Assets designed to be used for multiple trips are referred to in most industries as “reusables.” From durable plastic pallets and crates, to collapsible bespoke racks, to larger shipping containers, the purpose of these “reusables” is to reduce a company’s packaging costs and solid waste stream. As an added benefit, their considerable durability as compared to corrugated or other expendable packaging provides an additional level of product protection.

While some of the benefits of reusable container use are inherent, many more can be achieved through reusable container management. In addition to reducing the long-term cost of packaging by eliminating the recurring cost to purchase disposable packaging, packaging is standardized, and further efficiencies can be achieved by monitoring and optimizing shipment processing and handling. The deployment of tracking technologies can automate and enhance data collection, adding an additional layer of ease and efficiency to an RCM solution.

Managing a container inventory effectively depends on the quality of the data collected, the resources devoted to capture, and the priorities at each capture location.  An optimal reusable container management system ensures that record management and asset tracking are intuitive, can predict and avoid volume fluctuations by monitoring demand, reduce the likelihood of containers being shipped to the wrong location, and eliminate the need for “safety stock” to avoid shortages.

Proper reusable container management can help improve or eliminate:
  • shrinkage due to damage
  • poorly-calculated transit times leading to late or early deliveries
  • the need for “safety stock,” or banking excess containers
  • container shortages due to an increase in demand or a failure to order replacements

Failure to anticipate these issues can lead to increased and costs outside your budget, such as rush orders and expedited deliveries, late shipments, and even the loss of production lines. These costs can also include additional packaging costs such as repacking fees, as well as necessitating the use of alternate packaging, such as cardboard, as a stopgap measure.

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