Driving Supply Chain Efficiency Through Returnable Asset Tracking

TrackX News | September 6, 2019


Most assets move through a supply chain, whether it’s the food and beverages making their way to our dinner tables, or the industrial parts used to build and fix our automobiles. While its very intuitive that these assets are extremely valuable to the companies using them and the consumers receiving them, the containers that transport these items can be as valuable as the contents they carry. Thus, there is a need to account for the whereabouts of the many different types of containers as well as their contents.

The velocity at which these assets move through the supply chain can be vital to the profitability of these companies.  It is imperative to not only track these items, but manage their movement to gain significant insight into bottlenecks or delays which result in reduced productivity across the entire supply chain.

For decades companies have struggled with manual processes to keep track of their Returnable Transportation Items (RTIs). Multiple spreadsheets and legacy systems are prone to human error and only give you a small glimpse into your supply chain.  As the cost of IoT devices continues to drop while their capabilities increase, the ability to automate the management of your supply chain has become increasingly easier. 

But, technology alone can’t solve the issue, business process optimization through the gathering of data and application of workflows in real-time is necessary. To accomplish this, one must choose the right technologies for the job and ensure the data being captured is accurate and timely.  The variability in the types of containers and products, increases the difficulty to track these items utilizing IoT so choosing the right partner is imperative. In addition, containers can be stacked, nested or coupled leading to further difficulty in capturing the data via IoT technologies. It is this combined value of container and contents along with stacked containers that make tagging, tracing and tracking of these assets is vital to an efficient supply chain.

Containers are in constant motion throughout most supply chains and are very often returned to the owner for reuse over and over again. Optimal container utilization has a direct effect on profitability, but without management of additional attributes such as location, state, condition, ownership, and more related information, companies only see part of the equation. By tagging and tracking containers, companies can better understand transit times, environmental conditions that may affect content quality (or decay), turn rates, and overall cycle operations.

There are dozens of types of containers

      • Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs)
      • Industrial Gas Cylinders
      • Automotive Parts Containers
      • Collapsible Box Containers
      • Plastic Pallet Boxes
      • Beer Kegs
      • Wine Casks
      • Cargo Containers

Containers are used by suppliers to:

      • Deliver parts to automotive manufacturers
      • Deliver bulk supplies such as paint and cleaning compounds
      • Deliver grains, coffee, and cocoa to Food and Beverage companies
      • Shipping finished goods by manufacturers, large retailers and consumer packaged goods companies
      • Containers will also be found in transit within manufacturing and production plants as materials, parts, subassemblies and waste are moving in support of operations

Tagging and tracking containers increases accountability throughout the supply chain, decreasing accounts payable, increasing trust, and offers quality assurance.

Companies that rely on containers to get their goods to market, should consider the benefits of a complete enterprise asset management solution.

Video:  https://youtu.be/V4zQrU8Hd-0Tracking Returnable Assets to Drive Supply Chain Efficiency

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