Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Success Story

Texas-based Mission Foods is one of the nation’s top tortilla and Mexican packaged food producers. Their products might be popular among consumers, but they recently decided their distribution process was in serious need of improvement.

Their procedure of placing their packaged products inside returnable plastic containers (RPCs) to be loaded into trucks and then returned to the company by the independent distributors after completing their sales was proving to be costly and ineffective. These RPCs often went missing, and keeping track of where they were returned was proving to be a monumental task. They simply had no good way of tracking when RPCs were returned to a different facility. As a result, they had to replace nearly 100 percent of their RPCs every year. With almost 20,000 RPCs leaving their Texas warehouse facilities each day, the company was finding itself shelling out more than $3.5 million a year to replace the unreturned RPCs.

They decided to use RFID asset tracking technology to help control the situation, choosing Honeywell IF61 readers, along with the corresponding labels, antennas, and printers.

Tremendous Cost Savings

Packaged foods are still picked and loaded into the RPCs like before, but each one now has an RFID label that can be read and processed to keep track of inventory. At the same time they instituted the RFID solution, they also turned to longer-lasting plastic boxes.

Mission Foods has saved $700,000 in packaging costs since making the move, and that nearly 100 percent RPC replacement rate has now dropped to just 4 percent. The company plans to bring the RFID solution to all of its 25 warehouses and plants. They are also planning a notification system that will communicate directly with distributors to let them know they have unreturned containers. In the meantime, the fact that their independent distributors know they are using tracking technology has given them additional motivation to ensure they return RPCs on time.

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