3 Advantages of Intelligent Returnable Transport Items (iRTIs) for the Global Supply Chain

Photo Credit: Bill Butcher/USFWS
When goods are delivered for large packages what is the first thing that comes to mind? If you thought of a big cardboard box, then you’re among the majority of the population. This quintessential cardboard box has been a staple tool in the logistics industry for transporting all sorts of products. But times have changed. The future of logistics is trending towards more sustainable practices as well as for more creative ways to have efficient throughput in the supply chain cycle.

Enter the world of Intelligent Returnable (or Reusable) Transport Items or iRTIs. The concept comes from combining RFID technology to regular RTIs (Returnable Transport Items). RTIs are important to the development of not just sustainable business practices, but also for the practicality and potential profitability that it can offer. The RFID tags collect and capture information about the containers they’re tagged onto as well as its contents. This gives a whole new set of accessible, actionable date for supply chain managers.

This week we’re going to talk about our top three advantages of having an iRTI system for the global supply chain.

Improved Sanitation and Cargo Control

iRTIs are a great benefit primarily in the food and pharmaceutical industries, the main benefit of which is the fact that these container provide not only a more hygienic solution due to the nature of having durable, fully enclosed containers, but also for the fact that it lends itself to special considerations such as temperature control. This greatly benefits perishable supply chain challenges iRTIs have are able to track the conditions of goods within containers.

Other methods can provide holes along the monitoring of the supply chain and this lack of visibility and actionable data for perishable goods such as pharmaceuticals and food can lead to product loss, recalls, and legal woes. iRTIs can greatly reduce, and in certain cases, eliminate these issues leading to a system set up with avoidable product loss.

Less Wasteful and a More Sustainable Solution

Reusable packaging is not a new concept, and it has been shown in the past to be tantamount to solid waste reduction strategies. Because containers are durable and reusable, iRTIs reduce the carbon footprint and waste that non-RTI packages create primarily by reducing their solid waste output. But iRTIs take it one step further; Rick LeBlanc from RFID Arena provides some great concrete statistics on its sustainability advantages:

“One third party study, reviewing the use of RPCs [Reusable Plastic Containers] versus corrugated display ready packaging for 10 fresh produce commodities, concluded that RPCs required 39 percent less total energy, created 95 percent less solid waste, and generated 29 percent less total greenhouse gas emissions than corrugated display ready containers.”

Profitability and a Closed-Loop System

Reusable containers have already been an attractive consideration in the supply chain because they can greatly reduce the cost-per-trip of transport packaging by virtue of the fact that the containers are re-usable, meaning that costs are predicted based on the durability of the containers themselves as opposed to non-RTI containers which would just be disposed of after delivery. iRTIs take this cost-saving one step further due to the abovementioned features of greatly reducing instances of product loss, liability exposure, recalls from ineffective products, etc.

Thus, it seems that RFID technology is slowly making itself more and more relevant to the logistics and supply chain industry. The addition of RFID to a global supply chain can create ‘smart crates’ that not only really cater to food and pharmaceuticals, but may be a viable option in general for both its cost-cutting and sustainability benefits.

Well that’s it for this week. Tune in next week for out next blog post! If you want to know what we do as a third party logistics provider (3PL) check out our core services. If you haven’t already check us out on Twitter (@MoraiLogistics), give us a follow or a @mention, we’re looking forward to engaging with you. Otherwise, stay tuned for next week’s post on our monthly Logistics Glossary Week series!

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