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Managing Returnable Assets In Motion - RFID For Returnable Transport Items

Source: BlueStar, Inc.

Companies in a wide variety of industries invest substantial capital in their inventories of returnable transport items or RTIs, the durable and reusable cartons, bins, pallets, wheeled trolleys, cages and other containers used to pack and move goods from site to site. Properly managed, RTIs can be a powerful tool to support efficient and sustainable supply chain practices, helping companies to free valuable capital and other resources by reducing the time and money spent to transport goods.

The challenge has been finding an effective way to track and manage RTI asset pools. Units are often used by nonowners with little accountability, so accurate manual audits can be neglected. Shrinkage can reach 25% annually as RTIs are damaged, lost, stockpiled or simply cycled inefficiently. That results in additional purchases and larger-than-optimal inventories just to avoid shortfalls and downtime.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) offers an affordable and efficient way to get the greatest value from RTI inventories. Picture this: At a busy bottling plant, cartons of soft drinks just off the line are being quickly loaded into the plastic RTIs that will carry them to a regional distribution center. As the product rolls through the loading dock and onto a truck, the RTI inventory report is automatically updated – recording not only how many units are headed out, but precisely which units they are, which truck will carry them and which distributor will receive them. Yet no one is carrying a clipboard. No one is counting. There are no forms to sign.