Four Ways to Save Using RFID for Returnable Asset Tracking


Returnable assets like containers, pallets, reusables and rentals are essential but are often undervalued economic components of modern supply chains. For companies that own or lease such items, tracking and managing these assets is critical to business success. But as these assets transition between partners or become damaged, overstocked, lost or stolen, companies can lose millions of dollars of value in the process.

Manual methods are often the culprit. The use of spreadsheets or other paper-based methods remains prevalent in these industries. But manual tracking of fixed assets is time-consuming, prone to human error and wasteful compared to modern alternatives. Here is a look at four ways in which you can save on tracking returnable assets using an RFID solution. Consider how gaining real-time visibility into your returnable assets could set you up for financial success and growth in the long term.

Traceability and Real-Time Asset Visibility

As parts and products traverse supply chains, returnable-asset providers must retain some visibility into how their equipment is handled, where it is located, and at what stage those assets are in their storage and usability lifecycles.

Attaching RFID tags to returnable assets allows for real-time tracking of these assets, providing traceability and visibility that adds real business value, such as reducing waste and excess inventory in warehouses; shortening or preventing outages when assets fail or become damaged, lost or stolen; streamlining distribution efficiencies and procedures; and analyzing performance and supply chains for a greater understanding of asset value.

Increased Efficiencies and Reduced Risk

Operational risks and inefficiencies burden companies with unwieldy costs that can be avoided altogether with the right tools. When companies lack real-time visibility into their returnable asset pool, they are more likely to lose sight of the efficacy of their legacy equipment, lose returnable assets to damage and theft, and pay unnecessarily for excess stock to protect against these uncertainties.

When information about returnable assets is presented accurately and in real time, companies can visualize and anticipate problems and opportunities, which drives cost savings. Companies can minimize excess stock, optimize supply chains and equipment for wear and tear, and track returnable-asset locations more accurately, preventing losses from failures, loss and theft.

Lifecycle Monitoring and Optimization

When each returnable asset begins its service, an invisible clock—each returnable asset's lifecycle—begins ticking, whether company stakeholders can visualize that clock or not. Unfortunately, companies often lose tremendous amounts of value in the mismanagement of equipment lifecycles. As Forbes describes, "Tracking these assets effectively is essential if companies want to avoid paying penalties for losing them, minimize rental fees, and otherwise optimize their utilization and return on investment. Accurate, real-time information about these assets is key."

Knowledge management is foundational to successful lifecycle monitoring and optimization, but companies need the right digital tools to implement it effectively. The right technology allows them to combine deep supply chain familiarity with data about their returnable assets. RFID hardware, combined with the right software for analysis, provides real-time visibility into the relationship between these two paradigms.

Centralized Management and Configurability

Companies that continue to use manual processes typically fall into one of two categories: they have fragmented legacy systems their employees choose not to use or do not use efficiently, or they lack software for returnable-asset management altogether. New, centralized management systems for returnable-asset management can be solutions for both categories.

Flexible software solutions can replace or be integrated with any ERP, business intelligence or other legacy system to shape existing processes and workflows. But they are standalone solutions in and of themselves, providing myriad benefits any team can appreciate: knowing the location, status, and condition of returnable assets; accessing scheduled maintenance checks and signing equipment in and out of service; viewing vendor histories and ordering new items; and more.

RFID systems accelerate time to value, adding new efficiencies almost immediately. As Forrester describes in an article focused on track-and- trace solutions, "Swapping cumbersome, error-prone manual data entry for a quick scan... almost totally eradicates the fat-finger errors that cause disruption to the supply chain and chips away at customer retention rates."

Start Saving Today

Automated systems that use RFID tags provide greater efficiencies and cost savings compared to manual and paper-based tracking methods. Returnable asset-tracking software can drive cost savings in surprising and lasting ways as well, adding long-term business value with minimal additional effort.

Source: RFID Journal