Plastic totes offer security and traceability for mobile phones

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The Carphone Warehouse, which handles large volumes of phones and accessories, has solved its security and traceability concerns within its supply chain by switching to plastic totes for the picking and delivery of orders to stores. The company previously used a cardboard box system.

After looking at the various options, The Carphone Warehouse decided to use two sizes of Linpac Materials Handling’s hinged lid boxes across its picking, despatch and delivery processes. Operatives at the company’s Midlands distribution centre, which serves 500-plus UK stores, are now using handheld RF scanners to pick into the boxes which are each individually reference coded.

Each product is scanned as it is removed from its fixture so that the pick exactly matches the order. The picking system will alert the operative if an incorrect product of quantity has been picked. Once the picking is complete, the box is closed and secured at each end by a randomly numbered security tag, which is scanned at every stage of the box’s journey.

Shaun Tymon, the company’s head of warehouse operations, explains the initial problem: “Many of the products we supply are small items and delivering them in cardboard boxes was unsatisfactory from both a security and product protection point of view. As well as their lack of durability, there was also the risk that these boxes could be tampered with en route to their destination.”

Tymon says that since introducing the Linpac hinged lid boxes “we haven’t received a single claim on any box contents being lost between the DC and store”.

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