More and more FMCG manufacturers are opting for returnable transit packaging (RTP), thanks to the significant cost savings and environmental benefits it can deliver. But what should logistics managers look for when choosing RTP options, and how can they best consider pallet hygiene?
For the UK’s food and drink manufacturers, the benefits of RTP are clear. By reducing the amount of one trip-packaging used, organisations can not only save costs on purchasing replacement pallets but also create significant carbon savings. This is increasingly important as businesses seek to meet more stringent corporate social responsibility guidelines on sustainability.
In most cases, however, this is where businesses stop thinking about packaging. In doing so, they ignore what is perhaps the most important stage of the process – the maintenance of the packaging. After all, this is an area in which logistics managers can not only make huge improvements in efficiencies – saving money and boosting sustainability – but also ensure they get the right return on their investment. RTP is a long term investment and therefore needs to be maintained to ensure it delivers the right return.
One aspect of pallet maintenance that is particularly crucial, especially for businesses operating within the FMCG sphere, is pallet hygiene. A build-up of dirt and debris can remain undetected until the packaging is rejected by the receiver. In this instance, it can be very expensive for manufacturers to bring the RTP back to standard, something which can undo all of the previous savings made by choosing RTP.
One way businesses can improve pallet hygiene and increase business efficiency is by using a washing and servicing provider. In this instance, all packaging is checked as part of the process and is inspected for damage at each point in the closed loop cycle, allowing pallet and crate companies to maintain their products and lengthen their lifespan. Importantly, using a specialist provider also means businesses don’t have to worry about maintenance and hygiene. That time can then be spent on other areas of operations.
To get the most out of a washing and servicing provider, FMCG manufacturers should use a business that not only cleans visible debris, but also sanitises packaging to a food grade acceptability standard.
At PSE, we have developed a bespoke process which provides a thorough wash, inspection and repair service to ensure a high standard of pallet hygiene.
The first stage is a preliminary inspection, where staff can report any major issues and initial fixes and repairs can be made. The next step is a multi-staged wash process. This is a two temperature wash procedure designed to manage the removal of debris, proteins and fats. Despite popular belief, it is unnecessary to use extreme temperatures or a high concentrate of chemicals to effectively treat packaging. A successful pallet wash, is down to a careful combination of time spent in the wash process, amount of water, its angle and the pressure.
The initial stage of the PSE process washes at 45 centigrade, which is warm enough to remove the debris, followed by a second wash at 55 degrees centigrade. After the wash stages, the equipment is rinsed with potable water, then processed through a two stage drying section, ensuring the pallets are dried in a format which is suitable for the industry in which it will operate. Upon completion of the cycle, a thorough bio test is carried out, which verifies surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned.
RTP is increasingly becoming the packaging method of choice for the food and drink industry. However, for businesses to truly maximise the economic and sustainability benefits of RTP, it’s crucial not to overlook the maintenance and hygiene standards needed to uphold the quality of the equipment . Pallet washing is an exact science, and by getting it right and making sure all aspects of the crate are covered, RTP can take care of itself and deliver significant return on investment for businesses.