Through its internet-of-things, tracking solutions and asset management expertise, TracLogik working with several logistics businesses has developed a low-cost multi-technology solution to better track and manage reusable packaging and transport assets such as distribution cages. The solution is designed to dramatically reduce asset loss and improve operational efficiencies.
Businesses using pallets, cages, trolleys, stillages and other forms of returnable industrial packaging for customer deliveries or internal transport are often faced with significant, regular expenditure to replace items lost during the course of business.
High Asset Loss Costs
The typical level of returnable industrial packages lost annually to the industry is on average 10% and the range in cost of an individual piece of equipment can be up to several thousand pounds.
The loss of one or two cages, stillages or trollies is easily written off. However, losing one or two assets a week, from multiple depots or sites quickly amounts to a significant operational cost often of tens of thousands of pounds each year in replacements.
In most cases these missing assets are rarely lost and often attributable to an absence of an effective asset management tracking system.
Working in partnership with several logistics businesses, TracLogik has developed a suite of flexible solutions that can be tailored to overcome these challenges.
Labour Intensive Manual Systems
Businesses have generally been tackling these challenges with combination of manual, labour intensive systems. Keeping track of thousands of assets with poorly developed, disparate systems that are rarely updated with data from manual counts means that the data is always out-of-date – typically the assets have already moved in the time taken between counting the asset and entering the information into the system.
Whilst a manual system may identify a significant operational cost these processes are rarely able to identify the reasons for the asset loss.
The Cost-Benefit Analysis of Asset Tracking Systems
Operators within these sectors are of course acutely aware of the scale of the problem and the ongoing costs associated with the continued loss of these assets.
Frustratingly, up until now, tracking solutions have primarily relied on deploying GPS based devices which do not offer a financially attractive proposition. Further operational issues with battery life and the inability of a GPS based tracking device to help locate packaging assets whilst within a depot, warehouse or other indoor facility have meant that GPS by itself is not a viable solution.
Other systems such as RFID or barcoding often rely on manual intervention which is subject to human error and process fatigue, especially when third parties are asked to contribute to the tracking procedure. They also often lack the ability to acquire location data once the asset is in transit.
GPS, RFID or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)?
The good news is that in addition to GPS tracking, there are other technologies used in the asset tracking sphere; namely WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and RFID. In a defined area, like a campus, manufacturing facility or hospital complex, these technologies are very effective.
Tracking tags, attached to each tracked asset combine with an overlay network of receivers can give real-time location information and, where required, telemetry data.
However, away from the closed environment of a campus or factory, the tracking tags cannot communicate with the receivers and therefore cannot be seen by the system.
The TracLogik Solution
TracLogik combines GPS and Bluetooth Low Energy into a highly effective and versatile industrial packaging tracking solution to harness the strengths of both technologies.
By deploying our integrated GPS - Bluetooth receivers in vehicles, the system can provide a live position for assets tracked by Bluetooth, almost anywhere in the world. This gives full visibility of transport assets through the production facility, to the distribution centre, onto vehicles and at delivered locations.
The TracLogik System enables users to visualise the delivery of assets to partner facilities in real-time. If required, the system can be extended further quickly and cost effectively to provide coverage at the partner facility using Bluetooth with optional 3G/4G cellular communication should other connectivity for the devices be unavailable.
Software & Soft Benefits
The ideal solution for a client may incorporate a number of different technologies however, with this in mind, TracLogik’s cloud-based software hides this complexity behind a concise intuitive user interface. Users are presented with a list of assets and a list of locations. The software is then tailored to enable users to answer the questions that are important such as: Which assets are present at which location? Which assets were scheduled to arrive at a location but have not? How many assets are going to be present in this location at 2pm?
The result is that the packaging asset tracking system, which was installed on the basis of a business case that predicted a payback period based around the reduction in the loss of assets is now also a go-to business tool for transport managers planning their next deliveries showing available capacity, throughput and being a source of asset-optimisation and rotation time reduction.