Systems Offer Cradle to Grave Container Tracking
Although the system Halvorson uses does not allow for customer review of container history, it does provide a complete history of the container usage and servicing, including rinsing. “Customers have the comfort of knowing a Roundup container has only been used for Roundup,” said Halvorson.
With sealed units, the tracking system can also resolve return issues. Kahler noted that if, the retailer chooses to, unused product could be returned and accounted for automatically. Once the unit is placed on the scale and the barcode has been read, the software simply subtracts returning weight from filled weight.
Halvorson said ease of crediting customers for unused product is a big plus. He noted that bulk containers are seldom returned empty. “If 1/4 of a gallon is returned, the customer gets credit for it.”
Added Benefits to Container Tracking
Schoonover suggested that container tracking could have even greater benefits as application equipment moves to direct in-line injection systems and truly customized product delivery. He predicted refillable containers with accurate tracking could have as big an impact on agricultural chemical distribution as it has on the industrial market.
Two CPS distribution centers currently handle more than 600,000 gallons of straight or blended products for the non-crop markets, going mostly into utility right of way markets. In the case of some popular products, they are the sole packager, with product coming in bulk from the manufacturing plant to the Aqumix center. Distributors or their customers can order products custom blended as needed for a particular use in exact amounts for the area to be treated.
Aqumix currently offers 15-gallon, 30-gallon and larger, up to 270-gallon, poly containers in a cage and 330-gallon stainless steel containers. Over time, Schoonover has seen the industrial herbicide market shift to the smaller container. “The 15-gallon container is easy to handle,” he said. “Fifteen years ago, 70 percent of the containers we handled were 30-gallon units, but today 80 percent are 15-gallon units.”
Schoonover believes the container handling system developed for CPS, which recently opened in Oregon, will make the closed cycle container system even more attractive to agricultural retailers. “It is a completely different type of bulk facility without cement dikes and fixed pipes,” he said. “The three modules are the dike system, bulk tanks and metering and elecronic skid. All that is needed is warehouse floor space. Add air pressure and electricity and you are ready to go. Unlike a fixed bulk facility, this equipment is designed to be moved to another location with relative ease.”