Dansk Retursystem collects and handles several million pieces of returnable packaging every year. A mobile IT solution from Tecsys will ensure the logistics of this colossal environmental ball.

2 million cans and bottles - per week!

Most consumers have tried dropping off bottles at a vending machine. Once individual consumers have unloaded their bottles, they become part of a much larger scenario: after brewers have collected their own returnable bottles, the remaining amount of returnable packaging in the form of one-way packaging must be collected.

They are handled by Dansk Retursystem in an extensive logistical task, where almost 100 trucks pick up pallets and other load carriers with 2 million disposable packages (cans, plastic and glass bottles) weekly from more than 5,000 return recipients (shops, restaurants, etc.) in Denmark.

Transport and IT in perfect harmony

The desire for better customer service and increased efficiency of this environmental ball was the basis for the Danish Return System to look for a mobile IT solution in autumn 2006. Manual registration and receipting of the units collected has so far been done with paper and pencil - a lengthy process that has not provided the necessary overview.

"In the autumn we put out to tender both the transport and the IT side of the logistics. The question was how we could best manage the large fleet and keep track of the many types of pick-ups. On the transport side, Dansk Miljlølogistik won the contract, and on the IT side, Tecsys won." Explains IT manager Charles Åberg, Dansk Retursystem.

Mobile data solution

Tecsys and Dansk Retursystem quickly entered into a collaboration on a preliminary analysis of how the logistics of driving and collection should be handled. A requirements specification was then drawn up, which has now resulted in drivers being required to use hand-held terminals to scan the load carriers (pallets, plastic boxes and bags of disposable packaging) collected from autumn 2007. The collection point, which may be a grocery store, contacts DRS, which books the collection in the company's Environmental Logistics system when collection is required. In their systems, driving lists are generated and sent via the Danish Return System to the individual driver's hand terminal/PDA via GPRS. Along with the route list comes information on whether he needs to bring empty transport cages to the customer, for example. At the collection point, barcodes are read on the load carrier (bag, pallet) being collected and the customer digitally signs directly on the PDA screen.

Of course, the driver has the possibility to correct the list - for example if urgent cases come in - so that the route can be optimised manually. But as a general rule, he only needs to hit the road according to the electronic list.

Handheld terminals with environmental impact

According to Charles Åberg, the system will gradually replace paper and pencil for both planning and collection when it is fully implemented in autumn 2007. First of all, this means a great increase in efficiency through the exact registration of collected packaging - while at the same time ensuring control over all load carriers and optimising customer service, since the customer can, for example, obtain information about the driver's route, expected arrival, etc. at any time.

"You probably don't become a truck driver by fiddling with a lot of paper every day." Says Charles Åberg. "It has been a necessary evil imposed by logistics. But with the hand terminal project, we can now eliminate the manual waybills and also improve our management of load carriers, giving much greater assurance of correct settlement of the quantities collected."

Paper consumption has been eliminated and fuel consumption reduced

Charles Åberg explains that paperwork has been a burden for those involved in the past. He estimates the amount of paper used to be close to a considerable amount daily, and sees it as an environmental benefit that this paper consumption can now be eliminated.

Charles Åberg continues, "We work under an order from the Ministry of the Environment, and our entire organisation is strictly built around an environmental issue. So it's great to be able to get rid of the large amount of paper, but with the Tecsys solution we also gain benefits in other environmental areas. The mobile terminals and digital driving lists give us much more flexibility to optimise transport and thus reduce the fuel consumption of the trucks."

Efficiency and better service

In terms of production, there is also an increase in efficiency: Dansk Retursystem has two central counting locations in Denmark. The machinery here is obviously sized to handle occasional fluctuations in packaging volume, but optimising staffing has been a difficult task so far. With scanning, recording of packaging quantities and an overview of where packaging is almost from minute to minute, it will be much simpler in future to staff counting points optimally.

“The solution doesn’t save that much money, but we will provide a much better service to our customers and we won’t have to constantly work at the back end of the environmental task we are assigned.” Charles Åberg concludes.

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