Reverse logistics refers to the management of 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 a bad product or just decide they do not need it.

Although returns take into account a big proportion of online sales in lots of industries, companies fearing bad publicity are reluctant to discuss them. Because of this, reverse logistics gets little discussion. However, it can have enormous implications towards the smooth and efficient running of a business.

Key elements of reverse logistics – There are a number of key components to effective reverse logistics. To maintain customers happy, online retailers (known as 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 shop with an e-retailer.

It is also important to minimise the price of reverse logistics to some business. A good way to achieve this is always to manage the retention or disposal of returned products. This is called asset recovery.

Asset recovery – E-retailers place returned products into action categories to recover costs. These usually include:

1. Restock – unopened products which can go straight back into inventory

2. Repackage for sale – opened goods in “as new” condition appropriate for repackaging and resale

3. Repair/recondition for sale – faulty products appropriate for repair and resale in a lower cost

4. Come back to vendor – items to be returned to the original vendor or manufacturer for credit or exchange

5. Scrap – products with little if any recovery vale

The challenges of asset recovery include sorting items in to these categories, updating inventories instantly, 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 best 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 those to determine their asset recovery value, and designate appropriate action categories. Products 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 deliver items to specific destinations for additional processing. Destinations include facilities for all the action categories, including repackaging areas and waste collection sites.

Identifying parcel labels – Automated sortation systems utilize one of two types of technology used to identify parcel labels: traditional laser scanners and camera based machine vision systems. Lasers depend on barcodes, and have been employed to scan parcels 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) methods to interpret these images.

Users can configure camera systems with multiple units to photograph approximately six sides of the parcel. What this means is the label can maintain any orientation on these faces.

Some great benefits of camera systems – Read rates are essential towards the efficient running of the automated sortation system. When connected to a videocoding system, a facility that enables 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 will make them tough and sturdy – ideal 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 further processing. They reduce costs and stop loading docks becoming jammed with thousands, sometimes even countless pounds amount of returned merchandise. Automated sortation systems are a highly beneficial, cost effective solution for e-retailers under pressure to reduce budgets and meet efficiency, productivity, and throughput targets.

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