According to Packaging Digest, more than 10% of freight arriving at distribution has suffered some amount of case damage. When you consider that more than 49 million tons of freight valued at more than $52.5 billion are moved every day on average, that means more than $5 billion worth of goods might be damaged in a single day. Multiply that out by a year and the costs for damage during shipping are extraordinary.
Cause of Damage in Shipping
Often, when we think about damage to cargo, we envision a carrier that was involved in an accident. While accidents play a role in damage, the cause often occurs in the ordinary course of doing business. Every time an item is handled, there is a risk of damage. Improper handling, loading, or unloading can increase the odds a product gets damaged.
If damage to shipments is obvious from the outside, items can be inspected before you sign off on receiving them. The more difficult thing to find is concealed damage. From the outside of the container, everything may look fine. The appearance doesn’t give you a reason to inspect further.
It’s the concealed damage that’s the real culprit. When damage is hidden, you may not uncover it until after delivery. Once the shipment has been accepted, it will be much more difficult to prove a damage claim against the shipper.
For visibly damaged goods, you may have months to file a claim. With concealed damage, you may lose your option to recoup the costs incurred from damage if you fail to file a claim within five days. For many items, packaging may not be opened in time to meet this deadline when the damage is concealed.
Even if damage is present, it can be difficult to prove who was responsible for the problem. Were the goods damaged before loading onto a carrier? Did the damage happen in transit? Did the damage occur during the unloading or storage? Because of these variables, it may be difficult to file claims and recoup losses.
RFID Tracking for Impact Damage
In recent years, we’ve seen increased use of RFID tags in various industries to track assets, manage inventory, and monitor access. Now, you can use RFID tracking tags to detect when items in transit have been mishandled or have the potential for damage because of shocks or jolts.
The RFID tag monitors and registers for impact damage during the delivery process throughout the entire supply chain. The tags themselves are tamperproof and turn red when they experience an impact beyond a specific threshold you set.
Each time a package or product is scanned by an RFID reader, the condition is assessed and automatically entered into a warehouse management system, inventory tracking system, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
This process not only helps you know when products have suffered potential damage, so you can more closely inspect them, but it can also tell you where in the supply chain the damage occurred. This makes it much easier to pinpoint system problems or file claims.
The ShockWatch RFID passive RFID tag and tracking system automatically identifies which products need an inspection, assigns accountability for what stage of the transport damage occurred, and automates the reporting process. Thousands of packages and products can be scanned in just a few seconds as RFID tags do not need a line of sight to read. They can be placed inside boxes, crates, or packaging.
One company that provides ShockWatch RFID tags, SpotSee, reports that RFID tracking can reduce damage by 40% to 60%.
RFID Tracking for Shipping Conditions
RFID tags can also register temperature data. This is especially important for the shipping of perishable food items, such as produce and fruits. Besides tracking the location of items while in transit, if temperatures show outside of acceptable levels, the RFID tags will report the abnormality.
RFID can also capture data as goods pass through the supply chain from shipper to carrier to receiver. If items are delivered to hubs and transferred to warehouses or loaded onto other vehicles for delivery to their final destination, RFID tracking tags register each movement. This monitoring can help you uncover temperature variations during the process.
Ice cream might melt or frozen foods might thaw if left on a loading dock rather than being immediately stored in a temperature-controlled warehouse. Items might refreeze and you might never know that this happened. RFID tags monitoring temperature will record the changes so you can be aware of the conditions of your products at each step in the journey.
Avoid Damage with RFID Tracking
RFID tracking can help you uncover problems your freight or goods may experience during the shipping process. This makes it easier for you to spot damage and file claims. Once items are in your warehouse, the tracking continues so you can make sure the products are safely stored and damage-free before you move them to your customers.