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Fresh Food Provider Sees £150,000 Savings With RFID
Reynolds built its own UHF RFID-based system to track its approximately 60,000 reusable crates as they are packed, then shipped to and returned from customers; the company is now examining other ways in which the technology could help track product shipments or forklift transit efficiency at its distribution center.
Aug 03, 2018—
When fresh food distributor Reynolds Catering Supplies transitioned out of using disposable cardboard boxes for delivery to its restaurants, cafés and hospital customers, it introduced a more durable, reusable and higher-value plastic crate, also known as a tote. But that transition created a new challenge for the company, which delivers nearly 1 million crates of food across the United Kingdom each year: namely, managing those totes and ensuring that they are returned.
The company decided to create a solution employing RFID technology, and used its own IT team to create software that can be integrated with its own enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. It acquired fixed RFID readers from Impinj and worked with Avery Dennison to identify the most durable and effective tag for that purpose.
Reynolds is one of the United Kingdom's leading suppliers of fresh produce and dairy products for the food-service and catering industries. The company began investigating RFID after its customers requested a non-disposable container for food deliveries. Cardboard boxes required that restaurants or other meal providers dispose of the containers, which was an added expense for them. Reynolds responded to the request with the plastic tote, which costs less than £5 ($6.66) apiece. Reynolds' drivers deliver products loaded in the totes, then pick up the empty totes on subsequent deliveries of food orders.
"Over time," Calder says, "the scale of the loss emerged, and we found there was a black hole where the crates seemed to end up." The problem isn't isolated to Reynolds, he notes, as many other companies in the food-delivery industry have expressed having the same problem managing reusable containers.
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