Reverse logistics refers to the control over product returns. Just like dealing with unsatisfied customers and counting stock, it is part and parcel of the Top Machine Vision Inspection System Manufacturer. Online shoppers return goods for many different reasons. Products may be broken or damaged, not as expected, or of insufficient quality. Orders may arrive late, incorrect, or incomplete. Sometimes customers order the wrong product or just decide they do not want it.
Although returns make up a big proportion of online sales in lots of industries, companies fearing bad publicity are reluctant to talk about them. Because of this, reverse logistics gets little discussion. However, it can have enormous implications to the smooth and efficient running of the business.
Key components of reverse logistics – There are a variety of key components to effective reverse logistics. To maintain customers happy, online retailers (referred to as e-retailers) must have a very good returns policy in place, and ship exchange items/issue credit notes or refunds efficiently and quickly. According to research, eighty-nine percent of online buyers say return policies influence their decision to purchase having an e-retailer.
It is additionally important to minimise the price of reverse logistics to some business. One method to make this happen would be to manage the retention or disposal of returned products. This is referred to as asset recovery.
Asset recovery – E-retailers place returned products into action categories to recover costs. These usually include:
1. Restock – unopened products which can go straight back into inventory
2. Repackage for sale – opened goods in “as new” condition ideal for repackaging and resale
3. Repair/recondition for sale – faulty products appropriate for repair and resale at a lower cost
4. Come back to vendor – items to be returned for the original vendor or manufacturer for credit or exchange
5. Scrap – products with virtually no recovery vale
The challenges of asset recovery include sorting items into these categories, updating inventories instantly, and recording customer returns. Doing these tasks manually is slow and inefficient, which bleeds money. This really is unacceptable, especially in the current economic crisis.
Automated parcel sortation
Automated sortation systems, which many e-retailers already use to optimise order fulfillment and delivery, help solve the issues of asset recovery. They expedite the sorting and processing of returned goods, and incorporate software that automatically updates inventories.
Benefits include improved efficiency, reduced costs, and the opportunity to track parcels. Automated sortation systems are ideal for any company which has a returns policy.
Sortation systems for asset recovery – an example.
At sorter induction points, operators scan returned products, inspect or test them to determine their asset recovery value, and designate appropriate action categories. Products are then placed onto conveyors or sorter trays manually or using automatic feeders.
A piece of equipment vision system mounted overhead identifies product labels and instructs the sorter to deliver items to specific destinations for additional processing. Destinations include facilities for all the action categories, including repackaging areas and waste collection sites.
Identifying parcel labels – Automated sortation systems utilize one of two types of technology used to identify parcel labels: traditional laser scanners and camera based machine vision systems. Lasers rely on barcodes, and have been used to scan parcels for over thirty years.
Camera based systems use auto-focus, line-scan, high-speed cameras to capture high-resolution photographic images of parcel labels. The system uses sophisticated computer algorithms and optical character recognition (OCR) techniques to interpret these images.
Users can configure camera systems with multiple units to photograph up to six sides of any parcel. What this means is the label can be in any orientation on these faces.
The advantages of camera systems – Read rates are crucial towards the efficient running of the automated sortation system. When associated with a videocoding system, a facility that allows operators to input unreadable labels manually, camera systems achieve read rates approaching 100% at high speed.
OCR technology allows camera systems to read text, supplier numbers, and even human written address information, as well as barcodes and 2D codes. Cameras also identify dirty, marked or damaged codes, and codes behind droupq packaging.
Camera systems contain few moving parts and require little maintenance. As a result them tough and sturdy – ideal for warehousing or some other industrial environments. Long service lives mean they may be affordable long term.
Conclusion – In reverse logistics, Automated Vision Inspection Machines quickly separate items for asset recovery and send them for additional processing. They reduce costs preventing loading docks becoming jammed with thousands, sometimes even millions of pounds amount of returned merchandise. Automated sortation systems certainly are a highly beneficial, affordable solution for e-retailers under pressure to slice budgets and meet efficiency, productivity, and throughput targets.