Meat Processing Case Study:   HEB

When a meat processing plant serving 230 stores throughout Texas and Mexico decided to change their supplier of delivery containers, who did they turn to? ORBIS.

"Choosing ORBIS was a no-brainer," says HEB Meat Processing Manager, Bruce Quenstedt. "The old containers we used had no lids, which made stacking difficult. We didn’t want to deal with the logistics of matching detached lids with containers. Containers with attached lids are easier to palletize because they can be quickly placed anywhere on the stack."

HEB was accustomed to the benefits of returnable plastic containers and pallets. They use plastic returnables for meat processing as well as bakery, dairy and general merchandise distribution. The conversion from HEB’s previous tote supplier to ORBIS has enabled HEB to reduce its fleet of containers from 35,000-24,000 and increased inventory turns 400%. HEB packs meat and products to order, which allows them to pack two days prior to delivery.

HEB has seen a cost savings of roughly $6/tote, as well as 50% increase in storage efficiency. "We could only fit 20 totes to a pallet with our previous system. They were just too big. This caused a problem in the warehouse because we had to accommodate for the overhang off the pallet," said Quenstedt.

Since the switch to ORBIS, HEB comfortably fits 30 totes to a pallet, without overhang. "Another thing I like about this line is that we didn’t have to design the entire warehouse around a tote," said Quenstedt. Extra time was spent configuring pallets so meat totes were positioned on top.

ORBIS totes are not only easy to stack, but they also nest efficiently when empty. HEB prefers ORBIS model GA6040-27 for its Laughlen conveyor system which is used for filling and palletizing. The container met their needs and no adjustment to their conveyor system was necessary. Plus, the ORBIS model weighs around 5 lbs. (3.5 lighter than the previous container) and the solid construction holds up to 45 lbs., providing easier maneuvering and shipping.

"This has increased the weight efficiency of the HEB delivery trucks. We generally ship between 4,000 and 6,000 totes per day," Quenstedt said. "These containers work very well within our delivery system."