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Pallet tracking – More Than Just a Formality

11 Aug 2015

Pallet tracking is an important element within the logistics industry. The process of tracking should not just be limited to between delivery points either. It is equally important at each stage of a pallet’s journey from the warehouse, through the distribution process and to the final destination. After all, if pallets are not tracked through an official system, how is it then possible to identify their whereabouts at a later date?

Being able to track a pallet is not only important for the smooth running of the supply chain process, but it can also help to deter would-be thieves. There have been a number of recorded instances in recent years of widespread theft of pallets in order to sell them on to black-market recyclers. By having a good tracking system in place, stolen pallets can be tracked down to their current location and therefore hopefully recovered

There are a number of different ways of tracking pallets, but one particular method which is increasing in popularity is the RFID tag option. Now in use at a number of different organisations within the logistics industry, RFID tagging ensures that each individual pallet can be tracked throughout every step of the overall supply chain process.

How RFID Tags Work

The initials RFID stand for radio frequency identification. Once mainly used as a way of tracking cattle, RFID tags are now becoming more widespread in a variety of industries. In basic terms, RFID tags contain intelligent barcodes which communicate with a central networked computer system. The entire communication process is done wirelessly, ensuring that the exact whereabouts of an individual pallet can be determined at any given moment in time.

In certain industries, such as the food and drink sectors for example, it is absolutely vital to be able to track a pallet’s location at all stages of the supply chain. RFID tags offer the ideal way of achieving this. For instance, in a warehouse which does not currently employ RFID, if somebody moves a pallet without manually recording the identity of its new location, then confusion can arise. This can sometimes lead to precious time being wasted and, more importantly, a loss of customer confidence. The innovative location function on an RFID system can lead workers straight to the pallet in double-quick time.

Tracking Pallets in Transit

Tracking pallets while they are actually in transit is also possible with RFID. This can be done by either tracking the ID of the transport truck itself or, in the case of higher-value goods, attaching a tag to each pallet and then using the RFID GPS system to monitor its location. These special active tags are quite costly, so need to be recovered once the overall shipping process has been completed.

Compared to other forms of tracking technology, RFID tags have the capacity to drastically improve the working efficiency of the supply-chain management process.

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