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Packaging material: A value-added service that pays off

Pallets and other packaging materials are key players in logistics, but demands on the exchange system are becoming more and more complex. In its rigorous pursuit of quality, DACHSER is committed to offering packing-aid exchange as a value-added service.
Each euro pallet consists of 9 wooden blocks, 11 boards and 78 nails. It is 1200 mm in length, 800 mm in width, 144 mm in height and has a weight of 22kg.

They are the silent stars of logistics: pallets and other packaging materials. As literal carriers they are indispensable in getting the right goods to the right place, at the right time, and in the right quality. Every year, DACHSER transports over 60 million euro pallets throughout Europe, plus 25 million other shipments packaged using trackable load carriers such as grid boxes, food cases, and containers of various kinds.

Packing-aid exchange is essential for a seamless transport chain. It focuses on the physical exchange at the consignee’s loading bay as well as on return transport of the empties to the transit terminal where the packaging material is sorted and temporarily stored. “In this sort of circular flow, we need to pay more attention to the valuable role packaging material plays,” explains Jens Müller, Head of Network Management Organization at DACHSER. After all, its quality has a decisive impact on the overall quality of the logistical service being provided.

A race for quality

A broken or heavily soiled pallet can knock even the most carefully coordinated supply chain off schedule, and there are considerable safety risks inherent in moving subpar pallets in high bay storage. The industry in general is complaining of a noticeable slide in the quality of EU pallets in circulation, which means more and more money has to be spent on repairing and replacing them. Moreover, there has been a noticeable increase in the additional administration needed for issuing special grouping vouchers.

Over 400 packing-aid experts

“DACHSER is committed to offering packing-aid exchange as a value-added service, which we also need to price accordingly,” Müller says, as the service calls for considerable time and effort on DACHSER’s part. He continues: “To offer our customers the greatest possible benefit—and with it, sustainability—through reusable transport packaging, we employ more than 400 packaging specialists based at our branches throughout Europe and at our Head Office in Kempten.” What’s more, at the Head Office DACHSER is continuously developing its packaging material management system in order to keep pace with digitalization and the latest developments in IT.

The ideal circular flow is not always the rule

In day-to-day logistics, packaging material management and service often present a complex challenge. The ideal circular flow, with an equal exchange between sender and recipient stations, is not always to be found everywhere. Disparities frequently occur between branches with a high demand for packaging material and others with a surplus. “What is needed is a smart solution for managing the grouping and exchange system, one that embraces the idea of ‘booking, not driving’,” says Thomas Jäger, Department Head Container & Dangerous Goods Management at DACHSER.

Double-entry bookkeeping

Everyone at DACHSER involved in transport processes is helping our packaging material management team to create the conditions necessary for reusing load carriers by setting up and operating packaging material “accounts.” “To guarantee a secure and effective packaging material service, we use for instance double-entry bookkeeping together with IT-based monthly inventories and continuous monitoring,” Jäger says. DACHSER also operates two sorting facilities for pallets and contracts licensed companies to repair damaged pallets, thus actively contributing to ensuring the quality of the pool as a whole. “In addition, we are involved in GS1 so we can help define guidance and quality criteria,” adds Jäger.

With all of DACHSER’s network expertise

On one point, Müller is crystal clear: “We have an advantage in the packaging material service in that here, too, we can rely on our high-performance European network. DACHSER’s continuous investment in people and technology pays off. It allows us to avoid losses resulting from incorrect use of packaging material, while also permitting us to consider ecological, economic, and logistical aspects in optimizing returns to the original consignor.”

And it’s the customers who stand to benefit as DACHSER offers them a comprehensive, no-worry packaging material plan. “Within our network, they can rely on the exact type of packaging material they require being available whenever they like—even during peak times,” Müller explains. “This is an added-value service that our customers appreciate, but as it takes a great deal of our time and effort.”

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