I interviewed Stephane Pique who discussed Managing RTI :RFID Can Unlock Your Supply Chain.
It’s nice to speak with you again, Stephane. Today I’m looking forward to hearing your second topic that we’ve scheduled. Today's topic is about managing RTI with the view that RFID can unlock your supply chain. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?
Sure, Dustin. My name is Stephane Pique; I am in the position of Director of the RFID Industry Solutions Groups. I have been working in RFID for over 20 years. I have worked in different companies and industries, but always related to RFID. I also work a lot with the European Commission, Government bodies and many different end customers deploying the technology.
Thank you. Can you talk about what RTI is and the business case behind it?
RTI stands for returnable transport items, and this includes any kind of assets which are used for transporting goods from one point to the other. Here we talk about bins, trays, trolleys, pallets, everything which is owned by a specific company and is used for supply chain and transportation purposes.
The use case and the killer application behind that is the following: Most of the companies have RTIs in their ownership, in their books. Unfortunately, most of those companies have no control over how many they have and where they are. A lot of them are lost during transit. Thus, they have a lot of overstock of the specific RTIs because they want to make sure that when they need it in a specific peak time, they have enough of them available for transportation.
A lot of those companies are still buying RTIs every year, with millions of dollars being invested. They have this specific overstock, which can be reduced by having a very efficient management of these RTIs.
Management of these RTIs can be done by simple serialization, just giving every one a simple number and having the capability of tracking and identifying those specific RTIs through the point of transit so that everybody’s able to identify where those RTIs are, when they’re available, who’s responsible for them, have they been returned by any specific partner or other customers, etc.
All the questions about the managing of those RTIs can be answered by serialization. In terms of identification, you could use barcoding, but the problem with barcoding is that you need a lot of manual intervention. Most of the companies are using RFID in this respect in order to optimize the process flow and track and trace those RTIs through the different processes.
There’s a real low-hanging fruit application and business case behind managing RTIs with the use of RFID. Most of the companies can reduce their safety stock by 15 to 20 percent, and this represents a lot of money for them. The ROI is quite quick and gives the capability, also, to expense the application, because through this investment into the RTI management, you create infrastructure, and this infrastructure can then be used for other supply chain-related purposes, such as tracking goods, tracking people, or any other process optimizations.
Why do you think this could unlock supply chain?
I believe that this has the potential to unlock the supply chain because there is a clear business case behind it. It is only for the company itself, so it’s a low-hanging fruit with a fast ROI where the business case is so clear and given. If every company invests in this kind of application, by using GS1’s standards—and here, I have to say GS1 is a not-for-profit organization which is taking care of all the B2B relationships in terms of identification and communication. They are taking care of standardization of barcoding and RFID. If you’re using GS1 and realizing your RTI approach, then you have a clear protection of your investment, and you can assure that this investment into the infrastructure can be expanded to your customer and to your supplier very easily through the GS1 standards. This has the real potential to unlock the supply chain because it’s not a closed-system application; it can be then very quickly expanded to an open-system application.
When do you see this happening?
This is happening now. Fortunately, a lot of companies have identified and realized that RTI management is a real compelling business case, so major retailers, major transportation companies are already using RFID to manage their RTIs.
I expect that as more companies use the GS1 standards in these kinds of applications in the coming four to five years, we will be able to really connect the different internal applications and make it an open system which is usable for the whole supply chain and partners. The more companies are investing into this low-hanging fruit by using GS1 standards, the faster we will progress into unlocking the supply chains.
Thank you for sharing today your views on this topic of managing RTI with the view that RFID can unlock your supply chain.
About Stephane Pique
Director RFID Industry Solutions Group EA