First phase of multi-phase pilot helps Alpha Baking reduce tray loss and improve tray utilization throughout its supply chain
CHICAGO, Ill. — Alpha Baking, a national distributor of fresh and frozen breads, rolls and buns with four plants and multiple depots across the United States, is testing a fully integrated asset tracking solution to determine its effectiveness in reducing bakery tray loss. Prior to the pilot, Alpha Baking, based in Chicago, experienced significant tray loss each year, with no visibility to where the loss was occurring. It partnered with The Kennedy Group and ORBIS Corporation to conduct a 9-month pilot using radio-frequency identification tag (RFID) technology to track trays and determine areas of tray loss within their supply chain.
The first phase of the pilot involved tagging and tracking a statistically significant sampling of trays as they moved from Alpha Baking’s production plants to its individual ship points. “As an industry, we are trying to solve a problem we can’t define, “ explained Bob McGuire, vice-president and director of logistics for Alpha Baking and chairman of the American Baking Association Fleet and Distribution Committee. “We know as an industry that we are all experiencing a great deal of tray loss, but until now, we have been unable to measure and understand those losses. The use of RFID has quantified and defined the root of the problem(s) and helped us take corrective action to better control and utilize our bakery trays at Alpha Baking.”
Using bakery trays supplied by ORBIS, the RFID system is powered by ePReusable™, The Kennedy Group’s reusable asset tracking application. The Kennedy Group supplied the RFID tags, installed the portals and created the read points for a realistic end-to-end experience. ePReusable allows Alpha Baking’s logistics team to generate reports with tray destination points, trip duration time and the average turn duration per destination.
“The Kennedy Group has identified an unfulfilled and pressing need in the bakery industry,” explained Patrick Kennedy, vice-president of marketing and sales for The Kennedy Group, an RFID solution provider, offering asset management software, tags, hardware, and professional services. “We have taken the time to understand the unique nuances of this complex industry issue and created a scalable, end-to-end solution that gives bakeries visibility of their trays throughout the bakery supply chain. And, since RFID requires no line of sight, trays can be tracked throughout the system, without any manual intervention or interruption in normal business activities.”
ePReusable™ gave Alpha Baking visibility to assets in its system, while enabling it to see loss patterns, develop corrective actions and implement new processes to mitigate tray loss and better utilize their existing trays in the future.
According to Bob Klimko, director of retail supply chain marketing for ORBIS Corporation, a leading manufacturer of plastic reusable trays, dollies and pallets for the bakery industry, “We are very excited about the benefits our bakery customers can experience with asset tracking. This pilot, conducted with our long standing partner, Alpha Baking, proved that tagging and tracking trays is effective in helping these companies better utilize their reusable assets, resulting in more turns and improving their ability to reallocate assets when and where they are needed.”
Alpha Baking has made reducing tray loss a company-wide priority and employees and supply chain partners have collaborated to effectively manage Alpha Baking’s fleet of bakery trays. According to McGuire, “This first phase is providing accountability relative to where trays are being lost or delayed in the supply chain, and we are now able to identify the ship-to locations that are not in compliance. We quickly realized that 20 percent of the non-compliant ship-to locations accounted for 80 percent of the tray issues and we are now able to create processes for greater control. People watch what we watch. If the ship-to locations know we are watching the bakery trays, then they will too.”
This first phase signifies the first pilot of its kind that proves the effectiveness and scalability of an asset tracking system for the bakery industry. Future phases may include expanding the number of trays being tagged, as well as tracking trays at the depot and route levels.
About Alpha Baking
Founded in 1979, Alpha Baking has grown to become one of the largest specialty bakeries in the country. With over 1,000 employees, Alpha Baking Company distributes fresh and frozen breads across the United States. Alpha’s four bakeries, dedicated private freezer and 15 distribution centers serve the direct store delivery (DSD), retail, foodservice, institutional, restaurant and frozen products markets. Products include rye, sourdough, Italian, French, pan and wide pan breads, Kaiser rolls, hot dog and hamburger buns, French rolls, bagels, and organic and frozen fully-baked bread products. Its products are sold in individual restaurants and national restaurant chains, quick service restaurants, schools, institutions, major league sports franchises, warehouse club stores, national grocery chains, and independent grocery stores. For more information, please visit www.alphabaking.com.
About The Kennedy Group
Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, The Kennedy Group is a leader in labeling, packaging, promotions, identification, and tracking systems for a variety of industries including food processing, household chemical, consumer products, industrial, automotive, material handling, biomedical, electronics, electrical and chemical.
Comprised of four divisions, the Labeling and Packaging Division offers a wide variety of pressure-sensitive, promotional and roll-fed/ROSO film products that create unique shelf appeal and powerful branding solutions. The Material Handling Identification Systems Division provides specific identification solutions and label holders for reusable containers, racks and pallet storage areas. In addition, the companies Promotional Response Products Division offers front-page advertising programs to newspapers as well as a National Program, managed by TKG Media Network that provides advertisers with a streamlined process to place a wide assortment of colorful, removable advertisements on the front pages of more than 450 newspapers reaching over 35 million consumers daily. The RFID Solutions Division provides turnkey assistance in helping major manufacturers to test, specify, install, service and support their EPC-compliant, fully integrated systems. Through its RFID Customer Solution Center, The Kennedy Group helps customers verify that the technology will work in their application to assist them with furthering their efforts to meet EPC compliance. To learn more about The Kennedy Group visit www.kennedygrp.com.
About ORBIS Corporation
ORBIS Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Menasha Corporation. With more than 160 years of material handling expertise and 55 years of plastics innovations, ORBIS consists of a portfolio of businesses that meet the material handling needs of companies across many industries. ORBIS helps world-class customers move their product faster, safer and more cost-effectively with plastic reusable containers, bulk systems, pallets and protective dunnage. Using a proven approach, ORBIS experts analyze its customers’ systems, design a solution and execute a reusable packaging program for longer-term cost savings and sustainability. Using life-cycle assessments to compare reusable and single-use packaging, ORBIS also helps customers reduce their overall environmental impact. ORBIS is a part of Menasha Corporation, the 3rd oldest family owned business in the United States. As a steward of sustainability, ORBIS is committed to a better world for future generations. ORBIS tracks and measure our own resource utilization to continuously conserve natural resources and reduce waste. For more information, please visit www.orbiscorporation.com.