There are several choices when it comes to transportation packaging/dunnage for automotive components. In the case of fragile products, like front grilles, component manufacturers have sometimes used bag racks for transport dunnage packaging. The problem with bag racks is that when removing the injection molded plastic grille from the bag rack, “burning” can be caused by the friction between the grille and the rack. The result can be surface damage on a part where aesthetics is very important.
One solution is to tape the edges of the units, but this is costly and time consuming. To help solve this problem, one major automotive manufacturer started working with Sonoco Protective Solutions, who specializes in custom molded foam solutions for the auto industry and beyond. Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) is very popular in the automotive industry because of its strength, resiliency, and protective properties; all of which are great properties to have in both dunnage and components. Sonoco has done many automotive components (i.e parts that go inside cars and trucks) for this and many other automotive manufacturers, but also has a line of custom designed returnable dunnage called TransGuard® to help protect automotive components in transit.
Once major automotive manufacturers see the benefit of Sonoco’s TransGuard Custom Dunnage, they often switch away from bag racks and other packaging and go with molded EPP. Accordingly, Sonoco has done the custom dunnage on past truck models for this automotive manufacturer and so were approached to do another custom design on the latest model.
The reason customers have continued to use Sonoco’s TransGuard line is that it is a custom molded foam solution that protects the parts, allows for maximum yield on the pallet and truck, is lightweight, and is several hundred dollars less expensive than alternative options. The custom dunnage used by this major automotive manufacturer is also unique in that the return ratio is 2:1 when shipping back from the assembly location in Mexico to where the grilles are manufactured in the US. This saves customers on truck space, shipping costs, and most importantly, helps with a reduction in CO2 emissions because they can ship half as many trucks back as they’d need to if they’d chosen the bag rack.
Also noteworthy, TransGuard is 100% recyclable at the end of product life. With the bag rack, Sonoco stresses that recycling can be difficult because each of the different materials must be separated for recycling, which requires extra labor and material handling time/costs. TransGuard products are 100% EPP, so there is no separating required. Additionally, Sonoco takes back the used products at several of their facilities to be ground down and reused in future applications.