One of the biggest challenges direct store delivery (DSD) operations face is the proper management of reusable containers. This challenge is especially evident in the bakery industry, where reusable plastic trays are often used in the transportation, delivery, storage, and display of baked goods. These plastic trays can often be lost or stolen during the delivery cycle, creating a significant asset management problem for bakeries. In addition to having trouble tracking the trays, bakeries must deal with the expenses associated with replacing lost trays.
Whether bakeries are utilizing plastic trays or some other reusable container, the use of outdated or inefficient asset tracking technology is an unnecessary burden. Bakeries that are unable to properly track their assets are susceptible to extra expenses and other financial problems. Having to constantly purchase new trays or containers digs into profit margins and not knowing where assets are will lead to a decrease in productivity.
The best way to gain complete control over assets is to employ an RFID tracking solution. RFID tags can be embedded into reusable trays or other assets, making it easier than ever to track their locations. The embedded RFID tags can also automatically trigger replenishment orders for specific locations that are running low. The RFID system must also be implemented in the manufacturing facility and delivery trucks in order to ensure that the trays/containers can be tracked throughout the delivery process.
Of course, installing an RFID tracking system is not a one step process. The bakery must be thoroughly analyzed before the system is designed and the RFID tracking system must be tested extensively to ensure that each aspect is working perfectly.
With RFID tracking systems in place, bakeries should have no problems tracking reusable assets. Drivers are given mobile computers with attached RFID readers, enabling them to read the tags during the delivery and pick-up processes. Once the assets are returned, they are cleaned and then scanned again to ensure that the RFID tags are still in working order. Any assets that have faulty tags can be taken out of production to be retagged.
Once products are loaded into the trays/containers, the RFID chips can be programmed to reflect the necessary product information. The assets are scanned again at the loading dock and upon entering the trucks. If any container is put into the wrong truck, an alarm will sound and corrections can be made; this ensures that every delivery is accurate.
When properly implemented, an RFID tracking system can make sure trays, containers, goods, and more can be accounted for – throughout the entire cycle.
An RFID tracking system should be put into action in stages, and staff will likely have to review operational processes to improve workflow, but the benefits it can provide outweigh these temporary inconveniences. Bakeries with tracking systems in place can accurately track route deliveries, reduce or eliminate the loss of reusable assets, and even automatically generate replenishment orders.
Visibility is one of, if not the most, important aspects of the supply chain. RFID is invaluable because it allows bakeries to see what’s going on at every stage of the delivery process.