Returnable asset used for shipping.

The Value of Returnable Assets

In the context of supply chain management and logistics, returnable assets are any reusable containers that move along a supply chain. One can think of them as the physical backbone of a company’s movement of goods. As their name implies, these shipping assets return to their point of origin. Unfortunately, many returnable assets don’t get returned — costing businesses valuable resources and money. Returnable assets (and the ability to track them) are important for businesses looking to reduce shrinkage.  

What Are Returnable Assets?

Returnable assets can include pallets, racks, crates, kegs, totes or other intermodal containers such as shipping containers. These items can also be referred to as reusable assets or returnable transport items (RTIs). Once returnable assets are returned to their point of origin, they are put back into use, reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. 

The industries where returnable assets are most commonly found are manufacturing, automotive, food and beverage production, and retail distribution. Returnable containers are sturdy, convenient, and cost-effective. They’re also an excellent way to provide security during transportation by making them difficult to tamper with or damage. 

Recently, plastic pallets have become more widely used in the global supply chain to cut down on the environmental impact of wood pallets. Plastic pallets, however, cost anywhere between $25 and $100 per unit, depending on quality. 

Returnable Asset Tracking

Say that your business has invested in returnable assets. What’s the best way to track them to know valuable data, such as asset location, inefficiencies, and bottlenecks? The best way is to implement a returnable asset tracking system as part of your business’s asset management strategy. 

If your business is small, perhaps old-fashioned pen-and-paper or barcodes may work. But to truly unlock the power of asset management and traceability, many companies are turning to RFID technology

RFID Technology

RFID technology has been around since World War II and has been part of business processes since the 1970s. An RFID system consists of an RFID tag, an RFID reader, and an antenna. RFID tags attach to objects, which are then read by an RFID reader. The reader transmits a signal which is received by the tag’s antenna, which then sends a signal back to the reader, all in real-time. Each tag contains unique information about the object it is attached to. In this case, the returnable asset must make its way back to its point of origin. 

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RFID tracking doesn’t just allow businesses to track their reusable assets; it allows them to audit their entire shipping process, both inside their own facilities and outside. Tracking enables businesses to avoid unnecessary downtime by knowing where their reusable assets are and when they can expect them to return. 

The Best Way To Track Your Returnable Assets

Returnable assets are an important part of making sure businesses stay environmentally friendly and cost-effective. By reusing these items instead of simply discarding them after one use, businesses can avoid waste throughout the entire course of the supply chain. If a company doesn’t properly manage its RTIs, it can quickly find itself in trouble and unable to meet customer demand. 

For the most efficient tracking available, your business can find a supply chain solutions partner with Real Time Intelligence. We have the technology to help your business track its returnable assets across facilities, states, or the globe. Contact us today to find out about the solutions we provide!

Take a deeper look at how RFID technology has evolved and what it's currently capable of!