A blue solution to pallet theft

In addition to over 5,000 proprietary products, Emmi offers its customers a trading range of a further 4,000 or so articles. These are transported by rail, lorry and ship to over 60 countries. Pallets are a tool that simplifies global transport of goods.

They are made of wood, measure 120 x 80 centimetres, weigh around 20 kilograms and are held together by exactly 78 special nails: Euro-pallets. This standard, which is recognised throughout Europe, simplifies logistics considerably.

Emmi also uses these pallets. Customers receive the goods on pallets, and then give us the same number of empty pallets back in return. The problem is that Emmi sends good quality pallets and gets back firewood. Depending on the country, selling suppliers’ pallets that are like new and keeping the proceeds is also a widespread problem. As a result, Emmi has to check, replace or repair all returned pallets. The costs of these repairs amount to over CHF 1 million per year. This was a good enough reason to look for an alternative.

Ensuring everyone bears responsibility

We found the solution in CHEP (Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool), an international logistics company, specialising in pooling pallets. In specific terms, this means that the pallets remain the property of CHEP. The solution is leasing instead of buying - also for Emmi. The lease term ends for the Swiss Emmi companies on delivery to the foreign subsidiary, and for this company, on delivery to the customer. This means that every link in the supply chain is responsible for the correct handling of the pallets.

Reducing costs substantially

The distinctive blue CHEP pallets were used by Emmi for the first time in 2011 for exports to the UK. This pilot project found that Emmi could make considerable savings: CHEP pallets are less time consuming in terms of administration, and less expensive; there is no need to check, repair or replace pallets. Volker Bay, responsible for the CHEP project at Emmi Logistik, estimates the saving at over CHF 1 per pallet. This seems like a modest sum at first glance, but then Emmi does send around 60,000 pallets per year to Germany alone. The CHEP pallets have also been in use in Spain, Germany and Austria since this autumn.

CHEP also benefits the environment

Economics and the environment are in balance at CHEP. Unlike with standard reusable pallets, CHEP recycles all materials. CHEP is the first pallet company in the world to advocate sustainable timber management which is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified.