The automotive industry was severely hit by the economic crunch of 2007-2008 and its key players were forced to make drastic changes to stay in the game. One of the major changes brought about by the new conditions of the global economy was the close monitoring of costs. Logistic and packaging were among the first cost categories to go under scrutiny.
Back in 2008, one of the most innovative and successful car makers in the world drew the attention to the fact that “packaging should be a key factor in cutting overall logistic costs”. As time passed, this statement was proven right by the evolution trend for the packaging solutions dedicated to the auto industry.
The Production Cycle Influences Logistic and Packaging Choices
The main aspect which led to the change in the whole way packaging materials for the automotive industry are designed and manufactured is the way this industry works. Decades ago, cars were designed, manufactured and assembled in one place, or with the help of suppliers located in the close proximity of the main manufacturing facility.
At the present, cars are designed in the head offices, parts are manufactured in different countries and get shipped from one facility to another, until they reach the assembly line and the car rolls out. This new manufacturing process involves a lot of packaging moving from one manufacturing plant to another, then to a central warehouse and finally towards the assembly plant.
The Time of Heavy Metallic Containers Are Gone
Traditionally, large car parts were shipped in sturdy metallic containers. This was the standard of the industry and nobody questioned its feasibility or cost efficiency. However, given the changed economic and manufacturing conditions, some significant deficiencies were noted in these containers:
- They are heavy and take up a lot of trailer space when returned empty
- They can only carry a limited load of actual products
- They have a short life span
- They can be contaminated with rust
- They cannot guarantee that the contents are not tampered with.
Once these major deficiencies became blatant, it was clear for all car manufacturers that they had to replace these packaging materials with more cost effective logistic and packaging solutions.
Galia and VDA – the New Stars of the Game
The European automotive industry is one of the most powerful in the world, with a long tradition for innovation and excellence. The French and German automotive industries have reached the level of specialization and development that allows them to create their own standards, even in terms of packaging.
The Galia organization in France favors a range of specialized plastic crates and containers featuring integrated label holders on the long and short sides to help identify the stored parts and a sturdy build to withstand heavy loads. The Galia containers are available both in the rigid and foldable versions, to help minimize logistic and transportation costs and offer a solution for any requirements.
The German VDA organization has created different principles: different ranges of the same basic KLT model to suit different needs:
- The C-KLT range is the sturdiest and most reliable type of VDA approved container, featuring a ribbed base which facilitates stacking and use on conveyor belts;
- The R-KLT is a lightweight version of the C-KLT model, offering the same sturdy build in a simpler design;
- The RL-KLT container has a flat base, minimal design and a light weight, making it the ideal choice for light and medium loads;
- The F-KLT foldable container is available in one footprint size and with either flat or ribbed base.
In this way, the automotive industry has proven its maturity – its ability to adapt and survive, to discover new logistic and packaging solutions which reduce costs through extended usage, lower transportation costs on the return journey of the empty packages, and superior protection offered to the stored goods through the use of specialized design and high quality materials.