NMLU solution

New Modular Load Unit (NMLU)

Ton Bertens from Van Eck explains the innovations introduced by Clusters 2.0 New Modular Load Units (NMLU).

New Modular Load Unit (NMLU) with innovative handling and transhipment technology consists of a new Modular Load Unit (NMLU) at sub-container level, with the following key features:

  • NMLU dimensions are in line with those of containers: 20 or 40 feet mainly used for deep-sea transport, and 45 feet mainly used hinterland/land or short-sea transport. Thus, no changes are required on current equipment used for loading, unloading and transporting units.
  • NMLUs enable standardization and modularization along the supply chain, allowing smaller and modular loading units to be combined in a larger loading unit.
  • NMLUs improve reverse logistics, facilitating collection and storage of empty units.
  • NMLUs can be handled on the same level as pallets, allowing consumer goods to be packed on the production line without further handling until delivery to the end customer or hub.

NMLU addresses the global inefficiencies and limitations of current packaging solutions, including:

  • Poor fill levels of packing units and transportation means (42,6% average utilization of trucks and containers at departure);
  • Poor utilization of storage space in warehouses and terminals;
  • Handling inefficiencies (time spent to pack /repack of products to feed cargo into different partners’ systems);
  • Security and safety risks due to discontinuities in the handling process
  • Limitations to expanding the range of products and destinations, due to the difficult adaptation to different handling systems and storage formats along the chain;
  • Environmental impact due to inefficient resources utilisation, in terms of higher energy consumption and CO2.

NMLU enables a more efficient and more flexible shipment, allowing shippers and logistic service providers (LSP) to:

  • Increase load factors of boxes, containers and vehicles. NMLUs allow better fill rates (less void space) and can be easily combined, loaded and unloaded to increase load factor.
  • Bundle cargo of individual company or collaborating partners to enable intermodal transport. Allowing to ship goods directly to destination
  • Enable Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments for both small and large companies. NMLUs can be filled by product and customer at the plant and then bundled for transport
  • Increase handling efficiency. Modularization reduces non-value-added handling activities.
  • Increase first/last-mile delivery efficiency enabling innovative city logistics solutions.

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Clusters 2.0 project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 723265

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