Sustainability is a buzz word in many industries today. One way companies look to become more sustainable is by investing in returnable containers. They can be kinder to the environment as well as the company’s balance sheet by not having to continually purchase single-use containers.
Many companies don’t stop there. To maximize their investment in their returnable containers they seek out innovative ways to track both their pallets and products. Smarter systems lead to less loss and less loss leads to happy customers. That is a concept companies like Wisconsin-based TriEnda wanted to explore further.
TriEnda, the largest manufacturer of thermoformed packaging and material handling solutions in North America, had customers in both the automotive and food and beverage industries inquire about making their systems smarter using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. After researching potential options, the team at TriEnda found Iowa-based Metalcraft, a manufacturer of customized, durable RFID labels and tags. “We knew of Metalcraft in the industry, so we contacted them about RFID,” said Heidi Bulgrin, New Product Development Manager at TriEnda.
Several challenges faced the team when they started offering RFID. First, RFID is not a one-size-fits-all technology. Different companies wanted to track different information about the pallets and/or the products they carried. With Metalcraft’s customized RFID programming capabilities this was a non-issue. The Metalcraft team even worked with the individual customers’ internal IT teams to ensure an easy integration to their backend software.
Finding the right RFID tag was another issue the team faced. TriEnda wanted to assure their customers the RFID tags would survive the environment they’d be exposed to regularly. Again, the Metalcraft team stepped up providing RFID tags with different adhesives for customers to test. “The samples went a long way in securing the business because they eased customers mind – ensuring that not only the technology would work, but that the adhesive would last as well,” said Bulgrin. “Metalcraft also provided test reports that showed tag durability.”
Metalcraft’s support went beyond just finding the right product for TriEnda’s customers. They helped the team better understand how incorporating RFID into an asset tracking system would benefit their customers. “Metalcraft was able to provide the knowledge and education we needed to feel comfortable offering RFID to customers,” said Bulgrin. “They walked us through the process and made sure we were all on the same page.” Metalcraft also worked with TriEnda’s integration partner to ensure the entire system worked smoothly.
Bulgrin reports TriEnda now offers the RFID system as a standard product. The system also appears to be pandemic-proof as this portion of TriEnda’s business continues to grow during COVID-19. “Customers have less loss of products and pallets,” she said. “We were able to prove value-add and it wasn’t that expensive to add the tag component which is the most important part.”
It’s been a great partnership between TriEnda and Metalcraft. “Ultimately we chose Metalcraft because they had the best solution, best price and best service,” said Bulgrin. “We know these tags will last as long as the pallets themselves.”