RFID Talk Blog

RFID 24-7 $1M-A-DAY CHALLENGE DAY 8: Mission Foods ($2.2M-PLUS)

Sector: Retail Distribution

Savings: $2.2 Million

Submitted by Intermec

Mission Foods, the maker of tortillas, chips, salsa and taco shells, is in the final stages of rolling out RFID to all of its North America distribution centers to provide better inventory accuracy and better efficiencies when it comes to tracking the returnable plastic containers (RPC) it uses to ship product.

When Mission Foods deployed stage one at its Texas facilities in 2010, the company saved $700,000 on packaging costs from switching from corrugated trays to reusable plastics trays. Last year Mission Foods rolled out the program to its West Coast DCs, resulting in additional savings of $1 million. When the company finishes deploying 13 portals at its East coast facilities next month, it anticipates another $500,000 in savings from better usage of its RPCs.

Mission Foods has tagged 1.9 million trays to date. Eduardo Valdes, vice president of IT at Mission Foods, says that the company  hopes to boost its bottom line even further by charging distributors who take too long to return trays. In addition, the company is using RFID to monitor some of its crucial in-store merchandising displays, such as the units it sets up for events like the Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo. By doing so, Mission Foods can receive confirmation that the units have been moved to the store from the back room, and are actively being displayed.

“We went live in Texas in 2010,” says Valdes, “and in 2011 we expedited the installation on the West Coast because the company was looking for additional savings due to [decreased] sales from the poor economy at the time.”

With the RFID system, the packaged products are picked and loaded onto the RPCs, which are labeled with RFID labels. The RPCs are then loaded onto pallets and the RFID label is encoded by an Intermec PM4i Smart Printer, where it is then applied to the pallet wrap. The Intermec IF61 readers record these pallets and associated RPCs as a forklift drives though an outbound portal prior to the loading dock. When the delivery trucks return, the RPCs are again processed through an inbound portal, offering an easy, immediate reconcile of inventory.

This new process offered Mission Foods a streamlined, easy-to-implement solution that tracked where items were returned and was also quickly adopted by staff.

“The RFID technology increased not only efficiency for staff, but also our profitability,” said Valdes. “Once the containers are labeled and scanned by the outbound portal, we can automatically track where all of our containers are and have a direct course of action if they aren’t returned. Also, now that our independent distributors know we have this tracking technology they make sure the RPCs are returned on time.”

For more information on the Mission Foods deployment, check out next week’s issue of RFID 24-7. Subscribe here.

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