Last year, the two companies piloted a closed-loop corrugated case reuse system to see how much (if any) material input savings they could achieve. Prior the trial, WSP’s products were packaged in single-walled corrugated cases that were taped closed before being sent to REDARC. These weak cases were often damaged during transport under the strain of the heavy wire contents. Upon receiving at REDARC, cases were opened, and flaps removed with knives, then unloaded on the line before being disposed of after a single use.
With 42 cases shipped per week by WSP to REDARC for 50 weeks per year, even this small volume of corrugated was seen as wasteful. Supplier BoxLatch, whose clip products stabilize corrugated and provide for reuse, partnered with the two companies on a year-long trial to see what savings and circulatory could be achieved.
|Read about the genesis of this project, and how Wiring Solutions Plus and BoxLatch conceived of and kicked off the trial of this circular packaging system.|
Today, by using BoxLatch products, WSP’s cases are now kept in good condition as they move through production, enabling their reuse like plastic totes, but at a fraction of the purchase cost. Two BoxLatches are used to secure the base of the box to carry an 11-kg (24-lb) load, while one is used to close the top of the case. Tape is no longer needed, saving WSP $115 per year.
The wire supplier also decided to upgrade its cases to a double-walled variety at a marginal cost to allow for reuse and improved product protection, which meant cases are cycled a modest seven times before disposal. This has cut costs from $1.20 to 0.30¢ per use. Over the expected five years of use, this will prevent wasting 9,114 cases and over 20 km (13 miles) of tape.
While there were fears that BoxLatches would take more time, in practice they were faster than tape and knives for closing and opening boxes, saving WSP a projected $568 per year in staff costs.
REDARC benefits from reduced task time and lowered risks from blades damaging products or injuring staff. Both WSP and REDARC have invested in a set of Clip & Stack products that are used to hold back box flaps as items move along the assembly line, improving access to the contents while being faster and safer than rubber bands or tape. Open boxes are also now safely stacked to save floorspace.
Clean, empty cases are collapsed, with BoxLatches and Clip & Stack packed separately at end-of-line for reuse. No tape was stuck to conveyors and no bands were wrapped around rollers. Maintenance people were happy with this benefit, the company says. Cases and BoxLatches are then returned to WSP, where they start the cycle again.
This case study illustrates that closed loop corrugated case reuse works with even a small number of cartons and provides a significant ROI on the cost of BoxLatch products. The more cycles the cases are reused, the higher the return. PW