Why Pathfindr’s Smart Stillage and Tracking Solution Could Save your Company Thousands

Every business loses things, from offices losing documents to warehouses losing parcels, and a lot of the time it is not down to bad management or employees but human error, honest mistakes and general ‘I swear I left it there’ moments. But what happens when your business is in the automotive manufacturing space and losing a roll cage or specialist stillages that transport components cost you £200 a time – and you lose on average 200 of them a year. Now that soon becomes an issue and starts adding up to a large amount.

This is the reality for 3 companies who have a problem with consistently misplacing, losing, and then having to replace those very roll cages and stillages again and again – a costly practice.

Distribution Stillages

Before we get into the solutions available to these companies, let’s look at the some of the background and the situations these companies find themselves in.

These 3 companies are highly respected global manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive industry delivering high-volume, expensive components and rely on specially designed stillages and roll cages to transport goods from station to station across multiple warehouses and then transported to suppliers and dealerships worldwide.

Roll Cage Tracking for Distribution Centres

The first 2 companies have a combined 5000 roll cages, which cost around £100-£200 each to buy, so a combined total value of between £500k – £1m. These cages are pivotal to getting spare parts from distribution warehouses to retailers in a safe and protected manner. However due to having poor visibility on these cages, they are often misplaced, moved, left in the wrong location or in some cases left outside the facility and are subject to corrosion and the elements. 

To compensate for these losses, the companies order more roll cages then they would need each time, usually 10% more, so an order of 100 required roll cages becomes 110 ordered, just to ensure the lost ones do not impact the manufacturing process – this is called the reserve pool. But this is not a cost-effective process, and one that relies on a set number of losses meaning if more are lost or broken that the reserve pool has, then the process slows down or even stops until more are delivered. 

These figures do not factor in the additional knock-on effects that are faced by the retailer including having to explain to customers why parts are not available, the brand reputation is then affected, resulting in additional costs to correct the poor service received. 

On average, the companies estimates that a conservative cost of poor customer service, coupled with other factors such as increased hire car time and servicing delays resulting from delayed parts and components due to stillage loss and replacement is between £500 and £1000 per dealership per annum.

Alongside this, the roll cages can be lost or broken during transportation between distribution centres and retailers, and with no active visibility on these, the companies have no way of knowing what happened or became of them. These costs are not then just subject to replacing the roll cages, but also the lost components, the downtime it causes, the knock-on effect to their customers of goods not being available and then the cost of additional transportation. A simple case of missing roll cages can have a tremendous detrimental effect on a myriad of things. 

Stillage Tracking for Manufacturers

The third company is a high-end automotive manufacturer specialising in bespoke components for vehicles, who use specially designed stillages to transport their sub-assemblies from their warehouses to the assembly line. These stillages cost between £1000 – £10,000 each and are considered an integral part of the manufacturing and logistical process. However, every year the company ascertains that they ‘lose’ around 4% of them, totalling around £100,000 in replacement costs alone. 

With all this in mind, what can be done to help companies reduce or even stop these roll cages and stillages from going missing or being lost in transportation?

For starters all 3 companies already have barcodes attached to each stillage so that when it arrives at a station or warehouse it is ‘scanned in’. However, this is only effective at the time of scanning in, and does not allow for the stillage to be tracked in locations where scanning has not taken place or is unavailable or while being transported.

This can lead to cages being left to the side after work has been done on them, or deliveries coming in and not being properly scanned, resulting in potential delays while they are looked for and scanned in.

This is where Pathfindr’s stillage tracking solution comes into its own. 

Pathfindr develops Smart Stillage with Lowe UK

Not only can every roll cage and stillage be tracked and have its location accounted for, but it can be done in real-time, day or night, no matter if it is in the warehouse, production line or being transported to a dealership. This is accomplished by fixing a small tracking beacon to each stillage and cage, which sends a signal via our GPS+ box direct to the online portal. Each tracking beacon has a battery life of around 2 years, so you won’t have to worry about the tracking capabilities from one week to the next. Once uploaded to the portal, you have the ability to name each beacon accordingly, so there is no confusion between your assets. 

The online portal has multiple options for you to set up ‘zones’ that send alerts should certain assets enter or exit that zone. This gives further visibility and accountability for the stillages and roll cages location and movements. You are able to see a timeline of the beacon’s movement over a set period, enabling you to follow the WIP or asset during transportation.

The Smart Stillage solution would give total visibility to those that require it to see where cages and stillages are during a manufacturing process thanks to the online dedicated portal. This visibility would not only allow the location of stillages and roil cages to be known at any given time but would allow a greater insight into where holdups and bottle necks are occurring in the production line. 

This WIP visibility can greatly speed up the manufacturing processes by highlighting areas that are not performing as efficiently as possible. If a business is told the end-to-end process takes 10 days from delivery to distribution but find out that 3 of those days are because the goods coming in are left on the side of a loading bay waiting, changes can be made to reduce costs, overheads and time wasted during production.

The companies have estimated that by utilising Pathfindr’s real-time asset tracking, they could save close to £1 million per annum combined, just by being able to have full visibility of their roll cages and stillages from beginning to end of the WIP and through transportation to distribution centres and back again.

So, if you are struggling to keep a handle on all your stillages, roll cages or any other asset in your company, get in touch with us today to see how Pathfindr’s smart stillage and real-time asset tracking solution can save you time and money.