There are several factors that determine the choice of a shipping container. Such factors include the weight of the product being packed, the strength of the product, the values of the product, and conditions surrounding the shipment of the product such as exposure to moist environments. The choice of the correct shipment container is significant to ensure successful transfer of the product through the different levels of the supply chain. In the supply chain, the shipment containers available include the paper based, wood based, and plastic based shipping containers. Each of these types of shipping containers have their advantages and disadvantages based on the aforementioned factors such as the strength, weight, and value of the products as well as the conditions of the shipment of the product. This paper compares the advantages and the disadvantages of these shipping containers and suggests the best shipping containers relevant for different shipping conditions.
Wood-based shipping containers are some of the oldest shipping containers. Wood has been used to manufacture shipping materials in different countries for hundreds of years. It has been basically used for pallet boxes, pallets, wire bound containers, and crates. As indicated in the above paragraph, wood based shipping containers have their advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages of wood based shipping containers include the following. First, due to the flexibility of shaping and resizing, wood can be used to construct containers with varied sizes and shapes according to the sizes and shapes of the products using power or hand driven tools.
Secondly, since wood does not corrode, the wood based shipping materials are highly durable. The quantity of entrapped air as well as the fibrous structure of wood based containers provides them with perfect insulation properties. Finally, these containers are also strong and do not bend to damage the products. The disadvantages of wood based shipping containers include the bulky nature of the containers, thereby taking up much space during storage. Secondly, wood is moisture sensitive, which makes it change and wrap with changes in humidity. The extra hired laborers to build and assemble the wood based shipping containers might cost the shipping firm much money.
Paper based shipping containers can be used for shipping a range of products including packaged products, produce, and meat products among several other products. The advantages of these shipping containers include the fact that corrugated boxes are sustainable, lightweight, and versatile. Additionally, the paper based shipping containers can be made into different custom-manufactured shipping containers due to the flexibility of the paper materials. On their environmental effects, the wood based shipping containers are environmental friendly because they are both reusable and recyclable. In addition, the compostable nature of the paper materials ensures that the wastes or used boxes do not form landfills. The paper based shipping containers do not consume large spaces during the shipments because of their small widths. The cost of acquiring and handling the paper based shipping containers is equally low. On the other hand, the paper based shipping containers have their disadvantages. First, the paper based shipping containers are susceptible to moist weather conditions such as snow or rains. Long shipments will also disfigure the paper based shipping containers since they might lose shape. Finally, apart from the moist weather conditions, moist products cannot be shipped in paper based shipping containers.
Plastic based shipping containers include plastic crates, boxes, and other plastic containers. There are several advantages of plastic based shipping containers. However, the cost saving capabilities of the plastic based shipping containers is the most outstanding. These shipping containers can be reused to reduce costs of purchasing new shipping containers. The plastic based shipping containers are available in different shapes and sizes according to the nature, type, and shape of the product. Additionally, plastic containers are easy to disinfect and clean. They are also strong and weather resistant since they are water resistant, and can be used in highly humid areas or to transport liquid products. They also require less manual handling and use less storage space. On the other hand, plastic based shipping containers include the following. Due to their reusability, the plastic crates and boxes occupy similar spaces on their return journey as the initial spaces on the first trip. Emptying the pallet boxes requires much financial investment. Additionally, the larger volumes of the plastic based containers lead to the destruction of the products during the filling and emptying of the pallets. Since the plastic based shipping containers have chemical compositions, they are not friendly to reactant products and some foods since they might react. Purchasing the crates and boxes might also increase the costs of shipment.
Prior to selecting the type of shipping container, a number of factors are significantly observed. These factors are aimed at ensuring that the products reach their destinations at the lowest costs and with maximum safety precautions observed. The wood based, paper based, and plastic based shipping containers are usually used in the shipping supply chain. However, due to their advantages and disadvantages, there is no universal shipping material, which can be used for all types of products and in all shipping conditions. Therefore, it is important to select the best shipping container for the product based on the aforementioned factors.
Leo M. L. (2012). Handbook of Meat, Poultry and Seafood Quality. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.