For the past five years or so, our society and economy have been undergoing a massive transformation in terms of sustainability. The chemical industry is right in the middle of this, with the manufacturing sector being strongly associated with the topic of resource utilization and a high consumption of resources.
The challenges for chemical companies are numerous: how can sustainable processes be integrated into existing business models? Which investments make sense and are worthwhile? Is a sustainable business even profitable? The circular economy has emerged as the most promising approach to answering such questions.As the name suggests, the circular economy is about finding a new, circular way of dealing with energy and resources. Linear material flows are replaced by cycles that return products and raw materials to the value chain again and again. On the one hand, this has a positive impact on the raw material and energy balance, while on the other it opens up opportunities to boost sales through more efficient management.As a key resource in the chemical industry, IBC containers play a major role in this. What you’ll discover in this blog post:
- How modern tracking technologies are transforming IBC containers into circular products.
- How smart IBC containers are becoming a tool for a sustainable circular economy for chemical companies.
- How container tracking can help you operate both sustainably and profitably.
New Digital Technologies Pave the Way for a Resource-Friendly Circular Economy
There’s hardly a chemical company that doesn’t have anything to do with intermediate bulk containers, or IBCs for short. Until now, these containers have been regarded throughout the industry as indispensable tools, yet they’ve only been used efficiently in cycles to a limited extent.
That’s because until now, IBCs couldn’t be digitally recorded and tracked. Innovative, data-driven technologies of the Industrial Internet of Things now make this possible. The Packwise Smart Cap sensor package gives chemical companies the opportunity to digitalize their analog IBC containers for the first time. How so?
The Packwise Smart Cap provides data which can be used to build a digital twin of the IBC. As a digital representative of the real container, the twin makes important parameters such as fill level, location, ambient temperature and condition of the container accessible online/digitally.
If each container is fitted with a Smart Cap, the entire IBC fleet will provide mass data on its current location and condition. This data enables chemical companies to monitor, control and plan their IBC processes and coordinate them with cooperation partners along the value chain.
Read more about how Packwise Smart Cap works in our free white paper “Smart IBC Containers and Industrial IoT in the Process Industry”.
The Packwise Smart Cap Empowers the Circular Economy
With the smart Packwise sensor, the chemical industry finally has a viable approach to the circular economy. Let’s take a detailed look at how IBC container tracking creates the conditions for circular packaging cycles:
1.IBC container tracking enables transparent processes
The transporting company gains full control over its IBC management thanks to the Packwise Smart Cap data. Questions such as “How many containers are currently at which location?” can be answered with just a few clicks. This transparency improves processes throughout the entire supply chain:
- The manual management effort in your company decreases.
- You can better plan ahead for future business ventures.
- You’re able to closely monitor the quality of the packaging and product and intervene before any harmful influence from the outside has an effect.
You can provide outstanding, proactive service to your customers and partners by always providing them with real-time data.
2.IBC container tracking enables connectivity
Reusing and recycling goods is a crucial element of the circular economy. This is a task that no industry can tackle alone, as it would simply be too inefficient. Instead, raw materials and products such as IBC containers must be considered and managed in a comprehensive manner.
A circular economy is created when companies work closely together at the segments of the value chain across product life cycles. Today, this collaboration largely takes place digitally, e.g. on logistics platforms.
By managing your IBC containers digitally, you pave the way for profitable connectivity with customers, suppliers and service providers. You can share important KPIs with your business partners, ensuring that the resource IBC and the goods transported in it are used in an optimal way.
3.IBC container tracking enables automation
Connectivity per se opens up a lot of potential, but the possibilities don’t stop there: digital twins also form the basis for time-saving automation of your processes.
For example, a low fill level can trigger an automated reorder. Entries for incoming and outgoing goods can be created automatically, as can the collection of empty containers once a certain number has been reached. You can finally bid farewell to cumbersome manual reconciliations.
Even though we’re only at the beginning of this development, companies should always keep the ultimate goal in mind: a completely automated supply chain that only requires intervention when something special happens. The future belongs to automated and self-learning logistics systems, and container tracking is the first step in the right direction.
4.IBC container tracking enables resource efficiency
Coordinated container handling and greater transparency inevitably lead to better resource efficiency, which means that fewer resources are consumed and the existing ones are better used.
For IBC containers, this means:
- Existing containers are less likely to be left unused.
- Since you know a container’s usage history, you can directly refill it with certain products.
- Damage to the IBC is registered immediately and repaired if necessary.
- As a result, fewer containers break.
- Fewer containers need to be repurchased.
- Fewer containers need to be manufactured.
This way, the Packwise Smart Cap makes a decisive contribution to the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources, which also has a positive impact on the carbon footprint of the chemical industry.
Circular Economy Benefits the Environment AND Companies
A sustainable, connected company is an important matter for the environment. But is the step towards the circular economy also worthwhile from a financial perspective? Companies that invest in the circular economy with innovative technology benefit in very tangible ways.
- Operating costs and investment costs are reduced by 15-20%. This is mainly thanks to the data from the digital twins, which enables you to use your existing IBC containers more wisely and keep them operational for longer. Overall, you need fewer IBCs to transport the same amount of goods.
- 10-20% fewer customers migrate to your competitors. The reason for this is not just that you impress your customers with sustainability, but mainly because of the massively improved customer service. With the new technology, you can provide your customers with precise information on the location of the containers and the condition of the goods. Automated processes in warehouse logistics (see the next point) are also convincing selling points for customers.
- Sales can increase by 5-20%. Circular economy innovations are fueling new lucrative business models such as vendor managed inventory (VMI) and pay-per-use. You as a supplier have access to your customer’s stock and order management system. Goods can be replenished automatically thanks to automated processes – meaning you or your customers don’t have to do anything.
With the Packwise solution, consisting of Packwise Smart Cap and the Packwise Flow platform, chemical companies lay the foundation for circular value creation, a more efficient and robust supply chain, and forward-looking business models.
Find out more by requesting a free demo now!