By Sofrigam S.A
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Insulated and Refrigerated Boxes
The objective of the following article is to show the advantages of utilising a well-defined set of specifications determined by the customer who is looking for an insulated or refrigerated box. Firstly, the article will explain the disadvantages of not having a complete set of specifications. The article will then set out the minimum information required in regards to developing a refrigerated box.
Advantages of Specifications
The lack of certain features can dissuade a customer from making the purchase of a new piece of equipment. When it comes to consumer goods, research is carried out in respect to what is expected of a target product, then a set of specifications are drawn up which set out the necessary features the new product must have. This will enable the product to reach the broadest possible public target.
When developing a insulated or refrigerated box specifically for a customer the situation alters. Before the initiation of design work on the actual product, the customer must first specify what is required. The two main advantages of using a defined set of specifications established by the customer are:
• It shows that the requirements have been described and eluciated internally prior to contacting the supplier. Incorporating different departments such as logistics, quality and purchasing is highly advocated. This will enable the requirements of each department to identified and discussed in the event of non-compatibility.
• It will provide direction to the supplier. Delays and questions will be avoided because the requirements will have been deliberated beforehand.
In the case of insulated and refrigerated boxes, these products are occasionally a new concept to customers. By drawing up a set of specifications the customer can be established a link with the supplier thus initiating a partnership. The supplier can draw on their experience to help set out the requirements of the customer and identify any specific features which are unachievable, since either they are not technically feasible or because certain criteria are not compatible i.e. cost and deadline, compliance with quality.
Subject to the reactivity of each party, the amount of time required could vary. However, it is necessary to agree on the definitive set of specifications and initiate the development of the final product.
A product will not satisfy expectations if the set of specifications is inadequate. Further to this, it could result in a failure to meet the initial deadline and provisional cost if the requirements are altered during the development phase of the product.
Inadequately Defined Specifications
The supplier is best placed in regards to whether the expected specific criteria are attainable. The most frequent causes of problems are:
• Technical incompatibility: the product did not meet expectations due to the desired technical specifications.
• Inconsistency between criteria: the desire to have a multi-functional product which is highly efficient even under tough conditions at the same time, or an innovative product made available in short period of time.
The above cases require an agreement between the supplier and the customer to identify which criteria are non-negotiable. This will put the supplier on the right track in terms of product development and will make sure that they fully comprehend the client’s requirements. Alternative solutions can be found in many cases in regards to cost, deadlines and quality.
In reality, these three concepts are closely related: altering the details for one of the criteria indicates altering direction on the other two as well. Many times when the customers requests for an increase in ‘quality’ they will also request for a reduction in the ‘deadline’ and ‘cost’.
Even though new designs originate from existing products, time for development will still be required so that they can be adapted. Tests are necessary in order to check that the solution is reliable. The tests have monetary costs and will add additional time.
Minimum Specification for Developing a Refrigerated Box
With the purpose of assisting both regular and occasional customers, the following list of minimum information to be supplied in order to produce the best solution from a performance perspective:
• The temperature range for products to be transported
• The number of products to be placed inside the box and the unit dimensions
• The temperature profile(s) to which the box will be exposed and the period of use
Examples for the latter criterion already exist in various guides (ISTA, C3, and so on) or standards (Afnor NF S 99-700). Although validation of the actual box in question is advocated because the examples do not mirror the logistical chain of the customers.
The minimum information is not sufficient to ensure that the optimum solution will be achieved for a given customer. Actually it is possible to develop various types of boxes that meet all three criteria. The most appropriate will be the one that achieves the requirements of the following departments:
• Quality – the requirement for a solution that is efficient under all conditions
• Order preparation – the requirement for a box that is ergonomic and simple for employees to prepare
• Logistics – the requirement for a box which is characterised by an optimum volume and weight
• Purchasing – the requirement for a cost-effective box in order to achieve a given budget
The above list is not exhaustive. When the specifications are not properly clarified, the supplier can often find themselves asking: which criteria have first priority? The decision of the supplier will no longer match the requirements of the customer. Therefore, the risk of presenting a noncompliant solution can result in a misunderstanding between the customer and supplier.
For instance it is a common request for a single set-up refrigerated box that is able to provide efficiency all year round. This provides a solution to the problem of changing box preparation inaccordance with the season. These types of criterion often come from the validation or quality department. This type of option however is more difficult to implement from the perspective of the order preparation or logistics departments. This option requires thorough organisation and involves approximating the set-up casts at an early stage: space required for storing packages, chilling and freezing equipment, forecasting peak times etc. Further to this, supplying larger packages involves additional costs that need to be considered at the beginning of the project.
A single set-up option is more costly from a purchasing perspective because it involves additional inner elements compared to a multi set-up option. The purchasing product is restricted to a budget. Consequently, to meet a given criterion it is possible that less priority is given to another one. Which criterion should be give less/more priority and why? The customer is accountable in regards to prioritising.
At this point the initial request formulated and authorized in the form of specification, can be utilised to re-instate a dialogue between the two parties and confirm that the original goal is being adhered to.
The specifications are particular to each individual customer. The specifications emerge from the preparations of a specific strategy individual to each customer. When a strategy is created in advance alongside the various departments involved (purchasing, logistics, quality etc.), the need of all parties can be prioritised. The specifications are vital and can be employed to aid the supplier in regards to developing the solution that is most appropriate. The supplier can draw from their experience in the field to provide support and assistance in drawing up the specifications if needed. Discussions from the start can be advantageous in terms of forging a partnership and determining the requirements of both sides so as to build up confidence between both sides. To form a suitable set of specifications, discussions both internally and with the supplier are required. Prioritising discussions before the commencement of the project will not only save time but also build a stronger relationship between the supplier and customer. To discuss our insulated and refrigerated boxes or any other refrigerated solution contact us directly.