We sort through the tiresome marketing jargon to identify the real innovations in packaging for automotive, and report on the benefits
Innovation is among those words editors should always treat with scepticism (other bugbears include optimisation, continuous improvement and synergy). A purchasing manager or logistics executive should use no less caution when evaluating the promises of such ideas among its suppliers and logistics providers, as wasting time on empty words help the bottom line no more than shipping empty air.
On the other hand, these are all words that, for better or worse, form the lingua franca of automotive logistics jargon, and there is only so much this magazine can do to avoid them. For this new feature in the magazine, we are trying our best to define innovation by example.
The transport industry has fundamental characteristics that are unlikely to change anytime soon, and so it goes for a commodity like packaging. But that does not discount the potential for real developments in the supply chain, for which packaging plays a ubiquitous role from the factory to warehouse and everything in between.
The formula for determining our most interesting packaging innovations is simple: we wanted to see something done that has been tested or implemented recently, so as to be as close to what is genuinely “new” as packaging can get.
Second, we wanted to have the benefits clearly demonstrated, calculated and confirmed: our top three innovators all have the backing of an OEM or customer that can quantify financial savings and better performance.
Innovation needn’t be revolution. In logistics, change is often measured in knocking a few pence off a part or pallet, and this goes a long way. We believe the three cases described below – a new set of standard packaging equipment from warehouse to factory for MTU Detroit Diesel, Odette’s RFID standards for container tracking, and a new dunnage system by MJ Systems – stand out in particular. However, see our “honourable mentions” for a range of other good ideas happening across the sector.