The results of our reusable packaging loss and theft survey indicate a nagging problem, one that has generally become worse in recent years. Several challenges are identified, however, management tacts taken to correct the issue seem very limited. Perhaps the most revealing information is in the small number of respondents (13), which may or may not speak to a lack of engagement around this issue.
Let’s take a look at the responses and offer some commentary.
1. Is reusable packaging and pallet loss a concern for your company?
Respondents indicated in unanimity that loss is a concern, with the degree of concern being the only differentiator. This issue is a serious concern for 39 percent, and somewhat of a concern for 61 percent. For respondents who took the time to answer this survey, loss is a concern.
2. Is your reusable container and pallet loss issue getting worse?
The good news is that 8 percent say their situation is improving, versus 23 percent who indicate it is still about the same, and 61 percent who feel the situation has gotten worse. The trend is one we might expect, given increased plastic theft activity in recent years, increased staff turnover, ongoing supply chain reorganization, 3rd party logistics roulette and so on.
3. Do you feel that reusable container and pallet loss gets the attention it deserves in your company?
About 76 percent of respondents report that reusable packaging does not get the attention it deserves, while about 24 percent believe it does.
4. What are the key barriers to reducing pallet and container loss? (Multiple responses)
The categories are truncated above at left, but the key thing to observe, versus the responses to Question 5, is that there are noticeably more barriers than management approaches being taken (as shown in Question 5 results) to mitigate losses. The largest barriers include the lack of employee accountability (85 percent) and lack of management focus (69 percent).
- Too many competing priorities 46 percent
- Lack of management interest 69 percent
- Lack of investment in employee training 54 percent
- Lack of employee accountability 85 percent
- Lack of cooperation from 3rd party logistics providers 38 percent
- Lack of investment in asset tracking and management technologies 54 percent
- Lack of support from trading partmers 62 percent
- Inability of law enforcement to curb theft of reusables 23 percent
- Lack of organized industry response 46 percent
5. What approaches does your company currently take to minimize loss? (Multiple responses)
Top 5 Steps Being Taken to Control Loss
- Branding or marking company name on pallets or containers 77 percent
- Scheduled inventory of reusable assets 46 percent
- Inclusion of telephone number or contact information on pallets and containers 31 percent
- Training of personnel 31 percent
- Designation of champion or responsible manager 31 percent
Interestingly, only 15 percent of respondents take no steps to guard their reusables against loss. However, very few tacts are being taken overall to curb losses across the entire sample group, suggesting that very few have comprehensive programs to manage their reusables. Only 31 percent have a designated champion, and only 31 percent train personnel. Only a collective 15 percent track their reusables through dedicated software, enterprise software module, or spreadsheet.
My key thought from the above, given the limited sample size, is that we have a problem that more often than not is being undermanaged. We can see loss issues that have generally gotten worse in the face of significant barriers, while the measures being taken are not robust enough to effectively address those barriers in creating effective control and thereby eliminating asset loss. The good news for companies wishing to control loss and theft of reusables is that through taking a number of steps such as ones listed in Question 5, they will enjoy better success. For specific advice, please contact me. More on this to follow.