The term “transport items” has many synonyms that are used in transport and logistics. There are different ways to explain what transport items are and when to use these. It depends on whether if we talk about single-use or reusable transport items.

Transport item meaning

There are different transport item synonyms, for example: packaging, packaging material, reusable transport item, recyclable articles, packages, load carriers, returnable transport items (RTI), and a few more.

Basically, the function of such an item is to enable an efficient transportation of the goods from A to B whereby transport items ensure the protection of goods and their efficient handling.

Transport items are defined as follows:

Transport items are all products, made of materials of whatever nature, that can be used for packaging, enclosing, protecting, shipping, delivering and offering other products, from raw materials to finished products, over the entire process from producer to user or consumer.

Packaging and transport items can include many more items than people will realize. Every logistic process has to deal with transport items at one point. The logistic process covers the entire supply chain, from raw materials to the final product. Returnable items are used in almost every supply chain.

Single-use transport item

Single-use items are designed in such a way that they can be disposed of after use. The transport item has limited or no value after use. The single-use transport item or packaging is often made from recycled materials. There are also single-use items that can’t be reused after use, because they lose their form and function. Examples of packaging that lose their form and function are: cardboard (boxes), bags, fruit- and vegetable trays and fruit boxes.

Examples of transport items that are made of recycled materials include are disposable pallets, black buckets and key kegs. Some of these can often be used a second or third time, but the costs are already settled at the first time of use.

The purchase value of single-use transport items or packaging is relatively low. Sometimes the buyer also has to pay part of these costs. The amount that has to be paid depends on the moment in the supply chain. It is important to know that single-use items can be harmful to the environment. If possible, they have to be recycled and can eventually be re-processed into a new transport item or packaging item. Returnable transport items are processed less frequently, which means that it is less harmful to the environment. If you want a clear CSR strategy for your company, don’t forget to include transport items in this strategy.

Returnable transport items

Returnable items are designed to be used several times for the same transport purpose. When receiving transport items, it is often not possible to return the packaging directly because there are still goods on them however. After the goods are removed from the transport item, storage space is often required. If there is no proper packaging management on reusable items, it can happen that a large inventory of transport items is created, without the company being aware of it. Also, due to their nature, returnable items represent a higher value per item, so the total inventory value can be significant. Proper packaging management can therefore represent / create a great value within a company.

Since returnable (multi-use) transport items can be used more often, the costs should be considered over their whole lifetime. Despite higher costs per unit, the costs per usage can achually be cheaper than with one-off packaging. The number of times you can use a multiple item (during the average lifetime) drives down the cost per usage: the more / longer you can use the item, the cheaper the usage becomes.

Registration and administration

Roll containers, bread crates, Euro pallets, cage container, glass/plate container, meat boxes, beer kegs, trailers, etc. are all examples of returnable items. These are suitable for a sustainable economy. However, it is difficult to realize a sustainable economy if there is little attention for these load carriers.

It is estimated that  between 4 to 8% of the returnable items are lost, damaged or stolen. Transport items are given to transporters and they never actually return. In addition they are put in a corner of the warehouse and nobody notices them. There is no real focus on transport items at many companies, which makes it unclear where the current stock is.  Since such Returnable items can represent a substantial inventory value, it is worthwhile to register and administer them.

When you register all flows and transactions with transport items you have real-time insight in terms of location, movements and associated costs. With this knowledge, you can work more efficiently, saving associated cost and capital and contribute to a more sustainable management of your company’s packaging items!

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