Does your manufacturing supply chain include returnable transport items, or RTIs? These shipping containers - anything from large shipping receptacles, carts, or pallets to simple trays, totes or boxes - used to ship your goods to your customers.
These containers are shipped with the expectation that they will be returned to you for subsequent re-use. If so, you may have a problem in terms of managing this asset that can be easily remedied with Radio Frequency Technology (RFID).
This is especially true if you are utilizing a manual process for tracking your containers. Your manual tracking system may be vulnerable to conditions that are costing you money - anything from inefficiencies in container deployment, delays in your supply chain or increased cost. Replacing your current shipping container tracking system with an RFID tracking system can result in increased asset management as well as lower costs.
So how do you know if your business is a viable candidate for such a change? Here are a few areas where you may have already experienced some concern that can guide you in your evaluation and subsequent decision.
Costs and Knowing Where Containers Are at Any Given Time Is Out of Control
- Where are your containers? Are they sitting in the warehouse they were shipped to awaiting dispatch back to your facility? Did they suffer damage or have they been lost in transit? Or maybe they’re already in transport.
- If you find yourself asking questions such as these then you have a visibility problem with your shipping containers and may be spending money on replacement containers when you might not actually need them.
- If any of this sounds familiar, RFID, via RFID tags and scanning technology, offers a viable alternative that will not only allow you to know where in the supply chain your shipping containers are, it will also help you to save money.
Your Container Inventory Has Experienced Excessive, Unexplained Losses
- Can you say for certain just how many of the shipping containers originally shipped to your customer’s warehouse have moved on to their retail locations? Could it be that your customers have, on occasion, momentarily misplaced or inadvertently returned your containers to a different supplier?
- If you have experienced any of these potential problems and are having difficulty knowing for certain when your containers will be returned to your facility, how many may need to be replaced from existing inventory, or how many may need to be purchased to restock your inventory, then a system that operates with RFID technology just may be the answer you’ve been searching for.
You Have Purchased Additional Containers to Replace Losses From Your Supply Chain
- Often, suppliers that utilize containers for shipping purposes allow for a substantial quantity of backup containers in their inventory which can be introduced immediately into their supply chain to cover any losses due to either their own deficiencies in supply chain visibility, or from physical losses due to their customer’s mismanagement of these assets. Either way, this may be reflected in increased inventory costs that can greatly impact their bottom line.
- If this is you, and your business portrayed here, then you may need to explore options for replacing your current tracking system with one equipped with RFID technology. One that will save you both time and money in managing your shipping container assets.
You Have Damaged Your Relationship With A Customer Due to Container Inefficiencies
- The danger here is that a lack of visibility in your container supply chain is not only inefficient and subjects your business to potential losses, it may also hamper your ability to adapt quickly to your customer’s requests for changes in routing or in their own supply chain processes. This has the potential to damage relationships that you may have spent a long time in cultivating. In a worst case scenario it can also result in a parting of the ways with one of your valued customers.
- An RFID enabled container supply chain and tracking system ensures that no matter what your customers throw at you by way of requests for operational changes, you’ll know exactly how many containers you have on hand and the exact location of where they are physically located in the supply chain.
With all of the challenges and demands associated with producing your product line and placing it with satisfied customers, the last thing in the world you need is to be beset by costly problems related to delivering your product.
Any additional time, effort or money spent on this operational sector of your business is time, effort or money that is probably better spent on your product. Investing in an RFID system to manage this vital sector of your business may be an investment that positively impacts your entire operation.