Euro Pool System (EPS) – market leader in reusable crates in the European food distribution chain – pools RTIs (Returnable Transport Items) for the fruit and vegetable auctions in Belgium and other EU countries. Upon return to EPA, the thin folding crates are not sorted by customers according to size and delivered on the pallets, which made the stock counting and inventory of the different types that enter their depots more difficult.
EPS was therefore looking for a solution to automate these logistics processes and moreover needed a standard software platform to roll out in several European depots. Aucxis implemented an RFID total package with hardware, middleware and standard software that can be used in all depots.
When the dirty crates arrive at the depots, they go through an automatic scanning tunnel with vision recognition that reads how many crates of which type are on the pallets. An RFID label with all the necessary information about the crates is then automatically applied to the pallets. This process involves around 500,000 RFID pallet labels per year.
The pallets with unwashed crates are then driven away to the storage halls, where two mobile RFID scanners – Scan Buddy’s – drive around to correctly map the stock. The Scan Buddies work on the basis of mobile UHF technology and must visit a minimum number of predefined detection points per driving route before the inventory is printed.
The moment an auction places an on-demand order, the desired number of pallets with dirty crates is driven to the crate wash. After washing, the RFID label of the pallet is scanned again by the RFID reader with antennas so that EPS knows how many crates of which types are ready for delivery. This stock is also automatically written off and communicated with the ERP system.
In addition to the issuance of washed crates to the auctions, the logistical and electronic movements of both dirty and washed crates between the European depots are recorded.
Sustainable return logistics thanks to the decrease in the number of transports
A lot more dirty folding crates are now arriving per transport than in the past: each pallet now carries 240 folding crates, compared to 36 of the old, non-folding crates. Although the folding crates of different sizes are on one pallet in the storage halls, the stock is correctly identified and measured thanks to the Scan Buddies.
Error-free inventory and localization
Thanks to the various scanning moments throughout the logistics flow, EPS knows at all times how many dirty crates are in stock and where they are located, without manual intervention by the logistics employees. The number of crates washed and their lead time is also always known.
More efficient picking the pallets in the storage hall to take them to the car wash or truck. Thanks to the RFID area localization, the pickers find the desired crates faster.
A smooth exchange between the European EPS depots
One central database with the information of all pallets, regardless of their location, and an inventory count per location.
This is achieved thanks to the automated control of processes and decreasing processing costs.
“Thanks to the Aucxis RFID system Aucxis we always check stock and area-location of different collapsible crates, even if they are not sorted transported by type,” says Thierry Verschooten, Logistics Depot Coordinator at Euro Pool System. ” The flow of the pallets are monitored from inbound to outbound to the auctions or to other depots.”