5 reasons for the use of automotive parts molding pulp trays by multiple manufacturers

Table of Contents

Molded pulp trays are favored for their sustainability, cost-effectiveness, customizability, lightweight design, and superior protection, reducing costs and environmental impact while enhancing packaging efficiency and product safety.

Sustainability

Automotive manufacturers opt for molded pulp trays mainly because of their sustainability. The trays are made from recycled paper and cardboard, which also eliminates the use of virgin materials. Annually, thanks to the introduction of molded pulp in the industry, the automotive sector is able to recycle thousands of tons of paper waste, transforming them into trays used to protect such auto parts as bumpers, lights, and various electronics. The process of production requires approximately 70% less energy and water than that staged for plastic materials. The method of energy and resource consumption is critical for the latter as it helps to directly address the manufacturing process’s overall carbon footprint.

In the case of molded pulp, approximately 1,200 kWh of electricity is spent on 1,000 kilograms of trays. When compared to the many thousands of kWh required preserving the same amount of polystyrene, the improvement cannot be denied. One of the more significant benefits of pulp trays is that they are fully biodegradable and compostable. Whereas plastic parts could occupy landfills for hundreds of years, pulp decomposes naturally within a few months, retaining its biodegradable properties in the case of proper composting. This process results in a decrease in landfill waste and waste toxins. Transporting the trays is also less expensive since they are light and stackable. A truck hauling trays may have a capacity of around 20% more products than an equivalent vehicle loaded with heavier containers or boxes for the parts. A larger amount of products means fewer truck rentals, less fuel used, and lower emissions.

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Protection and Cushioning

Molded pulp trays are used to protect automotive parts from damage, such as dents, scratches, and so on, and also serve as cushioning. The material from which molded pulp is made is naturally resilient and absorbent, so it is strong and cushioning which is beneficial during transportation. Automotive parts that need to be delivered also differ, so the packaging solution also has to fit accordingly. An essential characteristic of the packaging of such details is related to the fact that such parts differ in the weight, size, and fragility of different parts, so packaging has to be adjusted to different parts. Molded pulp can be easily resized to shape the part and also has convenient options for the shape, for example, specific details of an engine part.

The molded pulp can also be tailored to serve as a custom size for the part, so it has less space to move within the packaging, which is another essential factor. For example, a custom tray used to pack a headlight section can include specific sizes and may even have raised edges, so the headlight never contacts the outer walls of the packaging. This, for example, discussed by DSC, helps to streamline the packing of the parts. Molded pulp trays alleviate the need to design custom orders for smaller parts, such as screws.

This helps lower the cost of labor since assembly line workers now only need to quickly and easily install parts with molded pulp. Molded pulp is around 30% more efficient in this respect, according to a packing time study on automotive parts. The latter test also shows that molded pulp is considerably more efficient than other materials with which the parts are packed, the parts packed in molded pulp are only lightly scratched and can survive multiple drops of 1 meter. Other types of packing suffer damage and wear after the first drop.

Cost-Effectiveness

The cost-effectiveness of molded pulp trays for automotive manufacturers is dictated by their low material and production costs. These trays consist of recycled paper fibers which are much more affordable even than prevalent synthetic packaging material, plastics. For example, it costs around 20% less to produce a molded pulp tray when compared to a tray of similar size made of plastic. As a result, companies should strive to cut their packaging expenses and molded pulp offers such a possibility.

Another characteristic reducing the costs of molded pulp trays is their design flexibility which allows companies to avoid overlapping between parts. In other words, since the tray is molded to perfectly fit the automotive part, it does not require any bubble wrap, air pillows, and other types of filler. This reduces not only the material costs but the weight and volume of the package, speeding up shipping and lowering the costs of freight.

Transport costs can be significantly reduced because molded pulp trays are lighter and smaller, allowing more parts to be transported at once. Consequently, fewer truck trips are needed for the delivery of the same number of parts, which also greatly minimizes transportation costs. Additionally, the production materials are neatly shipped in a flat stack and do not take much space in a trailer. Therefore, extra trips for the delivery of packaging materials are also not necessary, which would increase transportation costs as well. The final reason is that handling costs are much lower due to the decreased weight and volume of the flat stack of trays.

Molded pulp trays have a lower production cost than plastics primarily because the latter requires much higher temperatures and more complex machinery. As a result, the energy consumption of the molded pulp production is around 50% smaller. It follows that molded pulp consoles have more affordable production costs and support the environmental performance of companies, which is also important regarding green incentives being offered in many areas.

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Customization

Molded pulp trays are particularly popular among manufacturers within the automotive industry. One of the most significant reasons for this is that they can be easily customized to create packaging that perfectly fits the needs of a given product. This is of a particular advantage when it comes to designing trays for specific automotive parts. For example, while some of these may be small electronic sensors, others are large mechanical parts, like, say engine covers. For the former, the appeal of a perfectly fitting container that also serves as a display stand is clear. However, the automotive producers can also benefit from perfectly fitted trays for larger products. This is because the trays are simultaneously more effective at protecting the packed products from damage and pose as a visually appealing package.

The ease with which such products can be aligned to fit the specific part is achieved with the help of CAD software, which allows to take measurements of the parts and design the container to exactly their dimensions. Moreover, with the same technology, a prototype of such a tray, in case of a new product, can be created in less than half a day, instead of having to spend days or even weeks on creating an initial sample. This further shortens the product development cycle and makes the process cheaper. Additionally, such an approach allows to create functional slots and clasps that hold the screws, bolts, and other parts that may be necessary for the installation of the part. This ensures that all necessary components are delivered to the end user and cannot be mixed, for example, with a wrong kind of screws.

Lightweight

Molded pulp trays have become highly popular in the automotive parts industry due to their lightweight nature. Shipping is the most significant reason for the popularity of the company as these trays weigh notably less than all of their alternatives, ranging from plastic to metal. One standard molded pulp tray that was used for automotive components, such as headlights, weighed around 150 grams. By comparison, in a similarly sized plastic tray, this weight would reach the vicinity of 500 grams. A molded pulp try’s light weight means significant savings when shipping thousands of parts alongside a heavyweight part, all of which will contribute to important savings.

Fewer trucks will be used to provide a smaller weight while using the same number of trucks for a higher volume of parts. This is a simple logistical advantage that provides a cheaper shipping route and a significantly less costly transportation option that will show on the products’ final price. Additionally, less weight mean less fuel consumption. Trucks, planes, or boats all burn less fuel while carrying a lesser weight of cargo. A major automotive producer might cut its related carbon dioxide emissions from shipping by nearly 20% by changing its trays. Finally, less weight positively affects the process of unloading as workers will have fewer issues with safety and stability.

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