Tap. Scan. Count. How an app-based solution simplifies recollection of IFCO RPCs

written by IFCO SYSTEMS, 2nd October 2019, in Stories

Counting pallet stacks manually may soon be a task of the past. With MyIFCO recollect, managing pooling assets is as close as your smartphone. The new easy-to-use app-based scanning system requires no investment or training.

Two meters from the floor, just above eye level, a white horizontal line on the wall marks the optimal height of a full pallet. When manually counting reusable plastic containers (RPCs), the simplest and fastest method has been to visually measure the stacks against a pre-defined level. "Normally, the pallets are stacked to a standard height," explains IFCO CEO Wolfgang Orgeldinger "This is then checked using various tools, including markings on the wall."

Until now. As part of its digitalization and innovation strategy, IFCO has developed MyIFCO recollect, a smartphone app that scans and counts IFCO RPCs. With just a few taps on the device’s screen, customers can now automatically scan full stacks of RPCs to identify the quantities and models – even on mixed pallets. And MyIFCO recollect manages the entire return: it indicates how many pallets have been scanned, how many RPCs are needed for a full truckload, and lets users schedule pick-up. The app is a new feature of MyIFCO digital services and requires no investment or training.

Digitalizing and simplifying RPC counting

MyIFCO recollect is among our advanced digital services that make IFCO RPC management more convenient for our customers. When using pooling systems for perishable fresh foods, retailers store empty containers on site until they have a sufficient number for cost-effective recollection. "Currently, in most cases, an employee must assess RPC types, count various sizes and models manually, and register these pool numbers, along with the area in square meters needed for logistics transport," says Orgeldinger.

Yet with greater volumes of RPCs, managing such inventories is difficult and time-consuming, making administration and organization efforts needlessly complex. By digitizing, simplifying and optimizing RPC counting for recollection, IFCO is improving the accuracy and reliability of this process, while helping our customers to reduce or avoid errors. "MyIFCO recollect ensures secure counting," says Orgeldinger. "In particular, it helps distinguish between different sizes of IFCO RPCs in the stacks."

Planning and managing recollection

MyIFCO recollect is based on image recognition. Users simply aim their smartphone at the full pallet stack, then repeat the scan from the other sides to increase accuracy. An algorithm based on the dimensions of IFCO RPC models assists with the counting process. Thus, MyIFCO recollect quickly and automatically:

  • identifies IFCO RPCs
  • counts and verifies model and size
  • optimizes the recollection processes

Through preset parameters, MyIFCO recollect also helps manage shipment size. When scanning a planned delivery, the setting displays the input as a percentage of a full truckload, so the user is always aware of how many stacks are still needed. For example, if the user scans 25 pallets, a bar graph shows that the recollection order has reached 76% of truck capacity – from 33 possible Euro-sized pallets (800x1200mm) in a shipment within mainland Europe. In the UK, where 1200x1000mm pallets are popular, shipments contain 52 pallets, while in the US, larger trucks typically carry 60 pallets (at 48 x 40 inches, about 1219x1016mm).

Making operations more efficient

Orgeldinger emphasizes that MyIFCO recollect will be initially available at IFCO service centers to support inbound delivery counting, and it will soon also be available outbound at the retail and shop level. "More functions are planned for 2019," he adds. "These will increase efficiency at other steps of the supply chain as well." Growers or packers, for example, could use the app to scan individual IFCO RPCs for fast recognition, then could replenish their stocks with a convenient quick-order function. Or they could scan surplus IFCO RPCs for return. And customers may soon be able to use MyIFCO recollect for inventory, making stock-taking a snap.

As a reliable service partner, IFCO administers ordering and deposits of RPCs, and monitors delivery, recollection, cleaning, sanitizing, maintenance and storage. MyIFCO recollect is among the automated and digital technologies that are transforming the food supply chain. Digitalization at IFCO optimizes processes, improves efficiency, increases transparency and ensures food safety. We make customers’ lives easier by putting advanced technology in their hands.

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