time-is-money-1251246_1920Flexitanks are more cost-effective than traditional shipping methods. We have previously discussed in a recent article how flexitanks can increase profits for wine importers by shipping wine in bulk, instead of in pre-bottled, pre-boxed packages or steel tanks. The money that would have been spent on packaging, cushioning, and palletising are instead spent on shipping more product — as much as 31%.

But transporting a product is merely a link in a typical supply chain – the concept of manufacturer-to-end-user gets more complicated the bigger the geographical gap is between both ends. Traditional shipping methods would require several stops, transfers, and switching between different containers before the product reaches the end user – the longer the supply chain, the longer the latter has to wait, and the more shipping risks the product is exposed to.

Flexitanks can save time and money by skipping typical hurdles in the supply chain. Some of these are:

  1. Extra packaging. Let’s go back to the aforementioned wine importer blog. If our wine exporter relied on traditional shipping methods, they would still be paying for the cardboard, the styrofoam, and the extra manpower needed to stack crates. There’s also a limit to how many crates can be stacked in a container, so our exporter could also end up paying for shipping those extra cubic metres of air.
  2. Long upload and download times. Not the internet speed – rather, we’re talking about the time it takes to fill a single 20-foot ISO container: about 3 to 5 hours. Flexitanks, on the other hand, takes just about 90 minutes to two hours from setup to locking the container door.
  3. Extra staff (and heavy lifting). Flexitanks would only require two or three staff to prepare, secure and fill a container. No forklifts, handcarts or ramps required. Unloading the product at the destination is just as fast, and the cleanup even faster (see number 6 below).
  4. Intermediaries and long waiting times. Flexitanks can be filled up at the manufacturer’s premises and can be kept as it is until it reaches the end user. By moving the flexitank itself between carriers (instead of the product being transferred between tanks), this eliminates several transfer stages and maintains the integrity of the product end to end.
  5. Extra trucks and/or containers. Flexitanks are excellent for transporting smaller batches of different liquids. Take for example a petrol tank truck: it can only carry as much as two different kinds of petrol, and only in large quantities. A single ISO container, on the other hand, can be filled with several smaller flexitanks containing different kinds of petrol. Why hire several tank trucks when you only need one?
  6. Skip the return and cleaning costs. Return cost, also known as return freight, is like the deposit on soda pop bottles; it covers the cost to return of the empty tank used for shipping. The tanks would also have to be cleaned beforehand, especially if it contained chemicals – additional cost for hiring a cleaning staff and their implements. Flexitanks, on the other hand, are single-use and 100% recyclable, and can be disposed of in minutes.

There is no doubt that, as more suppliers adopt flexitanks for their shipping needs, more things get to be skipped, which can only mean more savings for suppliers.