Plasgad’s advanced folding crate series; the ultimate solution for lettuce imports
By Tali Feingold, International Sales Manager
First exposed to the Plasgad brand at Fruit Logistica, Fresh Servant imports agricultural products to Finland. The company had been looking for a unique solution to import lettuce: A solution that could keep the produce fresh, while still saving storage space on receipt of the produce, at the end of the cycle.
As part of the collaborative work with the client we examined the five optional heights in the PG series to determine which would be the most appropriate and efficient for the customer’s needs.
For this purpose, samples of two heights were sent, the PG6415 and PG6418. Beyond the need to find the appropriate height, the customer also wanted to check the quality and durability of the crates. After receiving the samples Fresh Servant expressed a high level of satisfaction. The crates were easy to operate and despite their light weight, demonstrated strength and durability. In addition, another significant advantage for the transportation phase was the smooth surface area which prevents injury to produce.
All that remained, to be certain of the crate’s suitability, was to check the height at the beginning of the harvest season. More comprehensive testing at the beginning of the season saw the lettuces directly harvested into the crates and the ideal height was established as 150 mm.
The crates were then sent to the Dutch territories. From there the complete process was carried out that included the harvesting stage, packing the produce and shipping to their destination in Finland.
Indeed, the produce arrived fresh and crisp just as we expected! Furthermore, the crates advanced stacking capabilities, saving storage space at the end of use for the next cycle, proved to be an efficient and cost-effective advantage.
In conclusion, based on the requirements set forth at the beginning of the process, the experiment in the practical use stacking crates was crowned a resounding success.
As a manufacturer of reusable plastic products, we are particularly proud to be able to provide the perfect solution for all parties involved. This project demonstrates the importance of an open communication channel, enabling us to understand the customer’s exact needs and ensuring that we provide the best, most appropriate and cost-effective solution.
Moving Forward – Revolutionary Packaging Solution Completed by Milopri
Milopri, part of the Milouot complex, in collaboration with Plasgad have upgraded the packing and shipping system, evolving from cardboard crates to disposable plastic crates.
Milopri, joint owned by a collaborative of 25 kibbutzim in the Western Galilee, is one of the largest packaging houses in Israel for avocado and lychee and located near Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra in the north. Milopri’s main goal is to bring maximum value to growers for their products, while constantly expanding to provide fresh and high-quality produce to the customers in the local market. In recent years, 20,000 to 26,000 tons are packaged in packing facilities, representing about 25% of Israel’s total crop and about one third of the country’s avocado exports. Approximately 75% are marketed for export – primarily to Western Europe. The main variety of avocado is Haas with further varieties for export including Ettinger, Pinkerton, Fuerte, Ardit, Reed and more.
Milopri has until now exported and marketed their products in cardboard crates. In recent years, as part of streamlining process, the company has understood that moving to plastic crates will be advantageous in terms of better preserving produce, saving costs and making a significant contribution to the environment. Milopri decided to contact Plasgad, specialists in advanced packaging solutions, in order to research and test an efficient packaging solution that could fully meet the company’s needs. The point-of-contact and driving force behind the project is Mr. Ben Vardi, Vice President of Operations for Milopri.
In the interests of best serving the project, a dedicated team was built, comprised of sales, development and operation personnel on behalf of the two companies, Plasgad and Milopri. With unprecedented cooperation, a solution was built to suit the unique needs of Milopri. The process included careful examination of the existing system and understanding the entire process lifecycle: From the moment fruit was received and packaged right up until delivery to its destination, whether locally or the international market. A weak point was identified in the current process requiring a smart solution that could be functional, effective and economical. Led by Iftah Poran, VP Development at Plasgad and Michal Moses, Product Manager at Plasgad, a number of options were developed in order to offer a solution that could suit the requirements and needs of Milopri.
The solution that was created for Milopri is the “Breeze” crate, an ultra light-weight, disposable crate designed for fruit shipping that has not yet ripened (but not exclusively). The Breeze crate is intended to remain in the steam room, based on an advanced engineering design that allows maximum ventilation. As a result, despite being a light disposable box, it is particularly strong. The highlight of the new crate’s functionality, already earning it a registered patent, is a control opening allowing fruit to be sampled from the any crate in the bulk – without the need to cut the crate or unpack the pallet. All information relevant to a crate’s contents were previously attached to the cardboard boxes by means of a sticker and manually marked. Today they are printed directly on the plastic crate as part of an automated production line.
The Breeze crates have already entered the Milopri packing and delivery system. The next stage will play an important role for the company in maintaining sustainability and the environment – the collection and recycling of crates at endpoints for the production of new crates.
Ben Vardi, VP of Operations at Milopri, explained the driving force behind the company’s search for a new packaging solution: “The Milopri philosophy is that to remain a leading supplier of avocados, it is important to analyze over the years what our clients need, both in terms of exports and the local market, bringing fresh produce to the home consumer of the highest quality, at the highest level. I believe that the solution we created in working with Plasgad reflects this concept. We are indeed able to leapfrog to a new standard, providing a quality and
convenient solution for both our customers and the environment. ”
Alon Kadosh, VP Sales Israel added: “Milopri approached Plasgad after reviewing the market and reaching the conclusion that Plasgad is the company most able to provide a quality solution for the export of fruit around the world. Milopri can enjoy the Plasgad technological advantages at its disposal, adapting a unique and high-end crate that can save money throughout the export chain and best protect the fruit as it is transported during the ripening process. All this was made possible thanks to the elevated level of cooperation throughout the process and appreciation of a mutual commitment. ”
The Rami Levy retail chain started out as a small grocery store. Today, it is the largest retail chain in Israel, whose goal is to provide customers with a broad range of products at the lowest prices in the area where a branch is located.
A Rami Levy owned subsidiary is responsible for all the agricultural produce that reaches its branches. Menashe Kadouri, the Purchasing Manager for Rami Levy– activity in the Vegetable segment was looking for an alternative solution to meet the new logistics center’s needs. This initial conversation led the two companies to collaborate in an interesting and challenging development process that took approximately one year and concluded with the Power pallet.
At the beginning of the process, the sales team was presented with the minimum requirements the pallets needed to meet. This included durability in performing multiple work rounds and ensuring a comprehensive solution at every stage of the work cycle:
- Workplace functionality when loading produce
- Easy and convenient processing at the packing house
- Optimal performance at the company’s logistics center, including the ability to load up to 1,000 Kg on the high rack \ of racking
- Arrival at supermarkets – rapid unloading, whilst ensuring that pallet weights are not too heavy for field personnel
- Return to the logistics center and repeating the cycle
Beyond these requirements, some further key points were included: The 1100X1100 dimensions adapted to the vegetable crates, preventing plastic crates from sliding off the pallet and the challenging ratio of pallet weight and load capabilities – the pallet must carry heavy loads (dynamic and static) whilst still maintaining a lightweight.
The R&D team began intensive work on creating a suitable crate. The process included a tour of all of the customer’s working locations and discussions with the teams at each stage to achieve a thorough understanding of the needs involved. This included several experiments and field tests until the desired result was achieved.
According to Michal Moses, Product Manager at Plasgad’s R&D Department: “The customer works mainly with “2/3” and “45” crates. However, there are a variety of cardboard boxes and other types of packaging that are used and loaded onto the plastic pallets, making a safety rim for the pallets is out of the question. Therefore, we created sockets on the surface of the pallet to support the base of the plastic crates (like lego cubes) and prevent slipping. All without the need for a safe rim.
To meet the demands of racking, while satisfying the maximum weight requirements for the pallet, we chose a design that combines steel rods inside the pallet’s plastic structure. During the design stages, we conducted experiments and analysis to establish the optimal plastic pallet that, together with the rods, will give the required strength to the pallet.
After receiving the product, we conducted experiments to ensure it complies with all the customer’s requirements and stringent safety standards. Working on the pallet was interesting and challenging and has opened new doors in the development of additional Euro pallets of this type in Euro and Iso ”
Today we are pleased and proud to say that the serial production of the crate has begun in June 2018 right after the mold arrived at the production site in Israel.
Caja Systems was founded based on a deep understanding of the world of manual warehouses and an appreciation for the increasing need for intelligent automated systems in advanced warehouse management. As e-commerce gains momentum, along with the demand for streamlined processes in the B2B world, there is an increasing need for innovative, cost-effective thinking. In response, Caja Systems offers the ultimate solution: Autonomous robotic systems adapted for any application, from manual to computerized working environments undergoing system upgrades. System management is performed via cloud technology. This offers a significant advantage that enables customers maximum flexibility and full support as and when needed, such as during high pressure periods, or unexpected high-volume situations.
Ilan Kalfon, Plasgad Sales Manager, recognized the potential of the collaboration and understood that Plasgad’s packaging solutions could be the perfect fit for Caja’s working methods. The first connection was made with Caja’s Purchasing Manager Eyal Mizrachi, who had liked the system and envisioned Plasgad’s solution as playing a critical role in the systems manufactured by Caja. The initial partnership between the companies was established following the need to present the system at an international exhibition. The engineering department was presented with several options that could work in line with the robots. A foldable crate from the PG series crate was selected at the end of this process. The PG family offers a crate with innovative design and is available in five different heights. The products many advantages include: Advanced patented international locking mechanism, ergonomic handles, smooth surfaces that protect content and a high folding ratio for space saving. The folding crate was considered the optimal choice due to the significant on-the-spot savings. The crates were presented as part of an automated system at an advanced logistics solutions exhibition held annually in China. The merger of crates and robots proved of great interest to the exhibition visitors. They enjoyed an impressive display of the robots’ capabilities in combination with the crates’ functionality for ease-of-use in the work cycle.
According to Eyal Mizrahi, Caja’s Purchasing Manager: “We were very satisfied with the product both in terms of quality and design. The crates attracted a great deal of attention during the exhibition and had a very positive effect of the booth. We are currently testing the crates in our Logistics Warehouses for work quality and cohesion with our robots. In addition, we were very happy with the fast and efficient service we received from the Plasgad team throughout the process, from defining our needs to the rapid response and on-time delivery in a very short time-frame.”
Ilan Kalfon added, “Thanks to the advanced technology and creative solutions, it is now possible to reinvent solutions, even in less familiar areas. Companies identify systems, like those produced by Caja, as being synonymous with efficiency and savings, and here I see Plasgad fitting in. I believe this field will expand, and companies on a wider scale will assimilate such systems. I have met remarkable and talented people at Caja Systems and I have no doubt that they will succeed. ”