Gain a finite understanding of current, available, and useable returnable containers in the fleet and within each loop

Returnable Container Management

Millions of returnable transport items (RTIs) such as containers, bins, pallets, racks, and kegs move through the global supply chain, providing the most fundamental way parts, materials, and finished goods reach their destination.

Standardized, reusable containers have become increasingly popular among manufacturers and their trading partners to transport goods and drive efficiency throughout a supply chain. Returnable containers, which come in various shapes and sizes, are provided to supply chain partners to simplify the transportation of parts and materials from a supplier to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and between OEM plants.

Because these containers are durable and reusable and require little to no maintenance, they offer many benefits to manufacturers and suppliers, including reducing waste and cost, increasing efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness, and fulfilling "green" initiatives by reducing waste. However, the issues associated with managing these containers pose many challenges for manufacturers.

These containers exist within large, multi-supplier supply chains. Lack of disciplined process and poor visibility into the location and movement of these containers can create significant levels of container surplus and waste. Up to 30% of containers in manufacturers' supply chains are in excess, underscoring the need to streamline these processes and gain visibility into the movement of containers.


Suppliers struggle with reducing surplus stock, locating damaged or lost containers, and identifying solutions that resolve these issues.

These challenges exist because of the highly complex trading environments in which millions of containers are handled at high speeds without automated business processes: manual methods lead to tracking errors and mishandling. It is estimated that 5-15% of container inventory may be lost annually without effective tracking.

Visibility and traceability solutions provide a mechanism to share information about container movement. These solutions offer advanced analytics and reporting capabilities, providing insight and driving business decisions.

Traceability technology allows manufacturers and suppliers to share RFID- or barcode-generated information about a container’s state and movement. The analytics and reporting capabilities associated with these solutions help alleviate pain points for manufacturers and enable highly efficient business processes that ultimately lead to reduced ownership costs for returnable containers in the supply chain.

Improper container management leads to serious inefficiencies for the manufacturer, some of which can be addressed through container traceability:

Solution - SmartX HUB Container Tracking

Data from visibility technologies such as RFID or barcodes, when combined with new traceability and data analytics offered by SmartX HUB, can alleviate the pain points for manufacturers, enabling highly efficient business processes and reduced container ownership costs.
This visibility of and insight into new data also creates shared ownership of returnable containers that simplifies their management and transport and provides the foundation of a precious returnable container management solution.

Our Returnables Asset Management solution leverages analytics, geo-fencing, and IoT-RFID to accurately identify and monitor an asset’s location and movement within an industrial facility.
Assets are tagged with cost-effective beacons to provide a foolproof strategy to avoid shrinkage. When an asset crosses a geo-fenced border, an alert is issued identifying the asset as well as the precise location of the area.  Asset utilization data can be integrated to provide detailed insights into maintenance history.

The following video illustrates this shared, visible accountability of returnable containers.

SmartX HUB includes packaged reports

Real-world customer implementations of auto-ID-enabled RTI tracking solutions have demonstrated ROI in less than 12 months. More importantly, these solutions easily integrate into existing business processes to help provide a more seamless implementation and even more value. As early as the first complete turn, companies can leverage data to make smarter decisions, better manage supply chain partners, create process efficiencies and gain more control over the total supply chain costs.

Supply chain information has become increasingly generated by sensors, RFID/ Beacon tags, meters, actuators, GPS, and other devices and systems. In terms of visibility, supply chains are not only able to "see" more events, but they witness them as they occur. They are coming to rely less on labor-based tracking and monitoring, as objects like shipping containers, trucks, products, and parts report on themselves. Dashboards on devices display the real-time status of plans, commitments, supply sources, pipeline inventories, and consumer requirements.

SmartX HUB includes packaged reports that allow organizations to manage their returnable asset inventory and utilization more effectively. The SmartX HUB container tracking application includes several reports based on information that is, by default, refreshed hourly in the solution. 

Current Asset Inventory

This report shows the current asset inventory at each facility in the value chain. Use this report to assess inventory and expedite your shipping or substitution needs.

Current Asset List

This report lists the assets by type that are at a location. Use this report to understand which assets are at a particular location and determine what might be lost or missing.

Asset History

This report lists the event history of an asset. Use this report to determine when and where an asset was last observed or identify problems such as missing events, duplicate events, or cross events.

Asset Cycle Time History

This report shows how efficiently the assets cycle through storage locations. Use this report to compare the actual versus targeted cycle time performance for the specified storage locations.

Business Partner Cycle Time History

This report shows how efficiently each business partner (BP) and each business partner location turns assets. Use this report to compare actual versus targeted cycle time performance for the business partner facility.

Dwell Time History

This report shows the speed at which returnable assets move through a facility. Use this report to determine how efficiently assets are utilized throughout a supply chain.

Inventory History

This report shows the asset inventory at each business and location over time. Use this report to see how efficiently and effectively business owners and partners manage returnable asset inventories.


Traceability technology provides insight into container distribution, status, and supplier performance. SmartX HUB container tracking is part of SmartX’s Solution for Track & Trace and also leverages IoT-RFID and Cloud platforms for data capture. Smartx hub’s Solution for Track & Trace advances its past success in traceability technology by enabling multiple business use cases through applications and business intelligence.

Built on the SmartX HUB Platform, the Returnable Container Management application enables companies to manage their supply chains using new data, offering scorecards, dashboards, and reports to set expectations and identify cycle and turnaround times and inadequate performance by trading partners and suppliers.

SmartX HUB Cloud Platform integrates with customer master data systems to provide additional business context with the product, location, and supplier information.
By reducing turnaround time, loss, and expendable packaging and increasing the accuracy of cost allocation, a container management system can potentially produce a positive ROI in less than one year.

SmartX HUB’s global presence, coupled with its deep industry and business transformation expertise, has proven that the methodologies and experience gained from thousands of worldwide engagements help clients achieve accurate business results and innovation quickly and cost-effectively.


How can we help you?

Contact us at the SmartX office nearest to you or submit a business inquiry online.

Let us know how we can help you solve your business challenges!

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