Five hundred million tomatoes – that is roughly the amount the APS Group grows every year. It is the UK’s largest supplier of British tomatoes to the high street and responsible for around 30 per cent of production in the country. As the operation continued to grow in complexity, APS Group looked to develop its supply chain further to enhance productivity and efficiency. It turned to Polymer Logistics for a solution.
After a careful review of APS Groups’ current operating model, it became apparent to Polymer Logistics that the most effective way to improve efficiency was to change the types of reusable packaging the company used at key stages of its supply chain. As no existing product was able to address all issues, it offered to develop a bespoke (custom) solution consisting of three different types of products, delivered as a pooling service.
Shallow reusable crates improve product protection, increase pack density
The first step was to replace the crates APS Group used to transport the tomatoes from greenhouses to the packhouse. The company had been using deep crates from another manufacturer, but for fear of damaging the products, APS was not able to fill them to the top. Unsurprisingly, this practice was inefficient and costly, as a significant part of each truckload was filled with air.
To reduce the risk of damage to the tomatoes while ensuring that the full capacity of the tray could be utilised, Polymer Logistics replaced the deep crates with its Polynest shallow trays. The low crates are lightweight, nestable, and stackable, ideal for optimising space during storage and transport while the durable design ensures that products are fully protected throughout the journey. The new crates have had a significant impact on productivity, as APS can now use all available space in each crate, knowing that the products would reach the supermarkets in perfect condition.
Hygienic pallets prevent the spread of contamination
Next, Polymer Logistics focused on enhancing hygiene in greenhouse operations, replacing the existing solution with its Cleanpal pallets. Unlike wood pallets, plastic is non-permeable and easy to clean. Preventing contamination is vital to protecting profitability. In the case of a tomato brown rugose fruit virus infection, for example, the entire crop would need to be destroyed to control its spread. Cleanpal pallets also offer a range of benefits when it comes to storage and worker safety. Weighing just 15 kg, it takes only one person to move them, improving productivity. Furthermore, the nestable design, with a 3:1 nesting ratio, enables significant space savings during storage.
Universal Display Pallets offer display-ready solution, minimizing replenishment costs
Finally, to move the tomatoes from storage to store as smoothly as possible, Polymer Logistics provided APS Group with Universal Display Pallets (UDP). They are easy and secure to stack, saving truck and storage space, and once the products reach the store, the pallet and its contents are instantly ready for display. The unique design minimises replenishment costs while maximising in-store availability, and, like most polymer crates, the pallets are hygienic and easy to clean.
“We needed a comprehensive solution that would enable us to protect the quality of our products while introducing new efficiency into our supply chain,” stated Dave Hughes, Purchasing Manager, APS Group. “Polymer Logistics has helped us ensure that the products are kept fresher for longer, and the journey from farm to store is quicker, enabling us to cut product waste and unlock new levels of productivity.”
“This was an inspiring project for us,” said Adrian Dale, Managing Director, Polymer Logistics. “Instead of simply providing one type of product, we had to resolve several challenges at every stage to create a seamless logistics chain. It has been great to see how the bespoke solution continues to deliver, giving APS Group the agility they need to adapt to peaks in demand and drive efficiency across all operations.”