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4 Ways Returnable Container Tracking Boosts Your Bottom Line

In the new year, businesses continue to explore innovative supply chain solutions. With this in mind, returnable container tracking must be part of these efforts.
In returnable asset tracking they may find new opportunities. These may include cost savings, operational efficiencies, and even environmental benefits.
Though critical to the supply chain, returnables have a history of waste and inefficiency. Returnable assets often aren’t returned by customers and supply chain partners. They are many times overlooked, forgotten, or stolen in warehouses and distribution centers. In response, many businesses choose to keep a backup supply of containers in inventory. This requires additional storage space and increased costs. 
Today supply chain managers seek to manage returnables through digital tracking methods. New digital solutions help supply chain partners regain control of their assets.
What is Container Tracking?
Container Tracking monitors the use and location of returnables in a manufacturing setting. In the past, it was common to track containers using spreadsheets or other paper-based methods. But, modern automated systems built around barcode or RFID are much more efficient.
What is a Container Tracking System?
For manufacturers, a container tracking system helps keep track of their returnable containers. Often referred to as returnable transport items (RTI), these items include pallets, totes and racks. These systems monitor current stock levels, condition and location of returnables. As a result, businesses can prevent loss, damage and production downtime.
Automated container tracking systems use Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) methods. For example, barcoding or RFID are effective solutions. This type of software ensures efficient monitoring as containers move through the supply chain.
rti returnable containers barcode tracking
How Does Container Tracking Work?
Barcodes or RFID tags attached to returnable containers allow real-time tracking. A container moves along an assembly line, between facilities or even among trading partners. During this process, simple scans of a barcode collect data. Also, an RFID portal can gather container data.
An advanced container tracking system can import this data to an ERP or back-end software. As a result, this creates a single system of record. In turn, you can view and analyze data from a convenient dashboard interface.
Four Ways Returnable Container Tracking Boosts Your Bottom Line
Returnable assets are becoming costlier and more resilient. This adds risk to poorly managed supply chains.
Industry-leading digital tools mitigate these risks. They do this by making returnable asset tracking easier and more economical.
Consider the following four ways returnable asset tracking technology adds business value.
1. Increase Supply Chain Visibility
Supply chain visibility means more than tracking products alone. Digital tracking tools allow you to locate returnable assets. Plus, you can see how long they’ve been there, how they’re used, condition and more.
Adding visibility to this side of the supply chain reduces waste, prevents theft and damage. Also, it gives you information about how customers and partners treat your assets.
2. Improve Customer and Partner Relationships
You count on your customers to return assets. In turn, they enjoy insights into how well their teams manage those assets.
According to Forrester, “Track and trace is about more than supply chain efficiency. A fully functional solution targets customer pain points, exceeds expectations to cement loyalty, and generates fresh value.” Returnable asset tracking gives you opportunities to improve business relationships.
3. Automate More
Automating strategic components of your supply chain is central to digital transformation. Also, it’s critical to building out the business efficiencies of the future.
Don’t overlook returnable assets as you invest in automated solutions. Wherever it’s appropriate, add automatic alerts and reporting to your returnable asset strategy. You will be a step closer to a more digital future.
4. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Your company may have to release a statement about its environmental impact. If not now, then someday soon.
Your returnable asset management strategy will either help or hurt your company in this area. This is critical, as these findings could affect taxes and regulations. They could even impact customer relationships.
When you can count on your tracking data, you know you’re getting the best value from your investments. That includes reducing waste and unnecessary re-purchasing of returnable assets. An investment today means fewer business problems down the line.
managing rti container cost
Don’t Overlook This Critical Element of the Supply Chain
There are some ongoing processes that drive tangible cost savings. These include reducing waste, increasing efficiencies, and improving customer relationships.

Controlling RTI Costs May Be Easier Than You Think

Why is returnable container management important? Shrinkage from returnable transport items increases costs if not given proper attention.

stack of pallets returnable container management

What is a Returnable Container?

Manufacturers use returnable containers to move finished goods or materials used in production. Also called returnable transport items (RTI) these can include pallets, crates or racks.

The fact they’re reused makes them a valuable asset. Every time a returnable transport item returns, their value increases. So, losing one impacts the company in replacement costs.

Also, lack of a container tracking system increases labor costs. First, it requires a manual tracking process, which wastes time. Plus, you’ll pay to have a backup supply on hand to compensate for missing or late containers.

Thus, a system to track the return of RTIs produces significant cost-savings. Once a tracking system is in place, a decrease in shrinkage is within reach. If these RTIs are not currently listed in a tracking system, why not?

How to Track Returnable Containers

It may seem complicated to develop a system for returnable container management. But, technology can make the job easier.

Treating your returnable transport items as assets can help with shrinkage control. An RFID system is one possible solution to container tracking.

An RFID tag consists of a tiny chip and antenna called an integrated circuit. This tag may also be part of a label attached to or inserted in containers such as bins & pallets.

But hardware is just part of the solution. RFID software, or middleware, processes and stores the information collected from the tag.

Container tracking using RFID collects real-time data including location, status, condition and cost. Regular reporting can reveal any loss that’s not accounted for.

Backed by data, companies can address the reasons for the shrinkage. For example, damage, loss or theft.

Discovering the cause becomes a much easier task, saving labor and inventory costs. Plus, it aids in preventing future losses by highlighting areas for improvement.

Adding visibility to returnable containers can reduce costs and prevent production delays. Real-time technology solutions are the key to optimizing the supply chain. The question is, can you afford not to?


Returnable asset tracking tools give you a leg up on your competitors as you enhance these KPIs. Contact us to learn more about how Radley’s bar code software and RFID technology can close the gap in your tracking processes.
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