Toray Industries, Inc. reports that it has become the first in its industry in Japan to adopt the Smart Pallet®, employing it for shipping resin products around the nation from January this year. Toray is a producer of fibres, textiles, plastic resins, fine chemicals, films and carbon fiber composite materials, medical products, and more. It does business in 26 countries. Smart Pallet is a registered trademark of UPR Corporation, a Japanese provider of leasing services for pallets and logistics equipment.
Smart Pallet incorporates active radio frequency identification tags. Active tags are battery-powered, functioning as beacons by continuously broadcasting their own signals. UPR and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation jointly developed the Smart Pallet, whose active tag can transmit data to a reader up to 300 meters away to identify pallet locations as part of real-time inventory management. The battery life of these tags is around 10 years.
Japan faces chronic labor shortages, particularly of truck drivers. Using forklifts to load and unload pallets from trucks instead of transferring loads manually can help alleviate this situation, the company notes. Smart Pallets offer even more labor savings for Toray, as tag readers constantly track pallets and eliminate the need to physically check inventory.
This setup dramatically reduces the risk of shipment losses. This benefit results from tracking shipments accurately by combining data on pallet numbers at the point of origin, Toray’s goods shipping information, and pallet collection information from customers. Toray generally uses Smart Pallets for shipment orders exceeding one metric ton for products in paper packaging. Another benefit of Smart Pallets it stresses, is that they are plastic, eliminating goods damage from nails or from contaminants like wood splinters, insect infestations, or mold.
Toray’s adoption of Smart Pallets is also in keeping with the company’s declaration of support in September 2019 for an initiative that three Japanese ministries launched in April that year to help the logistics sector overcome truck driver shortages. The three are the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Key goals of that initiative are to bolster transportation productivity and overall logistics efficiency and enhance working conditions for women and individuals older than 60.
Toray states that it will continue collaborating with customers and logistics firms to improve the work environments and sustainability of logistics operations in keeping with its commitment to corporate social responsibility.