Tracking Bulk Containers: Can It Be Done?
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When we at Wave Reaction refer to “bulk containers,” we’re referring to durable shipping containers that haven’t been assigned unique identification numbers or markings. To track bulk container, we alternatively need to track multiple containers with a single label ID or an SKU ID. This can be accomplished by scanning a single label to represent a truckload of containers, or by scanning each container, all of which share a single identifying number.

When using a bulk label, determining which individual containers were sent isn’t possible, and even the amount on the label cannot be easily verified. While the shipping information is generated and recorded – the number of containers that were sent, and the receiving party – it must be presumed that the information is accurate. Bulk container tracking systems are most often used when there is a strong trust relationship between the shipping and receiving parties, and their shipping processes don’t allow for the serialized transactions necessary for more granular containing tracking data.

PROS

Bulk container tracking does have its benefits, of course. Bulk tracking systems are easier to implement, as each reusable container being tracked does not require its own unique tag, saving the time and expenses needed to undertake such an effort. Depending on how many reusables your enterprise works with, the savings can be significant.

CONS

Without tracking each reusable container individually, several valuable metrics cannot be measured. A container’s cumulative dwell (how long a reusable container has remained at a location) for example, or its cycle time (how long it takes containers to pass through a complete cycle) cannot be captured accurately. There is no chain of custody. And since transactions cannot be individually identified or verified, using bulk tracking may cause friction between the billing party and the end user.

As enterprises realize that the most successful environmental programs are those that make economic sense, reusable container tracking is becoming more and more common. Whether by bulk container tracking, or serialized tracking, every effort made toward management of your reusable containers can yield returns on investment.

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