Returnable Totes Offer Sustainable Solution for Auto Parts Transport


Automotive packaging: reusability, durability, lightweight and ergonomic properties make reusable plastics totes the chosen alternative for closed-loop supply chains.

A leading tier-one supplier in the automotive industry was in search of a returnable packaging solution to transport steering wheels for an exclusive German automotive manufacturer. They contacted DS Smith Plastics, Injection Moulded Products to assist them with the project and create a sustainable solution.

The automotive packaging challenge

The solution was required to have high stress tolerances to keep the product in the right position during transport and prevent damage from friction. The previous mode of packaging did not meet customer’s requirements. At the same time the packaging needed to be stackable when full, nestable when empty and fit perfectly on the existing pallets to maximise loads and attain space savings.

Our approach

DS Smith Plastics in Bilzen, Belgium, designed a reusable polypropylene tote with two nests for two piles of eight steering wheels each. One tote could now contain a total of sixteen steering wheels. Integrated support surfaces for stacking guarantee the robustness to sustain the weight of another full pallet during transport. A circumferential rim and a spear that can be screwed in the internal socket, guarantee the perfect positioning of the steering wheels.

The result

An optimal truck loading was achieved as a pile of three totes is strong enough to sustain the weight of another full pallet, doubling the number of products per trip. One full truck load can contain 9,216 steering wheels, reducing CO2 emissions per product by 50%. The product stays perfectly safe during long distance transport. The perfect ergonomic designed totes, allow easy handling at the assembly lines, eliminating any packaging waste. The totes last for decades and are 100% recyclable after their useful long lives–an excellent example of how returnable totes can provide a superior automotive packaging solution.

Source: DS Smith

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