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Considerations when disposing of military equipment

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Bart Nijssen
Account Manager
More articles by Bart Nijssen

What happens to end-of-life defence equipment?

It can be stored, sold, returned to the manufacturer or destroyed. In many cases, this choice is already made in the Defence Disposal Plan (DAP) when the new equipment and essential items are purchased. However, the role of packaging in the disposal process often remains underexposed. In this article, we explain why this is a missed opportunity.

When acquiring new materiel, the Ministry of Defence examines the entire life cycle of this materiel to ensure maximum deployability and to accurately calculate the total cost for the entire life cycle. Consideration is given to the required spare parts, training, maintenance and disposal of the equipment.

Residual value

The best option is determined for each component: storage, sale, return or destruction. Of course, this assessment is made with current knowledge, but the possibilities and the demand for these parts may change in the future. Take the F16, which is now being replaced by the F35. One part of the F16 is stored for our own use, as a spare part, another essential part is refurbished and sold on to another country, yet other parts go back to Lockheed Martin, the OEM. Only those parts which value is zero are destroyed.

Role of packaging

For each component, you have carefully considered what the best destination is before you buy it. Then of course you also want each part to reach its final destination in the right condition. It’s no use if a part turns out to be unusable after a year in storage, during logistical transport or if the equipment you sold arrives damaged at the new user’s premises. And that is exactly where the right packaging can help you.

Points to consider when storing equipment or parts

If you store equipment or parts, you want to use them at a later date. This means you need packaging that optimally protects your product against the conditions in which you store and transport it. When choosing the right packaging, the following points should be taken into account:

  • Conditions
    How sensitive is the product to dust, light, temperature, humidity? What do you need to protect the product from during storage?
  • Transport
    How do you transport the product to storage? Does it require external transport? By land, sea or air? Each type of transport has its own packaging requirements.
  • Storage
    How do you store the product? Stacked? Does the product remain in one place or does it have to be moved? How often and with what?
    Points of attention when selling equipment or parts

Non-strategic goods and goods with a certain scarcity value are sold by the Domains. The sale of strategic movable property that has been developed specifically for military purposes is almost entirely taken care of by the Ministry of Defence itself. In the negotiations, the packaging must of course also be discussed. What does the buyer expect? It is tempting to negotiate only on price. But even more important is of course the functionality of the packaging. And perhaps the customer is prepared to pay a little more for a sustainable and presentable packaging, so definitely include these aspects in the negotiations. To determine which packaging offers the right functionality and protection, you should take the following into account:

  • Transport
    How will the sold part or product be transported to the customer? By land, sea, air? How can you protect your product from the vibrations or G-forces to which it is exposed?
  • Vulnerabilities of the product
    Can the product withstand dust, water, mould, vibrations, UV radiation?
  • Packaging requirements
    What military standard does the packaging need to meet? The most common are Mil-specs (American Military Standards), Stanag standards (Standard Allied Nato Agreements), BS (British Standards) and of course the EN-ISO standards. Often there are also requirements for fonts and symbols on the packaging, size of the pallet, etcetera.
  • Customer requirements
    Is the packaging intended only for transport to the customer? Or does the customer also want to store the product in it? And under what conditions? Or is the customer looking for packaging that is also suitable for daily use of the product?

Carefully map out the route the product will take and the risks involved. What impact resistance does the packaging need to protect the product, what closures does it need to have? Whether you ship Leopards or radar systems to Finland is quite a difference. A Leopard is so robust that it needs little protection, whereas a radar system is highly sensitive to vibrations and must be given optimum protection during transport.

Points to consider when returning or destroying parts

If you send parts back to the manufacturer, the key question is in what condition the manufacturer wants to receive them. Will the manufacturer first melt the products before reusing the residual material? Then protection during transport is less important. But even then, you should think carefully about the packaging, among other things to protect the environment.
Are the parts worthless and will they be destroyed? In that case too, it is important not to lose sight of the environmental aspects when choosing the packaging. When returning or destroying residual material, take your time to select the right packaging.

Ask packaging specialists for advice

Choosing the right packaging for defence material to be disposed of is not an easy task. Ask packaging specialists for advice, they can help you determine which packaging offers the best protection after the disposal of each component. With the right packaging, the equipment lasts longer after disposal, which guarantees an optimal lifespan. Curious what The Packaging People can do for you? Let us know what we can help you with regarding the disposal of defence equipment. Fill in the form below and one of our packaging experts will be happy to help.

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