Management of Returnable Packaging - Keeping the supplier supplied

Automotive OEMs encourage the use of Returnable Packaging, generally known as Returnable Transport Items (RTI), to move parts from their suppliers to their production lines or after-sales facilities. RTIs enable companies to eliminate the costs involved in the disposal of one-way packaging such as cardboard boxes and also help to reduce the environmental footprint of the automotive industry.

A large number of OEMs*, Tier suppliers and LSPs from across Europe have worked together in an Odette project group to develop a best practice recommendation which defines the essential preconditions to packaging management such as master data management, pool installation and maintenance as well as describing the core operational processes such as packaging agreement, packaging accounting and, most importantly, how to keep the supplier supplied with the optimum quantity of empty RTIs.

Web portal applications are sometimes used to control and monitor returnable packaging but, to truly automate the overall process, a structured exchange of data which can be directly integrated into ERP systems is required and one of the major achievements of the Odette RTI Project Group has been the development of more than a dozen digital messages based on UN/EDIFACT standards which will serve to fully automate and speed up the essential communications between the suppliers, OEMs and LSPs involved in the order, supply and transport of RTIs.

Now in the final phase of development, the Best Practice Recommendation and the suite of digital messages, including a Data Model and ”Typical Scenario”, sub-process descriptions, make up a comprehensive tool kit for the Management of Returnable Packaging which will be available in Q2 2018 from .

* 2 major OEMs involved in the development work and committed to implement the Odette recommendation will present their return of experience at Odette2018 Conference