Editor’s Note: Before joining Remcon Plastics, Brian Martin worked 14 years in the steel industry with Nucor Steel and Handy & Harman in a variety of positions. Prior to that, he worked for three years with CertainTeed Corporation. You can reach him at BrianM@remcon.com
RPA Editor: Describe the products that your company offers.
Martin: For over 30 years, Remcon Plastics of Reading, PA has been a leading rotational molder specializing in standard and custom molded material handling products and containers. We develop sustainable products made entirely from 100% recyclable polyethylene that deliver cost-saving material handling solutions. Our additional strength as a custom rotomolder comes from our ability to quickly and efficiently transform a customer concept into either a smartly engineered in-process component ready for further assembly or an end-use item ready for resale. Remcon products serve a variety of industries, which includes but is not limited to:
- Meat and poultry production
- Pulp and paper
- Consumer product manufacturing
RPA Editor: Describe the area of the supply chain where your products play a role.
Martin: Remcon products can be found anywhere customers need to store and move their ingredients, components, or end products. Their rugged and long lifecycle designs make them ideal for in-plant use and abuse as well as over-the-road transport.
In the food and confectionery sectors, Remcon rotomolded containers transport work in process (WIP) from stage to stage of a processing line within a plant, but are often seen being used to move product interplant as well, saving on the cost of expensive and one-time use transport packaging. In the pharmaceutical industry, Remcon products are seen as receptacles for solid-dosage tablet manufacturing, dry granulation, tablet coating, and other WIP related events.
RPA Editor: Describe some of the challenges you see that impede companies from implementing reusable packaging.
Martin: It is easier to justify reusable packaging in closed-loop systems in which control for the reusable asset is maintained by its owner. Intra-plant operations and steps that move WIP from step to step in a process is a good example of a closed-loop scenario.
Open loop systems where control of the asset is lost by the owner present more obstacles to the adoption of reusable packaging. One-way transport to distribution centers, deliveries to customers, even interplant transfers can create loss of control, which defeats the purpose of the investment. While RFID tagging or bar-coding systems can greatly enhance the tracking of reusables in open systems, the system change required and the extra level of control needed raise the commitment required to successfully implement them.
Also, although the lifecycle savings can be huge, the initial launch of a reusable packaging initiative usually requires some level of capital investment. Department managers can usually support and defend small spends against their P&L on a monthly basis, whereas the justification of a much larger spend that likely requires oversight or capitalization creates a much more difficult sell.
RPA Editor: Describe some of the successes you’ve had with implementing reusable packaging.
Martin: We continuously develop proprietary and unique/custom solutions for our customers in a variety of forms and for a variety of industries. The need for custom-sized containers for material handling in the pharmaceutical industry is a request we see quite regularly. The confectionery industry is similar in that it has very unique requirements that are in many instances more similar to pharmaceutical manufacturing than that of food. Food processing is normally the focus of our proprietary-designed and reusable/FDA-approved material handling containers. All of these products and others are designs driven by our customers – it’s really a concept reflected in our tagline: “we listen, develop, and deliver”.
RPA Editor: What are the key changes you see happening in the reusable marketplace in the near future?
Martin: The shrinkage of landfill space and the real cost to use disposable packaging will expand the demand for reusable packaging. As new and more innovative materials are developed and the drive to squeeze waste of all kinds out of all manufacturing processes further intensifies, the trickledown effect will be more sustainable solutions that are affordable and accessible to those businesses with a limited budget.
RPA Editor: You exhibited in the RPA Pavilion at PACK EXPO for the first time this year. Describe the benefit of the Pavilion to your company.
Martin: Sustainability is the key message that Remcon is focusing on for 2013. It’s a role we are well-suited to undertake as we have been sourcing reusable products into many industrial sectors for over 30 years. Exhibiting in the RPA Pavilion reinforced and enhanced this message by, I think, allowing Remcon to stand out among its peers and take a leadership role in communicating not only a sustainable and green message, but also following up that message with a family of products that supports our goals and our customers’ success.
RPA Editor: What opportunities would you like the RPA to pursue?
Martin: I think that going forward, education of both the supply base as well as the user base is key. The RPA needs to expand its presence and credibility as the key resource for sustainable solutions. To that end, I’d like to see RPA presence at more trade events (in its own pavilion if possible). What a tremendous opportunity to promote not only the RPA and its members, but also introduce to member clients the value of the RPA and the message it carries.
I am always willing and excited to work with others in the RPA and assist with my knowledge base and that of my business anywhere appropriate. At Remcon we believe in understanding the environment we work in and protecting the environment we all live in. The more we communicate and discuss relevant issues pertaining to the reusables arena, the more we all benefit.