June 26, 2018, Nairobi. The future of flower packing is set to change for the better with the introduction of a new innovative packaging system that delivers significant savings in air freight, by packing more flowers per air pallet and improving in general the quality of the product before it arrives at destination.
Developed by Nairobi-based Cargolite, the developers of this innovative technology wanted to meet four principles that would go a long way in improving the transportation of flowers; removing the load from the carton walls, reducing the carton weight, increasing the pack rate and improving the stackability.
“In order to remove the load from the carton wall, each Cargolite carton is equipped with two polypropylene frames and each frame consistsof two vertical columns that are connected to each other with upper and lower laterals. These frames, which are also used to hold thecartons in a horizontal position, divert the weight of the flowers away from the carton’s walls and support each carton separately”, explains Guy Symondson, Cargolite’s East Africa representative.
“And with the weight diverted away from the carton’s walls, it is not necessary to use heavy five ply boards. In addition, with the frames holding the cartons from collapsing, less packaging materials are required to protect the flowers,” he adds.
As a result, more stems can be packed and the weight of the carton is considerably reduced, which meets the second and third principle. The developer was also able to meet his fourth principle, stack-ability, as the projections of one frame fit into the cavities of the frame above it.
“This makes the boxes on the air pallet very stable and enables the flowers to arrive at their destination without any damage”, he says.
After many years of trading in cut flowers from many different countries, it was clear to the
developer, John Kowarsky, the CEO of Cargolite, that there was an urgent need to improve the packing materials used in transporting cut flowers from one country to another.
Consequently, in 2013, he began to develop the idea of a new packaging concept that would solve the problems of standardization, and the damage to flowers from crushing
“The solution at the time would always be to increase the strength of the carton, thus increasing the weight of the packing material. This solution incurred extra expense for packing materials and air freight,” explains Guy.
The vision was to create a standardized carton that would avoid the crushing of the cartons at the bottom of the pallet and produce a carton that would weigh less than the regular carton in order to minimize the cost of air freight.
“In 2016, we began supplying the Cargolite carton to IPL and Oserian and the concept has been very successful as all flowers that are sent by Oserian to the auction are now being transported in Cargolite cartons,” he says, adding that aside from Oserian and IPL, Xpol,
Agrotropic and DFG are starting to work with Cargo Lite Kenyan flower farm Oserian recently started to ship their flowers through this concept, saving the company up to 8000 USD for every 1 million stems transported to Europe.
After conducting several trials, Oserian is the first farm that started to use the Cargolite concept for their flower shipments.
According to Guy, as the farms and logistic players get more experience in working with the Cargolite packaging concept, they expect more farms to join in and begin to use this new and innovative packaging concept.
And unlike regular boxes, which are often stacked densely, the Cargolite frames create a space between the cartons which makes it ideal for the cold air to flow between the boxes.
Moreover, Cargolite also has a lower carbon footprint than regular boxes as the cartons require much less paper and the cartons contain more flowers.
This according to the developers will enhance the sustainability practice in the flower industry. Panalpina Airflo is one of the logistics companies based in Nairobi that is handling Cargolite boxes used by growers in transporting their products to their diverse clientele in Europe.
The company started the trials for the use of the technology in 2015 to improve the various aspects of flower logistics and transport. Besides investing in bigger scanners that would fit the vertical frames of Cargolite boxes, the company is now expanding their facilities at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to accommodate the new technology.
According to Charles Njonjo, the operations manager at Panalpina Airflo, this new packing system has improved their efficiency in handling the flowers.
“We are excited to be among the pioneers to use this technology in our freight services”, says Charles Njonjo.
As one of the freight forwarders currently handling Cargolite, Charles notes that the main advantage of using this new technology is that the cartons are handled much less, only on one touch point when the flowers arrive at the cargo site at JKIA, as compared to three touch points when they used other boxes.