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 a number of 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 incorrect product or just decide they do not want it.
Although returns make up a sizable proportion of online sales in numerous industries, companies fearing bad publicity are reluctant to discuss them. Consequently, reverse logistics gets little discussion. However, it can have enormous implications for the smooth and efficient running of a business.
Key components of reverse logistics – There are a number of key components to effective reverse logistics. To keep customers happy, online retailers (called e-retailers) must have a good returns policy set up, and ship exchange items/issue credit notes or refunds efficiently and quickly. Based on research, eighty-nine percent of online buyers say return policies influence their decision to look with an e-retailer.
It is also vital that you minimise the price of reverse logistics to your business. One method to make this happen would be to manage the retention or disposal of returned products. This is known as asset recovery.
Asset recovery – E-retailers place returned products into action categories to recuperate costs. These usually include:
1. Restock – unopened products which can go straight back into inventory
2. Repackage on the market – opened goods in “as new” condition appropriate for repackaging and resale
3. Repair/recondition on the market – faulty products appropriate for repair and resale with a lower cost
4. Come back to vendor – items to be returned towards 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 in to these categories, updating inventories live, and recording customer returns. Doing these tasks manually is slow and inefficient, which bleeds money. This is unacceptable, specifically in the current economic system.
Automated parcel sortation
Automated sortation systems, which many e-retailers already use to optimise order fulfillment and delivery, help solve the difficulties 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 that has a returns policy.
Sortation systems for asset recovery – an illustration.
At sorter induction points, operators scan returned products, inspect or test them to determine their asset recovery value, and designate appropriate action categories. Items are then placed onto conveyors or sorter trays manually or using automatic feeders.
A machine vision system mounted overhead identifies product labels and instructs the sorter to send things to specific destinations for further processing. Destinations include facilities for all of the action categories, such as repackaging areas and waste collection sites.
Identifying parcel labels – Automated sortation systems utilize one of two types of technology employed to identify parcel labels: traditional laser scanners and camera based machine vision systems. Lasers depend on barcodes, and have been employed to scan parcels for more than thirty years.
Camera based systems use auto-focus, line-scan, high-speed cameras to capture high-resolution photographic images of parcel labels. The program uses sophisticated computer algorithms and optical character recognition (OCR) techniques to interpret these images.
Users can configure camera systems with multiple units to photograph approximately 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 linked to 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. This makes them tough and durable – suitable for warehousing or any other industrial environments. Long service lives mean they may be cost efficient 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 and stop loading docks becoming jammed with thousands, sometimes even countless pounds worth of returned merchandise. Automated sortation systems really are a highly beneficial, cost effective solution for e-retailers under pressure to reduce budgets and meet efficiency, productivity, and throughput targets.