IBM has released a new version of its InfoSphere Traceability Server, which includes Returnable Container Management functionality to enable customers to track the whereabouts of their containers using RFID tags.
The new offering has been designed to cut the costs and shipping delays associated with lost or misplaced returnable containers, said IBM. The containers are shipped by manufacturers to suppliers, who fill them and send them back.
The system is already used to track valuable items such as pharmaceuticals and medical implants, but was modified following work the vendor undertook with major car manufacturers to help them manage their automobile parts supply chain. It also includes analytics functionality from IBM’s Cognos acquisition.
IBM said that customers wanting to use the Returnable Container Management module need to affix sensors, which include RFID tags, to their reusable containers. Both standing and mobile devices are then employed to read the tags and capture data such as place, time of manufacture and serial number.
An online system subsequently enables manufacturers and supply chain partners to determine where the container is at any given point in time, and will alert them if it is sent to the wrong location.
IBM claimed that users can expect to improve container turnaround time by as much as 20 per cent, while container loss is likely to fall by between five and 15 per cent. Container inventory, which in the case of many automotive OEMs is in excess of $100 million (£59m), should drop by about 10 per cent.
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