Trends in Returnable Transport Items (RTI) in Supply Chain Management

Returnable Shipping Items TrendsIn the recent past, tracking Reusable Transport Items (RTIs) was done only by large institutions. In today’s high tech world, RTI’s are used by many businesses, big and small. They’re an obvious necessity for shipping products, but can also directly affect business success as well as profits.

Regardless of your industry, your RTIs are an important part of your operation, and that comes with a cost. Aside from the Internal Cost of Capital, there is a cost to purchase them, a cost to maintain them, and sometimes a cost to dispose of them. In order to improve profitability in today’s marketplace, it is essential to optimize the use of your RTIs. Due to increased volumes, irregular shipping patterns, and high use, manual container tracking methods simply don’t work, are very costly, or are just not feasible.

Your RTIs represent a significant investment in your organization. However, beyond their intrinsic value, their use, condition, and location are just as important. Lost, stolen, and idle shipping platforms cost time and money.

On-Demand Visibility

Monitoring and managing the movement of your RTIs throughout your supply chain represents a significant logistical challenge. Manual processes that are solely dependent on human input lead to errors, and often delays, resulting in lost or under-utilized shipping assets, which negatively impacts revenues.

Smart, forward thinking supply chain and logistics managers understand the need for an automated container tracking system to ensure accurate shipments, improve efficiency, increase visibility, reduce shrinkage of the RTI fleet, minimize labor costs, and ultimately streamline operations.

It is especially helpful for businesses that ship temperature-sensitive perishable products, such as pharmaceutical and food companies. They are increasingly choosing RTIs to ship their product. Intelligent containers, totes, pallets, and bins are now integrated, or can be retro-fitted, with temperature monitoring tags. Not only do they provide the ability to track each RTI’s geo-location, but also enables an intelligent tracking system to manage the condition of the products,

Government Regulations and Taxes

Most businesses struggle with efficiently and effectively tracking and managing their returnable assets. This is especially true where there are a large number of returnables in the fleet, if the business has irregular, spiky shipping periods, when there are many RTIs in the fleet, or when they move frequently between facilities, distribution centers, customers, and suppliers.

It is also important for corporate executives to be aware of the government compliance measures around their returnable assets. Under Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations, they should be concerned with, and be able to monitor and answer questions about, the following issues:

  • Knowing where your assets are at all times.
  • Knowing if there are their any ghost assets still on your books that you no longer have?
  • Knowing how many assets have been lost or stolen that needed to be written off?
  • Knowing if you are paying taxes and insurance on assets that you no longer own?

Today, in response to customer mandates and government regulations, businesses can’t afford to depend on labor intensive, time-consuming processes to manage their shipping assets. Smart, innovative, proactive businesses are implementing tracking systems for their RTIs because they automate these manual processes, and gain cost-effective visibility and control over their assets.

Environmentally Friendly

Aside from the economical efficiencies gained by using RTIs and tracking systems, reusing packaging is also more environmentally efficient. Although the added benefits are proven, why isn’t every business doing it? For most organizations, the idea and processes behind recovering, consolidating, repairing, and reusing shipping assets seems complicated and expensive.

Although a tracking system for reusables can reduce costs per trip, improve your visibility, control, and accountability, allow you to get more use from your existing fleet of returnables, improve customer and supplier relations, and drive up profits, most businesses don’t even know where to start. They don’t know the pros and cons of bar code labels, RFID tags, 3G/4G tags, or use GPS, let alone which one to choose. Although they know data has to be captured, most people don’t know how or where in their supply chain they should capture data.