From the industry

A clean answer to complex reverse logistics packaging

Packaging managers serving the automotive sector are having to keep a close eye on increased parts complexity across global distribution networks while meeting concerns about the environment. Comopack is one of the newest contenders in this field and its founders, David Lam and son, say the company has a returnable packaging offering that is flexible enough to help managers do just that

Comopack logoThe use of returnable packaging is on the increase, driven by a range of factors including increased standardisation of load carriers and more modular packaging concepts. At the same time as product and part number complexity increase, and automotive production and distribution networks spread further across the globe, packaging companies must keep pace by developing new products and services. 

Currently, manufacturers tend to use returnable equipment within regions, relying on disposable cardboard and dunnage for long-distance shipments to avoid empty return shipping. However, one-way packaging made of paper or wooden materials has numerous disadvantages. Besides being more susceptible to weather damage, companies also have to spend more in disposal fees and waste time with re-packaging before use. On the flip side, companies currently using reusable, stacking, small load containers (or KLTs) often have difficulty handling the issues of reverse logistics, maintenance and loss management, especially for cross-continental shipments. 

David Lam, founder of Comopack, which provides returnable packaging services, says his firm has considered the industry’s needs in structuring its KLT containers with dunnage matching and delivery systems to make it as flexible and cost-efficient as possible, at a global level. Comopack is introducing a global KLT container and dunnage solution which it says can be used to manage the whole reusable packaging process, from supply to collection and maintenance. 

Comopack graphicGlobal pooling
Companies can lease the KLTs and dunnage around the world, and have them returned conveniently at their end destinations without worrying about any repacking or returns. This is Comopack’s ‘Rent Local, Go Global’ business model. Cleaning and maintenance of the containers and dunnage are also wholly handled by Comopack. This means customers stay supported throughout the delivery lifecycle so that they can reach their transnational targets, while considering local conditions. 

The reusable KLTs are pooled globally and customers can look forward to a readily available supply of KLTs and dunnage to meet delivery demands, with no shortage issues. On top of that, the company’s pay-per-use pricing model makes using the products and supporting service more convenient and transparent.

“Customers can use our KLTs with dunnage pre-configured according to their product’s shape and size, with delivery and returns to and from their requested destination, anywhere in the world,” says Zhixiu Lam, director of Comopack. 

Comopack will be using software that can determine the most optimal packing layout based on a part’s dimensions. Dunnage for the KLTs is also pre-configured to the products’ shape and size, so that the KLTs are ready for immediate packaging upon arrival. This increases packing efficiency since customers are able to pack their products directly, skipping any box or dunnage assembly. 

The challenges of global returnable packaging

David Lam, founder of Comopack, has 25 years’ experience in reverse logistics, which includes being founder and executive chairman of Goodpack. 

Aware of the natural and synthetic rubber contamination and wooden crate disposal problems in the 1990s, Lam introduced the reusable, stackable and collapsible steel intermediate bulk container (IBC) to save storage space.

Today Goodpack is the world’s largest provider of environmentally friendly IBCs, handling a fleet of approximately 5m spread across 6,000 delivery and collection points worldwide. 

Running a business in global returnable packaging is not one bereft of challenges. Lam points out that there are many, from being able to handle the return logistics in various countries to the accountability and maintenance of the boxes. 

“Most importantly, it is essential to continuously upgrade infrastructure and innovate to ensure that you remain at the top of the game, providing improved services and cost reductions to our customers,” he says.

Lam says Comopack’s product is a potential and environmentally friendly attempt to bridge the gap in the global automotive packaging logistics industry.

End-to-end tracking
Many OEMs struggle to get the right type of containers in the right quantity at a certain supplier, which affects repackaging and shipping. Lam believes that the rapid implementation of technology in packaging and logistics helps address the issue of visibility over returnable containers and parts throughout the supply chain. Comopack’s KLTs will all come with two passive RFID tags each. Using those, the company will be able to track and monitor its assets and inventory levels. The system monitors overall quantities in the supply chain and customers’ projected needs, to avoid any shortages of containers.

As customers are transporting their products around the globe, they can use Comopack’s easy-to-use tracking system to know the locations of their assets. Bill for usage can also be done according to the RFID tag reads, promoting transparency and eliminating messy paper records. 

“We plan to let our customers leverage on our tracking system, so that they have visibility over their cargo and can track and monitor the location of their assets while it is moving between companies and on the road,” says Lam. 

For Comopack and its customers alike, that has a far-reaching impact on the management of containers moving through the supply chain, as location information can be accessed by different stakeholders. Carmakers and suppliers using Comopack’s system will be able to track their cargo on a pallet level and make sure that the right container is going to the right place in the right quantity. 

Waste free
The structure and quality of materials used for Comopack’s KLTs and dunnage were designed to improve packaging efficiency, safety and reduce CO2 emissions. Comopack’s plastic KLTs and dunnage are a more environmentally friendly alternative to corrugated packaging. The globally reusable KLTs and dunnage are 100% reconfigurable in shape and size, ensuring there is no waste. In fact, the containers remove waste material such as scrap wood and existing corrugated packaging produced during disposal processes. 

Comopack’s KLTs and dunnage are currently patent pending, and the company is working with potential customers who are interested in the solution for free trials. “I am  confident in Comopack’s role in this industry to help companies tackle container losses, lower manpower requirements, lower their packaging and logistics costs and eliminate disposal processes,” says Lam. 

Lowering costs for packaging while also providing an environmentally friendly product with capabilities for shipping globally are priorities for an automotive industry with supply chains constantly stretching into new markets.

For more information: info@comopack.com