Standardised truck sizes, packaging ‘key to cutting supply chain costs’

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 09, 2017

“Standardisation of truck sizes is extremely important to improve efficiency and reduce losses. We applaud India as they are considering a voluntary truck replacement programme” Kamal Narang

Reusing packaging material may be normal for Indian households, but doing the same at a macro level — across different firms and countries — counts as one of the top methodologies for sustainability.

At a time when India is considering voluntary truck replacement programme, an India-US task force on supply chain, of the US India Business Council, points out the need to have guidelines for sizes of trucks and also of packaging material, a move which can sharply lower the supply chain costs.

Improving efficiency

“Standardisation of truck sizes is extremely important to improve efficiency and reduce losses. We applaud India as they are considering a voluntary truck replacement programme,” Mike Mullin, Senior Director, Global Government and Public Affairs, Brambles, and head of a task force set up by US India Business Collaboration on supply chain standards and practices, told BusinessLine. Brambles is a packaging solutions company that operates with brand name CHEP and IFCO.

Tertiary packaging

Mullin said that the India-US task force on supply chain would encourage India to consider standardised truck for commercial vehicles to have efficient loading and unloading, something that most of the modern supply chains have. This also results lowering their cost of supply chain as a percentage of GDP . Mullin also stressed on the need to standardise tertiary packaging, and shared how retailers pool their packaging material to lower costs. “Standardisation in packaging is important. Packaging can be thought of as primary packaging when products are put into boxes and then when they are put into pallets, they are tertiary packaging,” he added.

“We provide reusable packaging; reusing is a higher standard of environmental sustainability. For instance, if there are Walmart and P&G; and Walmart calls up P&G and says they want soap, P&G calls us and asks for a box to ship the soaps and we ship the boxes to them. If the pallets don’t go back to the point of origin, they go to the nearest service centre from where they can be picked up by another customer for use the same day,” he said.

Longer life

“Walmart doesn’t want to compete against firms who have the best pallets — so they share the best pallets in a pool, which is more sustainable environmentally. The pallets are engineered for a ten-year life span, the plastics — in reusable crates — are also sustainable for a long time. They have collapsible sides, and so, when empty, they are easier to stack,” added Mullin.

In the context of logistics, India can learn from the US, the UK, Europe and Australia, in terms of standardised truck sizes, which allows for the use of unit load devices — basically pallets and things like that. “You can reduce costs of moving goods by almost half at times having standardized packaging. You also fill the truck to the fullest,” he added.

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Published on May 09, 2017
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