With less handling, less cost, and less waste
The OEM was shipping battery modules for their popular car models from Germany to the US, but the one-way packaging they were using was expensive, difficult to ship safely, and created unsustainable waste. And yet it wasn’t able to be used in their automated production lines, which meant additional handling and repacking – and additional risk. CHEP was asked to see if we could come up with a better reusable packaging solution. Unusually, each of their battery modules was already supplied inside a UN Dangerous Goods certified housing, so there was no need for a DG certified transport container. However, the existing triple-walled cardboard external packaging didn’t pack well in sea containers, and the internal cardboard dunnage dividers could be degraded by humidity at sea.
More utilization by redesign
We started the collaboration process by looking at replacing the exterior packaging. In trials, CHEP’s standard sea shipping IcoQube containers were a challenge for the manufacturer’s hand-operated pump trucks. So our packaging engineers went to our IcoQube manufacturer to see how the pallet foot tools could be redesigned to solve the problem. This led to a new generation IcoQube 2 container that allows easier handling. The IcoQube 2 helped them increase weight utilization by up to 95%, improving efficiency and reducing costs. And using CHEP’s stronger returnable, foldable containers eliminated the need to dispose of large amounts of cardboard waste.
One-stop-shop is better than one-way
This success has led CHEP and the OEM to explore how outer and inner packaging could be combined in a one-stop sustainable solution. CHEP Customer Solutions Team used Computer-Aided Design data for the battery modules to create first concepts for reusable, durable and nestable inserts. Working with the OEM and a trusted insert supplier, these were developed and tested through 3D printed samples to a final design that was signed off for serial production. This is fully aligned with the OEM's automated lift-assist processes, is resistant to humidity, and is easily stackable for optimized return shipments.
The new inserts can lead to operational efficiencies that reduce loading times by 75% compared to one-way packaging.