Many brilliant innovations are not invented by technological geniuses who have an epiphany but are based on a simple idea that takes root in the minds of people with hands-on experience.
The origin of Stackabox reusable bulk container has the same technical development grassroots. Stackabox, the innovative bulk container that can be used to dispense, store and transport preformed components, was developed on the job by two colleagues that saw the need for improving the current solution. Both the initial concept and the current Stackabox version collapses once it is emptied to efficiently optimize its transportation back to its original location and re-used once again.
The story of the Stackabox can be tracked back to 2007 at a Coca Cola Enterprise factory where operators wondered if there was a more durable and sustainable solution to store and transport preform components. Two colleagues began working on a wooden collapsible prototype container. Their goal was to make a bigger, foldable container with multiple dispensing possibilities. The previous packaging could hold up only to 2,000 preforms, and they were aiming five to ten times higher. Another plastic packaging was as big empty as they were full, so the volume of the return transport equaled the original transport. Adrian and Phil strived to do three times better, with a fold-down ratio of 1/3, 5.
The wooden prototype was a useful example of the concept in mind, but a later polypropylene version got people across the industry really interested. Both perform component manufacturers as well as big bottling companies saw the advantages of a more durable collapsible container.
Around this time, the concept crossed the path of DW Reusables, and it was rapidly perfected and integrated into their larger product portfolio that consists mainly of reusable injection moulded plastics’ bottle crates and pallets. This process was a natural symbiosis since the larger part of the company’s clients are active in the beverage and filling industry.
The final, perfected product boasts a number of advantages over previous storage and transport solutions. The sturdy injection moulded polypropylene bulk container guarantees an almost endless lifecycle and allows for hundreds of voyages between the producers and their customers. Stackabox’s bottom serves as a pallet thus eliminating the risks associated with odor contamination, of wooden pallets. A few other features include Stackabox’s smooth interior for easy and thorough cleansing; built-in lids that prevent dirt to get in; and easy addition and removal of liners or dividers.
Stackabox is revolutionizing transport and handling in the world of preform components. With Stackabox, a single operator can erect the box in 30 seconds before filling. Once full, it is easily handled with forklifts (FLTs), without the need for separate wooden pallets. Moreover, the absence of a center skid at the base minimizes the possible damage done. Traditional pallets suffer most of the damage at the center skid during automatic handling.
A standard transport container will hold 52 full Stackaboxes, and most can hold two full Stackabox stacked for a total of 102 Stackaboxes. To fit regional size variations in transport, Stackabox comes in three distinct sizes: Maxi (1350 L), Medium (1187 L) and Compact (1030 L). The tare weight ranges from 78 to 72 kg, and the payload is 500 kg equal for all varieties.
However, the most innovative aspect of Stackabox is the perfect integration of the existing production lines of beverage and filling companies. These global players are always looking for a faster pace in every segment of its production line. The new state of the art blowing and filling lines run at 40.000 bottles an hour. Considering a Stackabox will hold around 10.000 of 38g preforms or 60.000 closing capsules, a total of around four boxes have to be dispensed every hour per line. This is only feasible with a fully automated dispensing system and Stackabox fits perfectly in this concept.
Stackabox patented design makes it the only bulk container that has top and bottom dispensing in a wide variety of existing dispensing frames. Bottom dispensing is becoming the overall preferred system because it has the unique advantage to decrease damage to the bottleneck of the preforms, by smoothly sliding the preforms in the hopper of the filling line, but the flexibility of the Stackabox allows integration in every imaginable automated system. Even automated folding and erecting of an empty Stackabox by means of a folding robot is possible. Afterward, 182 folded Stackaboxes, stacked seven high can make the return trip to the preform producers in one trailer.
Stackabox reusable containers have been in use for five years which is not long enough to make adequate conclusions about the maximum life span, but it is possible to make hundreds of round trips with each box. Those trips aren’t the end of its lifecycle, because the polypropylene raw material is one hundred percent recyclable and it can be re-used over again for the production of new containers or other plastic items.
Stackabox is rapidly becoming the standard in the industry, and it is likely that other industries will follow.