RFID Becomes an Overnight Sensation for Sernam
The French shipping company finds that a tag-and-reader system significantly improves the efficiency of its overnight deliveries.
Apr 24, 2006—Sernam, a former subsidiary of the SNCF French national railway, was privatized in 2001. Since then, the shipping and logistics company has been working to improve its operations' competitiveness and capabilities. Three years ago, the firm began examining the potential of RFID to help with both of those goals.
For the past year, one of Sernam's customers has been applying RFID tags to all parcels it collects and ships overnight. That has meant tagging more than 300 parcels with RFID labels daily, then tracking them as they pass through Sernam's Paris distribution center.
Sernam's chose overnight delivery because it is a high-value business, subject to price penalties for shipments that don't make the 8:30 a.m. delivery deadline. Adding RFID creates a trail of each tagged parcel's movement through the company's operations, cutting required handling times and resources.
Confident that RFID can increase its operations' efficiency and bring greater value to its customers, Sernam is preparing to expand its RFID rollout to more DCs and more customers. "The pilot has proved successful, and we are in talks with a number of companies that are keen to also use RFID for their shipments," says Gwennaelle Perron, who is responsible for traceability solutions at Sernam.
The RFID system Sernam uses is part of the company's wider investment to provide customers with more information about the whereabouts of their parcels as they move through Sernam's operations. By combining automated RFID reads with the new functionality developed for its existing shipping management application, Sernam can notify customers by e-mail, fax or text message regarding the whereabouts of their shipments. The firm has already found that doing this has helped it achieve significant business. Based on the results of its RFID trial, Sernam calculates that when the RFID system is fully deployed for overnight delivery, it can expect to see RFID reduce customer claims costs by 20 percent, decrease misdirected parcel costs by 30 percent and eliminate approximately 1,000 daily customer inquiry calls.
Sernam specializes in moving parcels weighing 30 kilograms or more, and its overnight delivery service guarantees early next-day delivery. That has required Sernam to operate an efficient service from the start. Even so, RFID has shown the company how to make the service more efficient.
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