Tool-less crates have replaced many older crate designs. As a crate buyer you will find it much easier to buy these ready to assemble crates than the crates we sell. Major shipping supply companies as well as crate manufacturers themselves sell these crates and often at great prices. The question for you as a crate buyer is whether to use these snap together designs or to stick with the traditional crates.
These knockdown or tool-less crates offer numerous advantages over traditional crate designs. They are cheap to produce. They can be assembled and disassembled by inexperienced people. They require little or no tools to do either task. Lead times tend to be very short due to them being stock items and also fast to produce. These crates can be disassembled and stored flat until they are needed again. They can be reused multiple times, some companies claiming ten or more times. For many businesses using these crates makes tremendous sense.
Another complicating factor is the nature of the crating business itself. Most crating companies are slow to respond to quotes and often wont at all. Further many would not be interested in taking on an order for a single crate or a few crates. As a buyer you are left in a position where many companies will not take your money even though the job would be profitable. Poor industry performance has helped the emergence and adaptation of these various snap together crates.
There are some serious disadvantages to these crates, however. For high value items, they are not tamper evident. Someone could open them and steal from the inside of your shipment, close up the crate with no external evidence of their actions. Tamper evident tape could be sanded out and reapplied. These crates are also not as strong as regular crates. For domestic LTL and particularly international LCL the combination of lower strength and no anti-tamper mechanisms make them not ideal candidates. If your crate needs bracing or something other than a plain box your costs and the benefits of these designs rapidly disappear. No longer can you fold them flat, no longer will they be inexpensive, and they don’t have the performance characteristics of the traditional crate.
A misconception about traditional crates is that they always need tools to open and close them. This is simply not true. Crates can have hinges and locking mechanisms that can be opened and closed with just your hands, and locked shut for transport. These are easy to use and have a professional feel that the snap together crates cannot match. These crates can be reused over and over again. Further the crates themselves will be more robust making for something that surpasses the snap together crates in all but cost. Bear in mind that the snap together crates are only economical if ordering a standard size.
Tool-less crates have met widespread acceptance in industry for their cost effectiveness, ease of ordering, and their easy reusability. However, they have their limitations which make them suitable only in particular situations. If you are looking for a wood box to contain something of modest to low value for a short shipment, then these crates are ideal. However, if you are looking for something more robust, or a better fit to your particular product, you will likely have to choose a traditional crate.