Military Pallets, Boxes and Containers – Part 5 Boxes and Packaging
In the previous parts of this series of posts I have had a look at containers and pallets, but what about boxes that go on pallets that are put into containers?
To characterise military packaging as being simply a box does the packaging industry a great disservice, yes, they can be a simple folding cardboard box that contains rations, but they can also be a system that must keep a missile at exactly the correct environmental condition or even a Trident warhead.
Ultimately, most military equipment comes in a box of some sort.
It should come as no surprise that military packaging is subject to a number of standards, DGS PS 5104 for example, describes the requirements for ‘Cleanliness and Packaging Requirements for Naval Nuclear Primary Plant’. There are a number of other standards, all described in our old friend JSP 886, specifically, Volume 7 Part 8.
The JSP 886 policy states that;
It is MOD policy that all PHS&T requirements for all items within the project are considered so that they are packaged and labelled, stored, handled and transported as appropriate via the supply chain so that items reach the user in a usable and acceptable state.
PHS&T stands for Packaging, Handling, Storage and Transport, the four key elements governing the whole subject. Munitions, clothing, fuels, lubricants and dangerous goods are also covered by other packaging standards. Factors that inform the PHS&T plan for a given item include the physical characteristics of the item, timing and mode of movements, movements agency requirements, both Defence and Commercial, specific asset management requirements, operational requirements and the lifeing of articles (shelf life).
Specifically for packaging, if any manufacturer or service provider wants to work with the MoD (in respect of packaging for those items covered by Defcon 129 or ‘JSP886 Volume 7 Part 802) they have to be certified against the new MPAS (Military Packaging Accreditation Scheme). MPAS is administered by Allan Webb Ltd in conjunction with the MoD and certification bodies like LRQA, DNV and BSI.
It is essentially, ISO9000 with an additional 8 sets of military packaging specific requirements.
Packaging is also recycled, for the MoD, this is done by Leeds company Austin Hayes under 5 year £18.5m contract awarded in 2010.
There are a wide variety of factors that the packing designer must address as diverse as sharp edge protection and space filling. Wood is still an entirely valid material to use alongside metals and plastics and there is even a preferred hierarchy of packaging, from paper or plastic bags to specialised packing cases. Some of these must also be re-useable.
Items like ammunition boxes have extra complications that go beyond packaging, storage and transport efficiency, they must of course be attuned completely to the needs of the user. Even what might seem a minor issue like which way an ammunition box lid opens in relation to the feed side of a weapon will actually be a major issue for the user. For heavy items like ammunition, box sizes must also consider how many can be packed to a standard pallet.
‘Special to Contents’ is used to define a box designed solely for one type of item, a missile for example, or even a Reaper UAV.
Although there are many defined sizes for crates and boxes in all the materials I read there did not seem to be anything specific about how they could fit together like lego for efficient utilisation of pallets and containers, unlike the Euro Box which is predicated on being able to fit in all manner of combinations and permutations onto a standard Euro Pallet (more on that in a future post)
I think it is interesting that the light gun image above shows the use of a moulded plastic case for the ammunition rather than the more traditional types and pallets, progress never stops though I guess.
To close the post, a look at a box, or is it a pallet?
The Cliplok system uses engineered plywood and and ingenious metal clip to create flat packed boxes that can also have integral forklift truck pockets so it is both a box and a pallet.
Cliplok have created a number of interesting solutions from this basic system including fuel bladder containers, ammunition boxes and a number of special to contents boxes.
The rest of the series…