Europeans Streamline Grease Packages

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Life is about to become a lot simpler for packagers and users of grease in Europe, thanks to industry acceptance of a new standard that streamlines the variety of package types.

The first step was taken months ago when the European Lubricating Grease Institute adopted a standard that its Grease Packaging Working Group had spent approximately seven years developing. More recently, officials said, the standard has actually gone into use as large marketers and users agreed to recognize it.

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The big players have decided to take part now, working group Chairman Werner Moller told Lube Report last week, without identifying individual companies. At first they all were a little skeptical [about the market accepting the standard], but now they are satisfied.

Moller, of Europack Packaging and Fluid Management GmbH in Hamburg, Germany, said ELGI started the initiative in 1996, partly to address the proliferation of grease packages and partly because the grease market was shrinking.

A lot of grease plants in Europe are closing, he said. There are fewer plants, and they have to take over sizes and shapes of packages from the plants that no longer exist. They also have to stock higher numbers of each type of package.

There were a huge number of articles. Until now, we had half-kilo packages, one kilo, five kilo, 12.5, 15, 18, 20, 25 kilo, 30 kilo, 50 kilo, 150, 180. And there were different materials and shapes for each size. This drives up costs for suppliers because they need dispatch equipment that is very expensive and because volumes [for each type of package] are very low. For users, it made it almost impossible to change suppliers.

Moller said the new standard reduces the number of packages used in Europe from more than 50 to just nine. It defines six sizes ranging from 0.4 kg to 180 kg (about 14 ounces to 400 pounds).Packages in three sizes may be made from tin or plastic, while just one material is specified for the remaining three sizes. The standard also defines diameter, height and shape for each size. (See the Working Group’s report online at http://www.elgi.org.)

The working group included representatives from grease marketers, grease packagers, package manufacturers, grease users and consultants. Moller said the success of the initiative was due to the involvement of all sides. Still, for all the benefits, companies deciding to recognize the standard did not do so lightly. An analysis by the working group found that suppliers may incur costs of hundreds of thousands of euros to conform to the new specifications.

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