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Finland Post Finds RFID Can Deliver ROI
After completing a two-month RFID trial, the national mail carrier believes there is a clear business case for using tags to track reusable assets such as roll cages and crates.
The trial software application recorded the location of each tagged cage, enabling Finland Post to see—via a Web portal—how its cages were being used. The circulation of roll cages could be viewed by events (such as "dropped-off" or "collected") per customer or route, by cages delivered and returned per customer for a specific day, or by the number of cages requested by a customer for each day, week, route or customer.
By tagging and tracking its cages, Finland Post found that some customers were holding onto roll cages for longer than two weeks, and that some were using the cages for their own distribution uses. "It was surprising," says Salomaa. "Our roll cages came back from customers other than the customers with whom the cages were left. So we found out customers were using our roll cages for their own uses."
Tracking with tags not only made customers more inclined to return cages, but also gave Finland Post staff an incentive to collect them. "Everyone does his job as easy as possible," Salomaa explains. "If not followed, our postmen are not so keen to collect extra roll cages. Now that we are tracking them, they have to do these things. However, the key focus of the trial was on activities outside of Finland Post's direct control."
Despite the value of the information, Finland Post says it is not prepared to tag all its roll cages. "The business case for roll cage tagging is quite clear," says Salomaa, "but we know we have no commonly agreed standards yet that everyone is using. We have to get our customers to use the same frequency and the same kind of tag that we use. That way, they can put information they need on the tags, and we can provide information to them."
Therefore, even though Finland Post can justify the expense of deploying RFID based on the ROI resulting from better management of its roll cages, it is more concerned about integrating any RFID deployment with its partners' and customers' own RFID deployments. The carrier is concerned that if it deploys its own system too soon, it may be faced with an expensive process to upgrade or replace its initial system.
"For example, not many readers read both HF and UHF," says Tomi Pienimäki, CTO at Finland Post. "If we buy 700 UHF readers, and a year later there are readers capable of both, we might have to buy another 700 readers. That's why we are not expanding the roll cage pilot yet."
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