Implementing Reusables

Reusables can create significant cost savings, a reduction in waste and a more environmentally friendly plant. However, implementing the system will be costly. You must buy all of the products to replace the ones that you would normally throw away, for example. Reusables are durable goods and do cost more than a shipment of the single use products you normally use. The reason is that the single-use products are purchased continuously while the reusables are only purchased when they wear down. However, initial costs are only one of the  many things you must consider before heading feet first into the world of industrial reusables.


Reusable containers will become a part of your routine maintenance schedule, as they are durable goods that experience wear and breakage. Most companies utilize a third party for the reusables, which eliminates the need for extensive inspection, repair and replacement arrangements within the company itself. (However, each company is responsible for the damage done to the containers in their possession.)

Third Party Dependence

Renting the reusables is the most popular method for implementing a reusables system. It cuts down on the cost of initiating the system, as the only things you buy are the equipment needed to work with the reusables, and an ongoing rental contract. Dependence on this third party requires trust in the way that the rental company conducts itself. You must also depend on their inspection processes to replace broken and worn containers. Slow shipments and even the choice of contracted shipping services may be a part of the bargain. Renting the container essentially opens you up to a dependence on a new company, so it’s important to do your homework before entering into an agreement.

Equipment Modification or Purchase

You must consider that your current equipment may not accommodate a reusable container. Modifications to your packaging, transport and equipment used to move the containers within the plant are just a few modifications to consider. You may have to upgrade older equipment as well.

Cost of Reverse Logistics

A new concept that companies learns when using reusables is the reverse logistics. Once the containers leave your plant, they are off to their destination. Unlike the single-use containers, the reusables are not done with their job when they are emptied. Instead, the containers are returned to the rental company for reuse. In the retail industry, these empties are used to send defective  and return items back to the manufacturer. The unused containers accompany them and the cycle begins again.

Reverse logistics simply refers to the plan used to get the containers back home. You may use them for returns or send them back empty for constant reuse. Whatever your plan entails, it will cost a fee for reverse logistics.

Implementing reusables is an important step toward cost reduction and a greener plant. Before taking the plunge into this world, carefully consider the options available, in order to avoid any surprises down the road.

Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and installation of factory automation systems worldwide.

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