I know, you’re asking “What the heck is a shipping reel?”. I was asking the same thing. Turns out that wooden reels have been used for decades as the preferred solution for wire shipping, but its inefficient design makes them very difficult and cost prohibitive to ship back because they take up so much space. KALAS Wire, a wire and cable assembly manufacturer was facing increased pressure to reduce some of their operating costs. They hired Bresslergroup to focus on one of their biggest operating costs –the cost of wooden shipping reels used to ship millions of tons of wire and cables across the continental US.
Our assumption that a single plastic reel would be better than a single wooden reel, was also challenged by the life span we planned for this product and the series of Sustainable Minds LCAs we conducted. Our final solution ended up being different than we had imagined, a system of multiple wooden flanges and a single plastic core, with a lifespan that exceeded original expectations.
Here’s what they ended up with:
Their engineering analysis led Bresslergroup to realize that the ultimate reel should not be made only from plastic, but a combination of wood and plastic. It was counter-intuitive, but made sense from a structural standpoint, and added up from an environmental impact stand point. Sustainable Minds has posted a webinar case study featuring Mathieu Terpault from Bresslergroup:
The benefits go beyond this reel in that the firm has awoken KALAS’ environmental conciseness and inspired the company to look at other ways to improve their “environmental performance.” Now there’s an example of a design firm completely changing they their client thinks and behaves.
So what do you think? Have you been considering a tool like Sustainable Minds to add to your tool belt? What’s been you experience? What were the deciding factors behind that decision?
Also see my article about SM’s other case study on fredsparks’ new eyeware line, info on IDSA’s OKALA Guide and a discount on an SM subscription for IDSA members.