Innovative Clip-Lok reusable packaging for US Army helicopter rotor blades


Helicopter rotor blade sets are typically packaged and shipped for service and maintenance many times during their lifetime. Traditionally, the blades are shipped in nailed wooden crates, with one blade per crate. Upon arrival at the destination, the boxes are discarded and new boxes built for return shipment. This method is both costly and wasteful. Clip-Lok’s North American partner, packIQ, decided to design a better solution.

“We knew that this idea had great potential,” says Marcel Bakx from packIQ, “so when we met a man from the US Army who was dissatisfied with the existing system we asked him to join us in developing a Clip-Lok solution. He was very happy to share his field experiences with us.”

The result of this cooperation is a nearly five meter long reusable box that carries a complete set of two rotor blades. Despite its size, the box is easy to handle thanks to eight built-in handles, the two-piece lid and beveled pallet runners. “Our contact in the US Army is very pleased with the Clip-Lok solution,” says Marcel Bakx. “As an added benefit, different foam supports can be used in the box to accommodate blades from all helicopter manufacturers.”

Clip-Lok boxes are built of plywood panels according to individual size specifications, and held together with strong spring steel clips. Custom designed dunnage holds the cargo securely in the box. The plywood used in Clip-Lok boxes is extremely durable, weatherproof and certified environmentally friendly. Even with the the pressure, vibration, impact and stacking involved in transportation the boxes can be used time and again – typically over 100 transports with normal handling.

The robust and cost saving helicopter rotor blade crates are now in use by the US Army and this proven application is being extended to other customers around the world.