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Markets in Transition: Pallet Management Software Providers Offer Robust Solutions for Asset Control
Reusable packaging expert, Rick LeBlanc, identifies some of the top pallet and container tracking programs on the market with some insights on the various approaches to managing private pools.
By Rick LeBlanc
Date Posted: 12/1/2013
With millions of pallets in closed loop pools or semi-private logistics networks around the world, the need for smart tracking software continues to grow as suppliers develop ever more flexible solutions. It used to be that you could separate pallet management or control software into three main categories. The first is batch control where assets are tracked by batch (100 pallets shipped, 100 returned), and the second is tracking via a serial number, or finally tracking of packaging assets for a specialized industry, such as beverage, chemical or industrial sectors. Some were desktop solutions while others were a cloud-based service.
Nowadays, pallet or reusable asset management software providers offer a full range of well supported, scalable solutions that work in harmony with enterprise systems in multiple industries. Whether you are a pallet user needing to manage your own pallets, or a pallet company wishing to provide third party pallet management services, connecting with the right software is essential. Here’s a basic review of some top options available on the market today.
2ic Software: (www.2icsoftware.com)
2ic Software operates in eight countries, with over 2,000 software licenses issued to its 2ic Pallets offering. Over 1,200 users take advantage of the cloud-based solution. It provides nearly 100 import file formats from various pallet companies, including CHEP and other leading pallet rental/hire providers.
“While there are a number of customers using 2ic Pallets to successfully manage closed loop equipment pools,” said Andrew Whittam, chief executive officer of 2ic Software, “this only uses a fraction of the software’s capability. The primary focus of 2ic Pallets, and its point of difference, is managing accounts with pallet companies like CHEP.”
Andrew points out that using pooled pallets is cost effective but only when managed well, and the management is complex.” 2ic Pallets is designed to prevent losses from happening,” He added. “Additionally, 2ic Pallets provides the utmost efficient means of managing accounts. Automatic reconciliation of invoices, generation of rejections and corrections, and having pallet company rules built in to guide pallet controllers through the process are all big contributors to this efficiency.”
“Packaging equipment is an absolute necessity in the supply chain, but outside the pallet companies, it is no one’s core business,” Andrew pointed out. “The purpose of 2ic Pallets is to mitigate risks associated with pallets and streamline the management of them so they never become a distraction from a supply chain company’s core business.’
iLogic: (masLogic) (www.maslogic.com)
With over 25 years of pallet management software experience, iLogic is the software partner for 9BLOC through its masLogic program. 9BLOC is a white-wood pallet industry standard for the grocery market in the United States.
iLogic provides solutions for single companies, industry pools, and asset manufacturers, as well as depot and service providers, and can offer migration paths to grow from small implementations into global networks. It provides implementation, training and support and offers multi-language versions. Flexible and easy to use security configuration allows for data confidentiality and inter-company collaboration.
iLogic points out that it supports an array of asset management approaches, including exchange, one-way, rental, buy back or combinations. The company suggested that its pricing model allows for minimum initial risks and costs while still being scalable to provide for fast growth in the future.
Reporting features support operational demands as well as long term strategic management of assets, while additional features optimize the utilization of assets to reduce costs of ownership, transportation and environmental impact.
Most companies only think about control after they have experienced pallet or container loss, comments Angus Wolfendale of Kontrol. “Asset Management should be the primary consideration before any equipment is released into the supply-chain,” he said. “Without tight control from the outset, trying to achieve it later is extremely difficult.”
Wolfendale cautioned that the enthusiasm for RFID-enabled systems fails to recognise the costs of implementation and the constraints that a disparate multi-organisational supply-chain imposes.
Kontrol, on the other hand, does not require all locations to use serial-number tracking. The serial number can be scanned at point of issue, thereafter the items being tracked by quantity and type at each intermediate location until the serial-number is once again scanned on return to the equipment depot. At this point the Kontrol database does a “catchup”, booking the serial number back into the depot, yet all location balances have been maintained in real-time. Equipment and Serial-numbers can “move” independent of each other.
Finally, Wolfendale noted that Kontrol is unusual in that all locations can view their equipment-related charges as they are incurred. This greatly improves trust between participants and identifies charge-related queries immediately, enabling them to be quickly resolved before invoicing takes place.
“We know that huge back-logs of queries can be common-place in other systems - leading to fraught client relationships and an atmosphere of mistrust,” he concluded. “The situation where large fines are being imposed for lost equipment is something that should not be permitted to arise.”
Today IT: (www.avalanche-online.com)
Today IT is an international market leader in providing software solutions for returnable transit packaging management, said, Frank de Vos, chief executive officer of Today IT. By providing both standard and tailor-made solutions, Today IT enables companies of all sizes to gain more control over their valuable transport items, to streamline their processes and to prevent unnecessary losses. Its software is called Avalanche and is used by more than 15,000 users in over 20 countries and supports the management of more than 4,500 different types of returnable transit items.
Although initially aimed at the floriculture market, Today IT’s solutions are now used in a wide variety of sectors, such as the automotive, retail, aviation, logistics and pooling markets.
“In today’s complex supply chains, it is critical that packaging is available when and where you need it,” de Vos stressed. “Today IT’s software solutions significantly cut back the time and effort needed to track, retrieve, clean and inventory packaging assets, thereby achieving cost savings that can amount up to 3% of a company’s sales. Today IT’s solutions are proven, flexible, user-friendly, based on extensive market experience, and continuously being improved to provide customers with the most effective and innovative solutions.”
There are several other providers we haven’t covered above. Here are a few more to include in your evaluation: