Every company relies on logistics, and the focal point of logistics is the warehouse. Shipments are always stacked on pallets for easy loading and unloading. There are over 2 billion in use in the US alone, the single largest end-use for hardwood lumber. The key to efficient tracking for both warehouse operation and economical pallet use is fast becoming pallet tracking systems. These are usually in the form of RFID chips attached to the pallet and read by scanners. Pallet tracking has several distinct benefits.
Work in progress
Businesses that depend on large warehouse operations, such as major retailer chains, may have thousands of pallets in use at any one time. By supplying scanners to employees and at regular locations, pallets can be tracked at all times. Each RFID has a unique code that can be linked to employee badges and integrated with warehouse software to let supervisors know who is using which pallet for which order, and when the pallets are staged and ready for shipping. When integrated with web-based programs, both suppliers and customers can know when orders have been received and when they are shipped.
Security and transparency
Pallet theft has been on the rise and not just wooden pallets, but molded plastic and even foam pallets have their uses and appeal for thieves. Scanners at the loading dock and other entrances can detect when each pallet leaves the building and when it’s returned. Maintaining inventory on pallets themselves can save companies thousands of dollars per year. While pallets are generally cheap compared to the value of the merchandise, pallets are available with more advanced systems monitored on a wide scale. When a truckload of merchandise is stolen, even one pallet with a transponder chip can help police locate the thieves.
With pallet tracking and automated database systems, computers can record every stage in the life of a pallet. Scanners record when and where the new pallet was received, when it was loaded and put into inventory, when the pallet was shipped, when it arrived at which customer, when it was sent back, and when it was received. Big companies like Walmart and Kraft Foods who use pallet tracking systems can use this collected data for analysis of shipping operations to determine turnaround times, shipping damages, locations of delay, and more. Of course, this requires that clients also have scanning systems integrated with the companies online reporting systems.
Pallet tracking systems can thus help to preserve inventory and improve general efficiently, both important factors in cost savings and boosting profits. This is certainly a great technical advantage over the time when most pallets were simply tossed out as junk.