Big C logistics go greener with thermal pallet covers

Bangkok, Thailand: Big C Supercenter Plc hass introduced thermal pallet covers to protect temperature-sensitive goods during transport.

The company has spent 50m baht (US$1.65m) developing the fresh-food transport method that will reduce logistics costs as well as carbon dioxide emissions, says Greg O’Shea, vice-president for supply chain management at Big C.

The system is adopted from the United Kingdom where the covers are widely used in the airfreight industry for transporting temperature-controlled goods such as pharmaceutical or medical products,

The thermal pallet covers use frozen gel packs and a temperature-measuring device to maintain temperature in frozen and chilled fresh-food containers for up to eight hours during transport without the need for refrigerated trucks.

The company has spent 18 months developing the covers. It expects an immediate reduction in fuel costs as it will need fewer refrigerated trucks. The pallet covers and gel packs can be reused for up five years.

O’Shea said the company could be able to reduce logistics costs by up to 20% once the thermal pallet covers are applied at every outlet nationwide within the next 12 months.

The innovation will help it manage the supply chain more efficiently by reducing the number of refrigerated trucks. It also allows the company to transport non-frozen or general goods with frozen or chilled fresh food which will help reduce the number of trips from warehouses to stores.

“Fewer trucks on the roads means that we can save fuel consumption, which will eventually lead to fewer CO2 emissions,” said  O’Shea.

Big C has already introduced thermal pallet covers at 15 outlets in Greater Bangkok. It has set a target to reduce CO2 emissions this year by 28%, when compared to the levels produced by traditional refrigerated trucks.

The company is now working with a manufacturer in Sri Lanka to extend the capacity of the pallet covers by up to 50 hours. It also plans to apply the method to the Carrefour logistics system in the near future.

“We are also looking forward to applying the innovation from the upstream supply chain to end-consumers,” he said.

Big C will continue to encourage local farmers to use the pallet covers to transport their products right from the farms, instead of using refrigerated trucks. The company said the method would effectively help farmers who have limited budgets to cut their logistics costs.

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