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7 Reasons to Track Your Reusable Packaging

Posted by IFCO Systems
November 23, 2017

It is no secret that reusable packaging systems hold important benefits for supply chains. They offer superior product protection, ergonomic handholds, a lower carbon footprint on a per use basis and more. But to continually reap those positive attributes, the management of reusables is critical. In the past, the task of counting containers moving across the loading dock was arduous and often fraught with human error. Now with the emergence of new tracking technologies, tracking your packaging is not only feasible but highly accurate. Here are seven reasons why you should consider managing your mobile assets:

1. Plastic pirates are lurking

Many of the benefits of reusable packaging are made possible through repeated reuse. Unfortunately, plastic containers stored outside of facilities may be vulnerable to theft by plastic pirates. If containers prematurely disappear, then the anticipated cost savings and positive sustainability outcomes are compromised. Tracking can help pinpoint areas of loss or unexpected activity, such as a retailer or distribution center returning fewer reusable containers than they receive. Such information can trigger collaborative corrective action to investigate and stop losses.

2. Reusables are too versatile for their own good

Reusable containers are so versatile that sometimes they provide a convenient fit for unauthorized applications. When empty containers do not return as anticipated, they are not available for redeployment where needed. A robust tracking system can pinpoint a failure to return the correct quantity of containers. The good news is that reusable packaging vendors are happy to supply reusable containers that will work perfectly in emerging material handling opportunities.

3. Containers are required when you need them

Unanticipated shortfalls of reusable containers can disrupt production, and require the use of expendable packaging as a stopgap measure. Accurate tracking helps ensure that the right container is available at the right time, and in the right condition to promote supply chain efficiency.

4. Supply chain relationships are too important to compromise

Getting into a blame game discussion with other companies about where reusable trays or crates have gone astray can needlessly cloud business relationships. Accurate, actionable data can provide the basis for an objective discussion, helping to identify and resolve problems before they fester.

5 The fiduciary dark side of missing pallets exists

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) was instituted to protect investors from the risk of fraudulent accounting practices by public companies. When companies report significant assets on their books which they have lost in the course of business, they are leaving themselves exposed. Meeting SOX requirements for mobile assets such as reusable packaging or pallets can be fulfilled through a robust tracking system which demonstrates custody or control of them.

6. Pinpoint product recalls are no longer a luxury, and tracking can help

Did you know that U.S. food product recalls were up 167% in the second quarter of 2016? Tracking technologies can provide visibility into a container's location and history which is vital for effective traceability, while supporting compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act and other food security programs.

7. Big data analytics is coming to a supply chain near you, and reusables can help

Big data has the potential to help companies identify hidden inefficiencies or detect problems earlier and mitigate them more efficiently. With businesses increasingly embracing big data analytics, experts anticipate that data generated by containers with sensors moving through the supply chain will produce information critical to new business insights.

As the price of technology drops and the need grows for industry leading compliance, collaboration and cost-cutting measures, look for tracking to play a significant role in reusable packaging applications.