Euro Pool System (EPS) is the market leader in the are of reusable, standard packaging in the European fresh chain. The company operates in 25 countries. Every year, it rotates 1.019.000.000 crates used for fresh and packaged foodstuffs.
EPS, together with the Belgian retailer, Delhaize, built the ‘depot of the future’. Not only was a new 30.000 m² building constructed; EPS and Delhaize also wanted to improve the flow of their logistical processes.
Delhaize stores return RTI's (empty and used plastic trays, paletts, fish crates, dolly's, etc.) to EPS' depot. Here, they are processed (sorted, registered, counted, washed, repaired, and cross-docked). They are then retaken into use. In the past, this process did not always run very smoothly.
Tailored software for the automatic registration and management of the logistic pool
Belgian automation company, Aucxis, was called in. They were asked to automate the track-and-trace of RTI's in and around the depot. For this, more than two million RTI’s were tagged. Their rotation is fairly high - per day, approximately 3.000 SSCC’s (load carriers) arrive. These are divided over roughly 150 trucks.
Aucxis developed custom software for the automatic registration and management of the logistic processes throughout the entire flow:
- Yard Management: sending data of incoming and exiting trucks via intelligent, real-time YMS
- Inbound Management: transparency to the stores via proof of delivery by means of RFID, Barcode, and Vision technology
- Processing Management: higher efficiency in the stores and the depot, thanks to automated scanning and identification throughout the logistical process
- Outbound Management: deletion of data between partners, based on GS1 standards
- The ‘people steering’ module also plays an essential role. Employees are assigned tasks according to several parameters. These include location and availability. They use a wearable device that registers their activities. These are activities such as unloading trucks, counting load carriers, sorting, and so on.
Finally, Aucxis supplied E-Track. This is a centralized web portal for consulting and managing the various modules across the entire site.
Besides the software, an impressive amount of hardware was also delivered. This is used to optimize the counting and sorting of the RTI’s. It is also used to send them to their correct destination, such as quality control or the washing plant.
This project included the integration of six kiosks, 14 inbound and four outbound registration gates as well as a palletizer. All these were fitted with an RFID-reader - 35 wearable handhelds and five scan stations for quality control. Bringing the total project into a single, flowing whole was a real challenge.
An efficient, precise solution for RTI follow-up throughout the different processes
The project's result was very positive. By implementing the track & trace system, the crates' rotation speed was increased. Investments are also kept to a minimum. The following goals were also achieved:
- Stores no longer need to count and sort trays.
- Quick data deletion (EDI) between all the chain partners via individual tray barcodes and/or RFID tags, unique barcodes per load, and RFID tags op the tractor-trailers.
- Optimum efficiency via intelligent, completely automated employee steering.
- Accurate counting and identification of returned items. This creates 100% transparency at all points of the supply chain.
Aucxis supplied this registration and control solution. It is responsible for the management of logistics pool at Euro Pool System's depot. This applies to the arrival and assignment of the RTI’s to the hybrid portals (RFID, barcode, and vision control). It also applies to the processing, stock and quality control and automatic refilling of Delhaize's DC's.
At the Supply Chain Awards 2018, EPS and Delhaize distinguished themselves in the ‘Project of the Year’ category. This was for their 'Reverse Logistics Distribution Centre of the Future' total project. A great award for a successful solution.
For more information:
40 Zavel Street
9190 Stekene, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0) 379 017 17
Fax: +32 (0) 379 017 18