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Automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler and drive manufacturer Flender have joined forces to create a new, innovative and eco-friendly reusable packaging system. 

The so-called ‘SMART Box’ (Schaeffler Modular Adaptable Returnable Transport Box) replaces previous disposable transport boxes and is currently already used at several locations of the Industrial division for bearings with an outer diameter of 350 to 750 mm. Together, the two companies are making a significant contribution towards conserving resources and avoiding waste. 

“The subject of sustainability has been firmly rooted in Schaeffler’s DNA for many years and represents one of our four corporate values. Thanks to the new packaging system, not only the handling of the boxes is improved, but storage space and costs are also significantly reduced,” said Dr. Stefan Spindler, CEO Industrial at Schaeffler. “The replacement of up to 25,000 disposable transport boxes each year could be achieved for deliveries to Flender alone.”

“For Flender, the close cooperation with customers and suppliers is a key part of achieving complete climate neutrality. For this reason, it is also important for us to focus our attention on potential savings within the supply chain. We are delighted to have a partner in Schaeffler who also thinks along these lines. With the introduction of SMART boxes for one gearbox platform, we are already reducing the amount of wood used as disposable packaging material by more than 100 tonnes per year,” said  Andreas Evertz, Group CEO, Flender.

Innovative design

During the development of the new packaging system, considerable importance was placed on ensuring its usability for different bearing designs. Schaeffler is currently working on a design of the box for bearings with an outer diameter of up to 2400 mm. A GPS tracking system, which facilitates tracking of the boxes in transit, is also currently being tested. The size of the boxes is uniform and adapted to the footprint of a euro pallet with a total of up to five frames stacked per pallet. Thus, one complete unit of the new packaging system replaces a multitude of individual boxes across several pallets.

Sustainable solutions

In contrast to the materials used in the previous disposable boxes, the new SMART box results in a CO2 reduction of more than 50 percent. This calculation already includes the return transportation of empty packaging. This reduction in CO2 is particularly stemming from the avoidance of wood waste resulting from the increased number of transport cycles of the new SMART box. Thanks to the abrasion-resistant melamine resin coating on both sides, the SMART boxes are much more robust than uncoated wooden transport boxes and can be used for up to 20 transport runs.

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