Get a grip: racks and crates
OP Sarl and Lamaplast**** discuss the competitive racks market and how they are working to meet their customers’ toughest demands.
How would you describe the racks market at the moment?
Laurent Alozy**, *OP Sarl (*LA**): “2007 has been a yearof maturity. After a decade of efforts and investment, weíve convincedthe main players of the benefits of our product and theyíve invested ona large scale.”
Lamaplast Industial Sales Director Panagiotis Xourafas ****(*PX*): “The market is very promising, but at the same time very competitive.”
Briefly explain the background behind your company.
*LA*: “In 1995, the family owned SEMO****group, involved in both small pack mineral water and plastic film,created a home and office delivery (HOD) division. Aqua Pyrénées wasset up to bottle and distribute 5 gallon bottles in France andneighbouring countries from a network of eight springs. We were unableto find the proper solutions for our bottling needs, so we decided tomanufacture our own products. In 1997, OP Sarl created the OP cratewith the aim of delivering a product that would be efficient and easyto use. We also established Pole Services, an HOD distribution companybased in the south west of France in 2003.”
*PX*: “As the largest plastic manufacturing companyin the Balkans, we focus on new and innovative products such ascustomer racks and crates for the HOD market.”
Outline the range of racks that you offer for the cooler industry.
*LA*: “The OP crate4 and OP crate4+4.”
*PX*: “We offer two types of racks, one for storage and transportation, and one for storing bottles next to the cooler.”
Who is your ideal customer within the cooler industry?
*LA*: “The customer that definitely knows what theywant and has a set of objectives that they want to achieve from usingyour product. Itís great to interact with a talkative customer who isreally precise about the parameters in which they can work and knowsquality when they see it.”
*PX*: “The customer that provides us with feedback about how to improve our range and asks for new products.”
Which locations are the racks suitable for?
*LA*: “For bottling plants, storage in warehouses, transportation in trucks and end users’ homes and offices.”
*PX*: “Storage and transportation requirements.”
What features should the ideal rack for the cooler industry offer?
*LA*: “They should be solid, easy to handle andenvironmentally friendly – the OP crate is made with recycledmaterials, is recyclable and bottle friendly.”
*PX*: “To store and transport the bottles without damaging them.”
What is your latest product?
*LA*: “The OP crate4+4”. We are launching a new one in 2008.
*PX*: “The customer rack.”
Describe its main features.
*LA*: “Edged sides, more space for forklift andhandpallet trucks, track and trace capabilities and environmentallyfriendly construction from recycled materials.”
*PX*: “It is suitable for storing 19 litre (5 gallon) HODbottles at a maximum height of four and can be placed next to coolermachines or anywhere the customer wants.”
Describe its main benefits.
*LA*: “By evolving over the years, our crate hasbecame the industry standard. It offers better handling, 100%compatibility with all bottling, delivery, storage and transportrequirements, improved ergonomics, easier loading and unloading, andlow replacement costs.”
*PX*: “It saves on storage space, is hygienic to use and comes in a variety of colours with customer logos.”
What is your best selling rack and why?
*LA*: “The 4+4 is so popular because it offers easyhandling, reduces bottle damage by 50%, can be easily dismantled andindividual parts replaced, if necessary, and is ideal for companieslooking to invest in quality.”
*PX*: “The crateplus+ because it offers optimal value when you take into account its price and quality.”
How are you addressing environmental issues?
*LA*: “We are very conscious of environmental issuesand produce our racks using recycled materials from the automotiveindustry. The products themselves are very strong and long lasting, socustomers don’t have to dispose of broken crates very often. That said,the racks are easy to recycle and most of the big players haveeffective environmental policies in place.”
*PX*: “We offer our customers a crate recyclingservice because we can use the recycled crates in other products.Although, we advise our customers to only purchase crates that havebeen made using virgin materials. “
How do your products stand out in the marketplace?
*LA*: “We regularly improve our products – we offer aquality product and also work closely alongside our customers to dealwith any concerns that they might have directly and quickly. Wedefinitely go the extra mile to ensure that we understand where thecustomer is coming from. Our policy is to supply a high level ofservice – we offer a full service so can assist with additional issues,such as transportation and administration. The fact that OP is acompany specially dedicated to this product also helps because we canfoster closer relationships with our customers and answer all of theirquestions.”
*PX*: “We believe that we are one of the top three crate companies in the world.”
Do you get requests and feedback from customers about developing new racks?
LA*: “Yes and we encourage feedback as we appreciate having close contact with our customers.”
*PX*: “Sometimes, yes, but for us every crate is different because every customer has different needs.”
Do you invest heavily in the R&D of new products?
LA: “We invest a lot in upgrading and improving our rack. The price of a new mould isaround Ä200,000 and it is also costly to have a design team in thegroup. We brought out our first rack in 1997, then vastly improved itin 2003. Next year we are set to launch our latest newly improved rackwhich will bring together and implement all of the comments and requests we have received from customers over the years.”
*PX*: “Yes, we aim to develop a new product for the HOD market every year.”
What factors do you have to consider when developing new racks?
*LA*: “There are many different factors that have tobe taken into account, such as new and innovative shapes, additionaloptions for the customer and the efficacy of the raw materials used.”
*PX*: “You have to use materials that are robust and will give bottles a longer shelf life.”
What do you think the future holds for the racks industry?
*LA*: “We are receiving a good reaction from theindustry, so we are positive about the future. As our product hasbecome the industry standard, the major players are now seriouslyembracing it.
Moreover, despite the transport costs involved in exporting goodsover to the Middle East, we still have loyal customers there, whilemarkets, such as Russia, are opening up with new players coming intothe fold all of the time. And it is also clear that many geographicalzones have not entered the market yet. At the recent EBWA show inWarsaw, I felt that attendees were entering into proper discussions,something that has been lacking in recent years. There was definitelyan improved atmosphere and mood.”
*PX*: “It is very promising, as long as you constantly develop innovative products.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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