The metal pallets that travel between Toyota Motor Europe’s distribution centers all look neat and tidy today. No torn labels and dirty adhesive residue here! That’s because each label gets its place on the Dukale Placard label holders. This not only looks better but also saves time and is more efficient throughout the logistics process. Discover why Toyota Motor Europe chooses Dukale Placard label holders!
Toyota first began selling cars in Europe in 1963. Since then, the company has grown into the leading Japanese car manufacturer in the market. Toyota employs around 20,000 people in Europe. Their operations are supported by a network of 30 marketing and sales companies across 53 countries. On top of that, they work with a total of around 3,000 retailers and 9 manufacturing plants. Toyota also has 14 parts logistic centers, 7 vehicle logistic centers, a design center, and a motorsport center.
As part of its European operations, Toyota Motor Europe runs the Parts Center Europe in Diest. The center covers 100,000 square meters of warehouse space and 900 employees. It holds a stock of 265,000 parts, representing a total value of €100 million. They keep after-sales parts in stock and distribute them within the Toyota ecosystem. Half of its shipments remain within Europe. The other half finds its way to places all over the world.
“We are responsible for the replenishment of parts at the European distribution centers,” says Stefan Ramaekers. “But we also take care of direct deliveries — mostly overnight — to retailers in the Benelux.” As Logistics Packaging Specialist for Toyota Motor Europe, Ramaekers is responsible for the management of logistics packaging across all 14 European logistic part centers. This packaging takes very different forms. They go from boxes and crates to reusable metal pallets with foldable sidewalls.
“These reusable metal pallets have a long lifespan,” says Ramaekers, “but after 20 years they needed to be replaced.” The pallets were worn out and some were broken. In time this would create a shortage and, even more important, risk safety issues. “We looked for the most suitable solution here. Switching to a disposable solution was too expensive and not sustainable though. That’s why we decided to invest in new reusable, foldable metal pallets. The entire operation required a budget of €13 million.”
Danger of errors
A central element of the project was the identification labels for the pallets, which Ramaekers paid special attention to. “Traditionally, labels are placed directly on the pallet,” he says. “And often there is more than one item, as a pallet doesn’t only need a case label but also a heavyweight label or an order group label.” Inevitably, a practical problem arises with reusable pallets. Before the pallet can start a new route, all labels must be removed. “But that’s not always easy. Some glue is very stubborn.”
The result is easy to predict, especially with pallets that have been in circulation for 20 years. They are covered in glue and label residue. This looks messy and gives a negative impression. But worst of all, remnants of old labels lead to errors and therefore costs. “When a piece of an old label gets stuck on a pallet, it can confuse the identification of the goods. Sticking a new label over the previous one is not a solution either, because you never know whether the visible label is actually the right one. So, it’s not only the cleaning of the pallets that causes extra handling and costs. There’s also the high risk of errors.”