Mowi Scotland: Fresh ideas for transporting salmon

A simple solution for moving products from A to B

Improving efficiency. Cutting operating costs. Reducing waste.

These were the goals Mowi Scotland had in mind when searching for a new way to transport HOG salmon to its processing plant in Rosyth and to customers across the UK.

From Rosyth, Mowi – the largest salmon farming company in the world – provides high-quality salmon to some of the UK’s biggest retailers, including Sainsburys, Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Ocado, and Amazon.

But as the company soon discovered, things weren’t as simple as replacing like for like.

Ewan MacColl, operations director for processing at Mowi, said: “Normal packaging for fresh, gutted salmon is expanded polystyrene. Before we started working with PSS, most of our fish was moved in EPS boxes holding around 20-25kg of product.

“We were keen to reduce our waste and keep costs low, but when we tried other returnable solutions, they never quite worked. Some were the same size as our EPS boxes, and others were bigger – but the storage and return logistics were inefficient.”

It was clear that an innovative, forward thinking solution was needed. Enter Packaging Solutions Scotland (PSS) and its industry-leading S-bin…

A unique approach to reusable packaging

“PSS came up with the concept of a collapsible bin which solved so many of the issues we face,” said Ewan, “including making the return logistics much more cost effective.”

HOG salmon is traditionally transported on pallets, in lidded polystyrene boxes held together with bands. Companies like Mowi (and their clients) have to dedicate significant space to storing these, both before and after use – and also must handle all disposal and recycling.

With PSS’s innovative S-bin design, storage space is kept to a minimum while capacity per container is vastly increased – up to 400kg of fresh product – and that’s only the beginning.

Angus MacKay, Mowi’s planning manager, explained: “Dealing with fewer units is a huge benefit operationally, as it’s less labour intensive – and there’s less waste.

“In a polystyrene box we’d need lots of flake ice, whereas fish in the S-bin is suspended in an ice-water slurry. Not only is this an extremely efficient method of cooling, but it’s great for maintaining high product quality.”

Unusually for packaging suppliers, PSS operates on a hire system – which also includes transport and logistics support. This, too, provides major benefits for Mowi.

“Having PSS handle logistics and replacements for us helps to keep our costs to a minimum. Compared to EPS, there’s a huge saving... by hiring the S-bins, we don’t have to worry about managing stock or replacing worn-out bins – we pay a trip rate, and that includes the cost of the bin and the transport. We’re currently in discussions with PSS to include a washing service, which would further reduce our time commitments.” - Ewan MacColl

Passing on the benefits

It’s not just Mowi that sees the advantage of using S-bins – the firm’s customers up and down the country are, too.

Ewan said: “We’ve seen suppliers loading polystyrene boxes onto lines and it’s always messy. For a processor, the S-bin works fantastically well because of the way they can handle it.”

Angus added: “When the product arrives at one of our customers’ factories, it’s far easier for them to handle from an S-bin.

“Instead of a pallet of up to 27 boxes, which need to be opened individually, our clients can tip product straight onto their line using machinery. There’s no manual handling, no chunks of ice blocking up the drains, and no polystyrene coming into contact with the line.

“Plus, instead of having to compact and dispose of or recycle waste, they can instead collapse down the bins to store them together, and they’re collected within a couple of days.”

Due to the innovative design of the S-bin, 12 units can be collapsed and stored inside a thirteenth – ensuring space is used efficiently.

“Using the S-bin provides a huge benefit to our customers – which in turns, provides benefits for us,” said Ewan.

A true partnership

For Mowi, the strength in working with Packaging Solutions Scotland is in a joined-up approach.

Ewan continued: “We worked with PSS to increase the height of the bins to increase the internal capacity – and now we can fit 16.5 tonnes of product on a truck.

“That’s what’s great about working with the team at PSS: they are open to suggestions. They know the industry well and are keen to develop a product that is fit for purpose. We see working with them very much as a partnership.

“The S-bin is a unique product – no-one else is providing anything like it. PSS has an open, flexible and innovative approach. They have good industry knowledge. And, importantly, they’re competitive on price.”

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