The demand for higher quality storage bins for foodgrade environments led to the development of the Foldable Bin (FB2) from CHEP Asia Pacific.

National sales manager, for reusable plastic containers with CHEP Asia Pacific, Dan Reeves, said requests from its customer base in the horticulture industry for a ‘fixed wall’ range of bins to transport bulk produce resulted in research into a plastic foldable bin.

“The desire to move to plastic was largely driven by manufacturers, processors and repackers who were no longer willing to accept either wooden or cardboard material into their foodgrade environments,” Reeves said.

The FB2 has been designed and targeted at the bulk produce distribution market, however it also has further applications in the distribution of a number of other light weight (less than 500kg) products. The cost savings include the positive environmental impact as the bin can be reused and recycled.

According to Reeves, the foldable bin will replace both timber and cardboard bins in the supply chain, along with ‘bulk a bags’ which are used extensively in the distribution of potatoes and onions. The FB2 will also reduce the number of cartons and bags used as a packaging medium.

The development of the storage bin concept started approximately four years ago with research in the Australian market using a number of American bins, which are the 1200 x 1000 (non Australian standard size) footprint.

“The bins were successful but only in limited applications as the footprint reduced freight efficiency and created problems with handling the bins in standard racking and bin tipping equipment,” Reeves explained.

“CHEP decided to pursue the development of an Australian standard size bin about two years ago. The initial design was developed by a Canadian company and refined by CHEP to suit Australian requirements and implement improvements identified through trials.

“The refinement of the design and agreement on the product specifications took twelve months with the tool build and production start-up taking a further twelve months. The moulds were manufactured and trialed in Italy prior to being shipped to Australia for production.

“Three months of intensive product testing was carried out on the first samples manufactured in Italy. This testing was undertaken at CHEP’s product innovation and testing facility in Davenport, Florida. Following this testing some minor modifications to the tooling were required prior to the product being signed off for production.”

The Fb2, moulded from polypropylene with acetal springs, has been developed specifically to suit the Australian pallet size, and has the added advantage of being able to max out the internal capacity of a high cube sea container, minimising the airspace.

According to CHEP, the bin is ideal for use in the export of light-weight dry goods in small batch loads (780 litre capacity) for either reprocessing overseas or for final sale. The bins can be folded down to a third of their size for return to Australia, or alternatively refilled with finished product and shipped back to Australia.

While similar products have been developed in the US and Europe, this is the first unit of its type to be designed and manufactured specifically for the Australian market.  The major environmental benefit of the FB2 is its re-useability.

It will significantly reduce the amount of one trip cardboard being used through the supply chain. The FB2 is also fully recyclable with all damaged bins and components being used in alternative plastic products. The FB2 is exclusively available through CHEP Australia. 

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