Automotive Supplier Automate Tracking of Returnable Transport Items (RTIs) such as Racks and Metal Box to ensure accurate recordkeeping, decrease errors, and prevent loss with RAIN RFID.

The Customer

Our Client is an Automotive supplier, specialized on Glass Production, with around 27,000 permanent employees, has principal operations around the world and sales in over 100 countries. 

The automotive business has presence in 14 countries and has 15,000 employees. 

The Challenge

Over the course of our Client’s project investigation into his returnable container tracking process, we have consistently found that most of the problems in today’s business processes relate to a lack of visibility – the inability to see what is happening across an entire returnable supply chain in near real time. It often became apparent very early that the OEM and the Client struggle with locating returnable containers and isolating issues when these containers are missing in the field.

The Client has a complex manufacturing process with more than 20 thousand Returnable Containers and near 30 OEM’s clients in the logistic process, posing significant operational, financial, and customer service implications for missing or inadequate shipping and receiving of these assets to OEM.

The Client was looking for a special RFID tag that significantly eliminates errors under the new automated RFID system for RTIs packing preparation and shipment control.

The Smartx Solution

Gain accurate information and eliminate manual errors with Rain RFID

In the manufacturer’s supply chain(OEM), returnable containers are shipped from an empties warehouse to the Client, where they are filled with automotive parts that are then shipped to the manufacturer’s assembly line. Once the parts in a container have been consumed, empties are shipped on mixed RTIs to the Client warehouse (often operated by a third-party logistics company) where they are sorted, treated, and refurbished. They are then reloaded on full and are ready to ship out again to the OEM. In this system, there are several nodes where containers check in and out.

The SmartX HUB combines RFID technology with a robust cloud software platform that provides up-to-date, accurate inventory and supply chain information to help our Client with minimal time and labor.

The SmartX HUB processes for an RFID-enabled container management solution are fairly simple and straightforward. The Client places tags on all containers and metal boxes. Reading the combination of container and insert tags allows the Client to determine which returnable container type is on hand. RFID readers are placed at the inbound and outbound streets of the Client facilities.  Client knows to which OEM the returnable containers are going and how many.

Once the truck is loaded, all transaction-relevant information is passed from the RFID Handheld to the asset management application, where the information is permanently stored and available for reporting and analysis. Naturally, a reconciliation between a returnable container order in a backend system and the asset management application or in the SmartX HUB RFID middleware can be automated to a point where the warehouse manager receives an instant alert when too many or too few containers are about to be shipped to the OEM.


The Results

SmartX HUB’s RAIN RFID solution prevents costly shipping errors

The visibility that the SmartX HUB system creates allows for shared ownership of returnables, which enables all participants in the automotive supply chain to handle each container to the best of their ability.

Improving audit, inventory and shipping accuracy
The data management of returnable containers in the asset management application allows for the use of standard reports as well as for custom report development. It is possible to show the use of returnable containers per supplier, to report on suppliers that hold excessive returnable inventory and on those that take the most time to ship containers back. Gaining accurate inventory information provides better fiscal control and regulation compliance on capital assets.

Optimization in timing pickups and shipments
By measuring the time between scans, the Client gains further insight into the transportation system, for example, why certain routes might take more time than others. With real-time information and tracking, Client was able to accurately manage and deploy assets.

Real-time visibility for real-time decision making Inbound and outbound items are automatically counted as they pass through dock doors. As assets move in and out of the warehouse, the system is updated in real-time without the need for manual scanning.

Reduce loss and lower costs
Ultimately, detailed knowledge of how returnable containers move through the SmartX HUB system allows a reliable assessment of how many returnable containers are needed and helps reduce inventory as well as avoid excessive spending for the next