Zentek
Innovative technical design and business model innovation

Pooling resources and pushing potential: Creating a smart and sustainable logistics solution.

Innovative technical design opens up new business opportunities by leveraging a lean product development process

THE TRADITIONAL WOODEN PALLET IS THE PRIMARY BUILDING BLOCK FOR HOW FMCG COMPANIES TRANSPORT THEIR STOCK. BUT IT HAS ITS DRAWBACKS. CHANGING THE WAY THE INDUSTRY OPERATES COULD LEAD TO FINANCIAL SAVINGS AND OPEN UP NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR FMCG BRANDS.

In the world of fast-moving consumer goods, reliability and efficiency are the markers of a successful business. But the waste generated by the conventional pallet-transportation model, and the general inefficiencies of the logistics process, can cost big industries big money. Zentek Pool System is a start-up aiming to revolutionise the logistics process for supermarkets and similar enterprises by shaking up the status quo: Reimagining the humble pallet.

A COLLABORATION WITH SHARED VISION

We partnered with Zentek, an offshoot of Zentek GmbH & Co, in developing and producing smart and sustainable load carriers. Zentek envisaged the best pallet on the market: robust, durable, easy to clean, cost-effective, lightweight and sustainable. We know that function isn’t the only important attribute of a product, so we put as much effort into the look and features of the pallets as we did into the technical design: They have ergonomic handles and innovative stacking aids that make them sympathetic to manual handling and stacking.

The pallets were made out of one material: Plastic, with no metal inserts. This meant they were incredibly lightweight. The temperature resistance of the material made size fluctuation due to moisture a thing of the past. This use of materials allowed for greater dimensional accuracy for automated material flow, so that unlike wooden pallets, the risk of machine failures and injuries from splinters or protruding nails is minimal. The partially opened, hygienic deck surface and close skids mean dirt cannot settle in corners, making the pallets easy to clean in accordance with required hygiene standards.

Innovative technical design opens up new business opportunities by leveraging a lean product development process

USING A LEAN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

We added value to the design process by introducing a Soft Kill Option, a lean product development process and technique that allowed us to minimise materials use and thereby reduce unit costs. A state-of-the-art software programme simulated different loads on the pallet to find the right balance between its weight and strength. The final design used only the materials that were needed, a measure that dramatically cut manufacturing costs

BUSINESS MODEL INNOVATION SHAPES AN INDUSTRY

Zentek also proposed an innovative business model where pallets were rented rather than purchased—resulting in large savings for FCMG companies, which typically spend a lot of money on disposable wooden pallets. A ‘smart production line’ placed an RFID chip into every pallet rented out, while Zentek’s closed-loop pool system involved a third party to clean and maintain the pallets, minimising an organisation’s costs and wastage.

When we assume the role of design partner with our clients, we take responsibility or the aesthetic of a product, but also act as a focal point for bringing together an original vision for innovative technology and a feasible product development process. Our work on these pallets demonstrated that a simple change can have a revolutionary impact. The Zentek Pool System pallet is a unique product that remains unrivalled in the market today.

The Zentek Pool System pallet was honoured with the Deutsche Verpackungs Preis.

Innovative technical design opens up new business opportunities by leveraging a lean product development process