Supply chain plays an important role in the distribution and delivery of goods to various destinations. It however relies on special containers thatare used for handling different kinds of goods across the entire supply chain. There are therefore various shipping containers which are used within the supply chain, with a shipment container basically being a handling unit which is used for moving goods and products from one location to the other (Chakraverty, 2003). These have different characteristics, advantages and disadvantages hence being suitable in ferrying goods across the supply chain. Such examples of containers may be made of paper, wood and plastic with each being advantageous when used in a particular way within the supply chain.
There are other certain commodities that need wooden containers in the form of crates for them to be moved along the supply chain. However, this depends on the nature and type of productsto be shipped. Wooden containers primarily are wooden crates which are made of normal wooden materials, which are then customized into given shapes for the purposes of storing goods along the supply chain. Generally, wood has various advantages compared to plastic and paper based shipment containers, in that they are much stronger and can accommodate various kinds of goods of different weights therefore being the best to ferry heavy items (“What are the Advantages of using Custom Wood Containers for B2B?” n.d).
This is because, as compared to paper and plastic shipping containers, wood is relatively strongwhich makes it durable when used to ship heavy items which as well can be usedacross nearly every stage in the supply chain. For instance, it can be used to move raw materials and finished products.In other scenarios, given the configuration of most wooden shipping containers, wood can relatively be used to ship perishable products such as fruits due to how it is constructed, hence as compared to plastic and paper, it would most likely suit various circumstances in the supply chain.
In addition to this, its strength enables it to be stackable in that it can be stacked on top of others hence minimizing space as it is carried along the supply chain hence being the best in transporting bulky goods where space is critical. Despite its benefits in other areas within the supply chain, wood tends to consume much space given that it is bulky. This is because bulky containers need more space compared to the normal ones given the space attribute.
This also on the other hand may have an effect on the logistical cost (Twede et al, 2015), especially if the wood containers are to be used for transporting goods over a long distance as shipping lines would charge more depending on the space covered by the containers. Given that wood is always preserved before being used in designing wooden crates, the wooden containers may also pose a health risk especially if they come into contact with food. This may as wellhave an effect on the quality of food products.
Paper shipping container
Paper based shipping container is also beneficial and disadvantageous in some areas along the supply chain. In most circumstances, paper is made in the configuration of carton boxes which can fairly be used in almost all stages within the supply chain. Paper for instance is quite light in weight as compared to plastic and wooden shipping containers (Klatch, 2005).
This makes it beneficial among the shipping containers in terms of weight and cost during the shipment process. Given that paper is a light weight material, it can be used in many areas of shipment including flight and road transport and can also accommodate various types of commodities across the supply chain. In addition to this, paper tendsto be easy to use compared to the others hence can be a plus when it comes to handling.
In addition to the above, since the paper is light, it provides the most affordable solution for ferrying food products such as fruits and also provides the cost efficient method of shipping goods through the air or freight as it tends to consume much less space hence minimizing the cost element along the supply chain.Paper as a shipping solution is also reusable in the sense that it can be regenerated with much ease and be used to ship goods across the entire supply chain thereby making it a cost effective option either during the actual shipment or when procuring container-based paper solution, while also can be expensive as it may require special vessels during shipment thereby attracting high transport and insurance costs.
Despite its cost and weight factors, paper based shipping containeris much sensitive to weather in that it can easily be destroyed by water and other solvents unlike plastic and wooden that can withstand some weather element such as rain. This makes the paper based shipping container less useful in outdoor environments that can be prone to rain and mist, unlike plastic and wood that can overcome such unfavorable weather elements.
Plastic based shipment container
Plastic shipping containers are also used in the supply chain however not as compared to wooden and paper based shipment containers. This is because they are much limited and cannot be used to carry heavy materials. These kind of containers are also made of polymeric materials which make them hard thereby making them to overcome the rough shipment terrains. The main advantage of plastic containers is that they are cost effective compared to the wooden containers. This is because they can be recycled and be re-used along the supply chain hence being more cost effective as compared to the others (Kutz, 2007).
In as much as they are light and cannot be used in carrying heavy materials, plastic containers can also be used in carrying a number of products since they come in different varieties. This makes them good in shipping different items of various sizes. In addition to this, compared to wooden and paper based containers, plastic containers can also be used for carrying goods under humid conditions thereby presenting a good option for other goods which cannot be shipped using either paper or wooden containers.
In as much as plastic shipping containers are light and re-usable, their use tends to be expensive within the shipping line. This is due to their re-usability where companies supplying the products to overseas markets would always ship the containers back for re-use. This brings up the cost of using them as freight charges are doubled as compared to paper and plastic that can be left at the destination.
The plastic, wooden and paper based containers are beneficial and disadvantageous in various scenarios across the supply chain depending on the nature and type of products. However, they are still used in different areas hence a lifeline of opportunities for the containers.
Chakraverty, A. (2003). Handbook of postharvest technology: Cereals, fruits, vegetables, tea, and spices. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Klatch, W. (2005). Supply chain for liquids: Out of the box approaches to liquid logistics. Boca Raton, Fla: Auerbach Publications.
Kutz, M. (2007). Environmentally conscious manufacturing. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.
Twede, D., Selke, S. E. M., Kamdem, D.-P., & Shires, D. B. (2014). Cartons, crates and corrugated board: Handbook of paper and wood packaging technology.
What are the Advantages of using Custom Wood Containers for B2B? | Arnold’s Factory Supplies. (2014).