developed its own new software in cooperation with Smart Container Loop. It controls additional processes, corrects errors and provides a perfect basis for container billing. “Our conventional scans for every package at every shipping interface are the basis for this,” says Wolfgang P. Albeck, CEO of trans-o-flex. This gives the consignors an overview of all containers sent, their location and the time they spend there. “With the new software, we not only transmit the information about as to when a particular container is at a particular location. It is also checked whether the container number transmitted in advance is correct.” If not, the correct container number is automatically stored in the system. “This makes container management simple and transparent, and allows for traceable and originator-based cost allocation at all times.
Ideally, the returnable containers are used by consignees who receive deliveries on a regular basis. After delivery, the further procedure is as follows: On the next delivery, the trans-o-flex driver takes the empty containers with him and drops them off at the trans-o-flex site when he picks up new goods there again. At the trans-o-flex site, the containers are stacked on pallets and then bundled for cleaning. They then go to the respective customer or their warehouse service provider for the next shipment.
According to Albeck, the interest in shipments in reusable containers is growing strongly. “While we transported a total of around 1.1 million packages in tof.ecoboxes in 2022, we expect 1.7 million ecobox shipments this year, a good 50 per cent increase.”