"Our vision is to revolutionize international goods distribution with universal trolleys." These are the ambitious words of Søren Bøgede Andersen, CEO of Uni-Troll Europe. At the IPM Essen 2016, he presented the idea for the first time with prototypes and was this year present with three Uni-Troll models. These new universal trolleys caught the eye of several visitors, including large parties like Royal FloraHolland, Emsflower and Landgard. "Organisations like these are the ones, who can benefit from the potential of this concept", says Andersen.
Steen Juul Thomsen, Concept and Automation Manager at Uni-Troll Europe, at the IPM Essen 2019.
What is Uni-Troll?
Uni-Troll is an universal trolley solution that is based on a visionary principle of a circular economy. "It fits to the standard ISO modular measurements, and is designed to be transported directly from the producer into the store - replacing expensive and environmentally damaging one way packaging and display solutions."
Besides, the trolleys are easy to pack down in order to utilize space optimally, whether in the store, the warehouse or during transport. "In cases of empty transport or storage, our trolleys can be destacked and stacked so they take up a minimum of space."
Why the horticultural industry needs a new trolley system
According to Andersen, there are several reasons why the horticultural industry needs a new trolley system. "Besides the fact, that there is a need for more sustainable supply chains, we see that profit margins are far too low in the horticultural industry", says Andersen. "Too much handling is being done."
So, what will this new trolley system mean for each link in the horticultural chain? Let’s start from the growers perspective. "This is actually where it all started", says Andersen. "Danish Steen Juul Thomsen, who with his brothers grow 6 million pot plants a year, wanted to automate his packaging process. 30 percent of the revenue they are spending on labor, of which the half is spent in the packing process. So, he contacted me and together with an engineer, we designed the Uni-Troll based upon his idea. It can be easily handled by machines and robots, with and without products on."
Then, at the auction or wholesaler, Andersen sees that too much handling is being done. The plants and flowers that are sold through the auctions, for example, are being repacked on own trolley systems of the retailers. These trolley systems are not suited for flowers and plants, as they do not have the same measurements of the packages in which the flowers/plants are supplied in - they are offered in CC measurement. The Uni-Troll will eliminate these repacking processes and in turn will also eliminate the use of one-time plant trays." On top of that, as labor costs are rising, more and more is being automated. Big automated warehouse installations, for example, explode over the last years. Then, trolley systems need to be designed for its purpose too, and the Uni-Troll is."
Finally, the trolley will reach its destination; the retailer. Also here, Andersen and his team thought about the possible benefits it can bring. "Shelves can be moved with products on, and in this way, the plants and flowers can still be shipped dense, but also easy to be prepared to look good in the store. On top of that, all the shelves can be sloped a bit with a simple tool, which in turn displays the product better."
How does it all work?
The concept is tight together by a visionary principle of a circular economy trolley pool. "It optimizes the reserves as well as a pay-by-use in a range of customized and product-specific “pools” of trolleys for stakeholders with the same needs. The customers/users will have co-ownership of these trolley pools, meaning that they share administration, development and R&M costs."
It will take some time
"The difficulty now is to get a group of users together, who wants to go with it. Something we discuss with some of the big players in the industry to do tests. People have to see it with their own eyes and feel it in the wallet."
For experience, Andersen knows that it will take a will for a concept to break ground as he has been chairman of the board of CC for several years. "For CC, it took almost 10 years to get a number of 100,000 trolleys on the market." In the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, Uni-Troll already received the first orders, "but in the horticulture everyone seems to wait to see what happens, but someone needs to do something." According to Andersen, it is important, that some of the bigger organizations takes responsibility for the future supply chain. "And in my opinion, in the horticulture industry, there are only few who can do it. They should realize, that it is not easy, but that it is a start and that it takes some time."
Andersen is currently talking with several in the industry for some possible trials. "The trolley M4 we have decided to include in our assortment will be a good new auction trolley, which then will get EURO measurements, and M4 also has good potential to be incorporated in the automated processes in the industry, as it can load a EURO pallet at the base frame".
What about the CC trolleys?
So, what will happen with the CC/DC trolleys, when the Uni-Troll concept takes off? "CC has 23,000 uses, so I am sure that it will be existent and maybe in the future, and we will be happy to cooperate and support each other and work together for the benefit of the horticultural industry"