E-commerce and omni-channel fulfillment have made life difficult for brick & mortar retailers. Unfortunately, what most of these retailers don’t realize, is that they have a distinct advantage over the Amazon’s of the world simply because they already have these brick & mortar outlets, many of which, are already located much closer to the customer. The Cargo Carousel System (CCS) is a “mobile” automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) that fits into any intermodal container or trailer which eliminates the need for loading docks. Four foot cubic “modules” replace pallets and can be brought to the forefront of the container/trailer with the push of a button. By eliminating the need for loading docks you can store and access your inventory from anywhere that you can place an intermodal container with a system that is designed for this new e-commerce paradigm and is not disruptive but completely complimentary to your existing operations. With the Cargo Carousel System (CCS) you simply fence off the space you require and stack as many units as you need right on the ground at the retail store, at the DC or even out in a field; anywhere that helps to streamline your operations and level the playing field with the pure-play e-tailers like Amazon. Now anyone can compete on fulfillment speed with virtually no change to their existing infrastructure or processes. The CCS can also act as lockers to be placed anywhere they’re desired and replenished by simply swapping out spent/empty units with new pre-stocked units or as a delivery system for “buy online, pick-up in store”. The cubic modules within the Carousel can be mixed and matched during transport and, since all modules are interchangeable between Carousels, this means anyone can handle them allowing collaborative distribution between shippers to keep trucks full continuously on any leg of the upstream or downstream journey; a true circular supply chain. And, its digital technology can not only track & trace but can also control the atmosphere inside each module remotely from anywhere in the world with real-time alerting and logging with its cellular and duplex satellite communications system.

Collaborative Distribution Networks – The Cargo Carousel System

We’ve handled reverse logistics and liquidations for Walmart, Costco and other major retailers since the mid-90’s and have realized that the two biggest problems with today’s supply chains are a lack of visibility and underutilized  space in both, the warehouse and the container/trailer. The Cargo Carousel System virtually eliminates wasted space throughout the value chain and provides true Control Tower visibility.

The only way to achieve “true” visibility in the supply chain is to keep the merchandise with the sensors and their readers continuously and between all modes of transport (ship, rail, truck, plane). The Cargo Carousel System achieves Control Tower visibility by changing value chains to value “networks” in the cloud while keeping all merchandise with their sensors (RFID, GPS, temperature, humidity, light exposure, O2, CO2, ethylene, etc.) and their readers continuously and between all modes of transport. With this degree of visibility, combined with one of our modules that is opaque, lockable and sealable, collaborative or pooled distribution can be realized; that module becomes no different than a Fedex package. It can now be handled by any LSP anywhere in the world and the CCS allows them to monitor all sensors and unauthorized door openings in real-time or unlock a module for anyone with the proper authorization anywhere in the world; we can even initiate instant video streaming of perpetrators.

Nextrust is a collaboration of thirty-one European supply chain companies participating in an R&D project that has proven to remove 40% of lorries/trucks and 15% of delivery vehicles from the road, reduce GHG emissions by 70% and increase load factors by 50%. They use a neutral trustee to act as an independent, third-party intermediary to “orchestrate” the entire process and to ensure fair trade practices. The Cargo Carousel System (CCS) achieves the same results as Nextrust without the need for a trustee and it also doubles the available cubic space utilization in  warehouses (see below) while better protecting the merchandise being shipped and adding a reverse network to the same system using the exact same assets to help develop a circular economy.

Eliminate Aisles in the Warehouse

With regular racking, shown on the right, aisles are required (grey area) between the racks for forklifts to maneuver. This takes up more than half of the available cubic space in a warehouse. Add in the taxes, maintenance and heating bills that are paid on this  unnecessarily wasted space and the cost per pallet position escalates dramatically with no increase in efficiency, flexibility, sustainability or scalability. The same number of pallet positions in the same cubic space area is shown below using the Cargo Carousel System but more than twice as much space (grey area) is available for the same number of pallet positions. The wireless sensors and controls (IoT) built into each module identifies the contents and atmospheric conditions in real-time to store and maintain a variety of merchandise with alerting capabilities and continuous logging for historical auditing of operational metrics. Now, consider the effects on the efficiency, flexibility, sustainability and scalability of your supply chain when these same modules are taken on the road where they can eliminate empty back hauls by handling reverse logistics (recyclables, store returns, shelf pulls, overstocks, perishables, etc.) with the same system and at the same time to create the backbone to a circular economy. Since loading docks are not required and intermodal containers are weatherproof merchandise can be stored much closer to the consumer stacked in the parking lot of retail stores while peak season volumes are easily absorbed without the need for costly leases that go unused in the off season. These modules can be double-stacked within the ISO container or trailer without crushing products underneath to maximize cubic space while in transit too.

Returnable Packaging

Returnable packaging isn’t very effective if it doesn’t get returned. The Cargo Carousel System guarantees the return of your packaging by allowing delivery and pick-up at the same time and at any stop up or down the value chain. Each time a “module” is removed from the Carousel it opens up a position for another module to take its place insuring your reusable packaging is returned while also keeping it protected from theft. These standard sized reusable modules are lockable and replace pallets and plastic wrap to offer superior protection and are suspended from the Carousel to better absorb shock.

Standardization allows any retailer, 3PL, distributor, producer, military or disaster relief/ humanitarian aid agencies to use these same modules in any leg of their supply or reverse chains. Each module can be closed, locked and sealed so anyone can use or transport them and the same “sized” modules go to all chains, regardless of products. Interoperability is one of the hallmarks of the Cargo Carousel System.

Modules can be built as racks to carry trays or built with cross-bars at the top to transport and store or display garments. In more general applications they can replace pallets to carry totes or other returnable packaging or stand alone to carry consumer packaged goods that are still being shipped in cardboard boxes. Regardless of their purpose, all modules fit on the Carousel to allow full height utilization of the trailer or container without crushing the merchandise underneath.

By consolidating or pooling LTL shipments, companies can achieve organic growth by increasing the utilization of wasted space on their trucks or in their warehouses. Keeping trucks full by continuously pooling LTL shipments can eliminate empty back hauls while achieving end-to-end visibility in both, the supply and reverse chains.