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Packaging Company Tags Its Shipping Containers

Faerch Plast is using an EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID system from Prosign to keep a better eye on the reusable steel cages it utilizes to deliver its products to customers.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 11, 2012Færch Plast manufactures plastic trays that its customers can use to package food products, such as meat, cold food, snacks and premade meals sold at supermarkets. The company produces two billion such trays annually at three locations—at its headquarters in Holstebro, Denmark; at a facility in Liberec, in the Czech Republic; and, most recently, at a factory in Durham, England. The Danish and Czech sites pack the trays within reusable steel shipping containers, rather than in cardboard boxes or on wooden pallets, because metal can be cleaned and disinfected. Cardboard or wood, on the other hand, might absorb and transport bacteria, and thus cannot be used at meatpacking facilities or other food-processing locations. The U.K. facility ships its trays on pallets, instead of in the metal boxes.

One of Færch Plast's empty shipping containers, with a Confidex Captura tag clipped to a bar near the cage's lower right corner

When the Danish packaging supply company ships its products to customers from the Danish and Czech facilities, the steel containers (also known as cages) leave the firm's view until they are returned to its warehouse, where they are then cleaned. With tens of thousands of these steel boxes in transit, or at thousands of customer sites around the world, tracking the containers and ensuring their return can be a daunting endeavor. The company aims to make the tracking of these boxes easier, by employing a radio frequency identification system provided by Prosign RFID. Færch Plast installed the solution in October 2011, tagging 25,000 of its boxes, and is currently in the process of expanding its deployment to tens of thousands more.

In the event that the quantity of empty clean cages runs low, Færch Plast must transport empty boxes back to its facilities, and then clean them. The company's staff must often call customers to ask if they have any shipping containers on their premises, says Uffe Katborg Bjerre, Færch Plast's senior supply chain manager; if they do, the workers must then request that they be returned.

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