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Why choosing a roll cage could be the biggest logistics decision you ever make?

The humble roll cage, stalwart of the logistics industry for many years, continues to be the most efficient way to move mixed loads through the supply chain with minimal handling and ease of replenishment.

The roll cage has a long history that is worthy of an essay in its own right. The UK was one of the first markets in the world to adopt the roll cage, now used widely across Europe and growing in use across the rest of the World.

The roll cage, as with many new products, develops in technology as markets evolve. First to market is not always best, and early adopters can suffer long term by making the ‘right decision at the time’.  Those who bought a Betamax video player will understand.  Similarly, there are many retailers, particularly in the UK, still using old roll cage technology. And these solutions are so embedded in their logistics networks that changing to more efficient, lower cost solutions is a difficult investment decision.

Without naming any specific UK retailers, it is not hard to find a logistics network that has chosen a fleet of roll cages that now influences so many aspects of the supply chain including vehicle choice, case size, automation options, labour cost, store replenishment, pick efficiency, environmental impact to name a few.

Another interesting fact about the UK’s use of roll cages is the uniqueness of the cages used in this market. Those in the industry will be familiar with UK A-Frame and Z-Frame cage designs both used widely in grocery and retail logistics in the UK. Outside of the UK, not just in Europe, but Globally, you will struggle to find any retailer using this type of old technology. Instead, more efficient, lighter, lower cost Compactainer and Foldia type roll cages are the norm. Today in continental Europe over 20million Compactainer roll cages are in daily use, whilst in the UK that number is far less than half a million.

So what can you learn and how can you benefit from this.

Firstly, if a move away from pallet picking is something your business is considering, then make sure you engage with an expert on roll cages rather than just imagining that all roll cages are the same. If you are buying roll cages today because they are the same type used by other UK retailers then this should be a red flag. Just because leading retailers are using a solution, does not make it the right choice, or the right choice for your business.

Secondly, if your existing fleet is limiting your ability to grow, automate or improve then it is still worth a review to see how new technology could be adopted and integrated into your existing fleet, even if just benchmarking your existing operations.

All roll cages are not the same. Ensuring you make the right choice to suit your business operation is worth investigating. The cost of making an uninformed choice today can impact your business for years to come and impede your ability to evolve.

Paul Straw
Sales Manager UK & Ireland

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