Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The Box or the Chocolates?

I believe it was Vance Packard, in his seminal book, The Hidden Persuaders that told the story of how Whitman© Chocolates used to spend more on developing and producing the box in which the chocolates were sold then on the chocolates themselves. The packaging was more important then the chocolates to selling the product. Human nature? Perhaps. A sustainable solution? No.

Think Lindt ® chocolates.

This same myopic approach seems to be driving the discussion about Container security and monitoring solutions. The technology discussion is trumping the business imperative. Truth is, after determining the technologies reliability, flexibility and ease of use, users -- the 3PLs and their clients, the consignees -- don’t care about the engineering or hardware.

Think iPod®.

The optimal container monitoring solution recognizes:

  • The box (Container) is not important: it’s the goods inside the Container that matters
  • The truck or Vessel that delivers the goods is not important: it’s the goods in the box’s on the truck or Vessel that matters
  • The cost of the box is not material, the cost of the cargo is


Net net ,,, it’s the contents that matter, not the box, not the vessel, not the truck and not the technology. The monitoring industry needs to recognize that importers and exporters will not adopt a solution that’s proprietary, infrastructure dependent, inflexible, complex or expensive.

The importers and exporters will adopt a monitoring technology that is:

  • Flexible, portable and reliable
  • Infrastructure free to be deployed globally
  • Interoperable with existing supply chain solutions and client applications
  • Configurable to the clients business requirements
  • Beneficial to the business, reducing costs and improving financial performance


Again, think iPod®.

And think universal, flexible, portable, globally deployable, interoperable, configurable and beneficial.

  • Flexible: monitoring service can work with dry, reefer or tank containers
  • Portable: monitoring device moves to the container, any container, as required
  • Reliable: 99.9% service availability for global track, trace and monitor
  • Globally deployable, infrastructure free, the service follows the cargo, not vice versa
  • Interoperable: monitoring service can be integrated with other technologies (RFID, Bar Code and emerging technologies) and applications, ERP’s, SC solutions and client proprietary applications
  • Configurable: the monitoring service sensors, business events, alerts and reporting has to be client configurable to the requirements for the specific trip.
  • Beneficial: the service must enable clients to recognize real costs savings from the supply chain, thereby improving overall financial performance.


Any monitoring service that is dependent on the container (the box), difficult to deploy globally because of a dependency of external infrastructure, layers on an incompatible application, and fails to produce financially beneficial results, won’t be adopted by the logistics industry or their clients, the consignees.

For proof of this assertion, look at the existing adoption rate of deployed container monitoring solutions, it won’t take you long.

(by Arthur Radford)

iPod® is a trademark of Apple Corporation.
Lindt® is a trademark of Lindt & Sprungli

2 comments:

peter said...

Yes, I agree with you. The goods are more important than their containers. The business will result in a loss if it gives more importance to the package than on improving the quality of its products. The Supply Chain Management Services should consider improving the goods to see an increase in the business.

Christopher Sciacca said...

Just the opposite, Cadbury, recently announced that it is not shipping its famous chocolate Easter Eggs in boxes, but rather just using the foil wrapping.

Also on a different subject Supply Chain Management Review just published an interesting article on smart containers. http://www.scmr.com/article/CA6518145.html