Packaging Corner: Technology manages returnable packaging, cuts loss

Asset management programs, RFID and GPS solutions are helping companies keep track of closed-loop transport packaging.
By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large
August 01, 2013 - MMH Editorial

With an investment in reusable transport packaging—such as plastic trays, containers and pallets—comes the added challenge of keeping track of it all. Even within a closed-loop system (with products or components shipped in returnable packaging from a supplier to a manufacturer, or from a distribution center to a retailer and sent back empty), assets can disappear.

To help users better manage their returnable investment, Rehrig Pacific (rehrigpacific.com) has expanded its asset management service offerings.
“We offer everything from behavioral usage training—teaching the associates and truck drivers who handle packaging about its value to the bottom line—to attaching modern sensing technologies for hands-free management,” explains Kaley Parkinson, the company’s national sales manager of supply chain technology services.

The evolution of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and readers makes the technology a much more cost- and process-effective way to monitor returnable packaging, he says. “Because RFID tracking is at the each level, it gives visibility to what every asset is doing and highlights weak points.”
By implementing an asset management program, Parkinson’s customers have seen 30% to 50% reduction in reusable packaging losses in the first year. Plus, there’s an extra benefit beyond loss mitigation, he says.

“Reusable transport packaging has a unique place in the supply chain; it’s everywhere. Adding RFID allows it to be leveraged for greater business intelligence,” he explains. “You can tie it to the goods in the containers to improve freshness, reduce shrink and manage personnel because it adds a layer of accountability.”

To locate reusable packaging that’s gone AWOL outside of a known loop, Rehrig Pacific applies global positioning system (GPS) technology to a few assets to see where they roam.

“We’ve uncovered incidents such as theft to recycle the plastic for money, misuse by another trading partner, confusion by drivers over ownership of similar, unbranded packaging and even misappropriation by a different location within the same company,” says Parkinson. “Using RFID and GPS takes a problem that often comes down to finger pointing and lays clear facts on the table.”

Read more Packaging Corner



About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Editor at Large

Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The Department of Commerce reported that January retail sales were up 0.2 percent compared to December and up 3.7 percent annually at $449.9 billion, and the NRF reported that January retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, rose 0.6 percent over December and 1.4 percent compared to January 2015.

On the freight shipments side, Cass reported that January shipments––at 1.025––trailed December by 1.3 percent and January 2016 by 0.2 percent. These declines were less than the 4.9 percent drop from November to December, though, and January shipments still topped the 1.0 mark for the 65th straight month in December.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported this week that its Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) saw a 0.4 percent decline from November to December, its second straight decline on the heels of a 1.0 percent decrease from October to November.

Carloads saw a 11.7 percent annual decline at 241,680, and intermodal containers and trailers rose 10.5 percent to 262,830

An amendment to the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea convention will go into effect requiring all shippers (importers and exporters) to certify and submit the Verified Gross Mass – the combined weight of the cargo and the container – to the steamship line and terminal operator in advance of loading the container aboard a vessel.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.