ASTM's Packaging Committee Forms New Task Group
The group will assemble information on the various types of reusable/returnable containers and crates that are currently available for packaging medical devices and other products.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is a nonprofit organization that develops voluntary, full-consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services, and promotes related knowledge. Under Committee D-10 on Packaging, a new task group was formed to write a standard classification for reusable/returnable containers and crates. (By definition, a standard classification is a systematic arrangement or division of materials, products, systems, or services into groups based on similar characteristics such as origin, composition, properties, or use.)
The task group D.10.26.11 will provide information pertaining to reusable/returnable containers available in the United States, including wood/plywood, plastic, metal, and fiberboard in either knocked-down or assembled form for use in transport or storage. It is not the function of this classification to provide data for specific product design or process performance purposes, but merely to assemble information about what reusable containers are available.
This classification is intended for use by any party who would have the need for a reusable/returnable container for any application where there is a "closed loop" (i.e., a product is shipped and its container is then returned to the point of origin or sent on to another destination to be used as a container for a similar item or product).
Medical device companies have typically used reusable/returnable containers for packaging larger, heavier products that require extra protection during transport. A leading manufacturer of MRI equipment ships replacement coils to its customers using collapsible crates that are then sent back to the manufacturer with the old coils. The custom-designed crates protect the fragile coils from damage and make them easier for hospital personnel to use. Another device manufacturer uses reusable/returnable containers to ship containers for user-preference trials. The devices are then returned to the manufacturer in the same containers.
Because of obvious environmental considerations, reusable/returnable containers are, without a doubt, the trend of the future. They generally require an initial capital investment from which the payback comes over a period of time directly related to how many trips the containers can make without requiring repair or replacement. In years past, this initial investment has been a deterrent. However, there is now a wealth of information available that proves the economic advantages to reusable versus disposable containers.
For more information about the D.10.26.11 task group, contact Jenny Jones, Clip-Lok SimPak Inc., 1900 The Exchange, SE, Ste. 425, Atlanta, GA 30339, or call 770/541-9885. The group is seeking support and involvement from those who feel they can make a contribution.