Corrugated board trays, plastic crates - A case study of one supply chain of tomatoes between Holland
Abstract: New technology is always coming and with that comes changes. The technology has made it easier to fulfil each customer's demand. The customer has today much more different products to choose between and the stores have problems to get the right product to the right place at the right time. It is hard for the supply chain to forecast what the customer is going to buy the next day, especially if the delivery time is three days. The new technology has made it possible, not only to forecast better but also to get the products faster from the grower to the stores as inexpensive as possible. A result of this new technology, and of the fact that the corrugated industry has not followed the retailer development in the fruit and vegetables area, is the larger competition from plastic crates. The plastic crates have come and will stay in the fruit and vegetables market also in the future, the question is only how big market share they will take. The plastic crates have a lot of advantages, which was the reason why the crate was developed but also some disadvantages compared to the corrugated trays. The study has shown that the biggest differences are: ? Less damage on the product with plastic crates because of their higher stiffness, better stackability and modularity ? Easier handling of plastic crates than corrugated trays. The plastic crates have good handles always located at the same place ? The corrugated trays do not fulfil the automatic sorting conditions of today or in the future at the RDC ? No need to collapse the studied plastic crates after use which saves time, while the corrugated trays are collapsed for recovery ? Some products cannot be transported in plastic crates without a layer of corrugated board on the bottom of the crate, this because some products are too sensitive for the hard plastic crate ? The utilisation of transport volume is in general judged to be lower in the plastic trays because of lack of different crate heights. On the other hand the utilisation in a roll-cage is better than for trays. ? An additional cost for the plastic crates when they are washed and transported back to the supplier. This cost must be added to the crate cost when compared to the cost of the corrugated tray (purchasing cost for the crate divided by number of trips used) ? There could be fewer staff members doing the same thing in the second part of the supply chain if the second part off the supply chain only were using plastic crates. Because of the mentioned reasons the plastic crate share of the fruit and vegetables market will grow. The corrugated industry has to react on this competition from the plastic crates to keep its market share. It has to improve the stackability so that the damage, handling and transport costs become lower. The corrugated manufacturers also have to think about what new requirements the future demands of the tray. The author's opinion is that if not the corrugated industry reacts to the new demands from the customers the plastic crates will reach a great market share. 50% does not seem impossible if judged from the feed back 1 have got during this study from people in the chain. However, this figure has no scientific relevance, true or not? That will the future tell us.
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