Bringing control to the supply chain: how data scanning helped CHEP and its customers 

CHEP UK Limited is the invisible backbone of the global supply chain, enabling retailers and manufacturers to efficiently move their goods from A to B without needing to maintain their own inventory of handling equipment. The global leader, CHEP invented the concept of equipment pooling, now employing over 11,000 people in 750 service centres around the world.

The challenge

CHEP’s purpose is to remove complexity for their customers through its Managed Exchange (ME) programme, a circular approach to supply chain logistics.

Through the ME programme, CHEP processes a collection of pallets between two of its customers – typically a manufacturer and a retailer – and this is carried out by a transporter who is not a subcontractor. This means that CHEP does not touch or see these pallets at any point in the Managed Exchanged process, so finding opportunities to make the process even more efficient than when CHEP collected the equipment itself was a challenge – and one that Crown rose to.

CHEP realised that the existing system of following up and reconciling checked out equipment with paper-based Proof of Deliveries (PODs) was leading to a significant time lag between pallet collection and invoice reconciliation, with customers having to spend time dealing with their equipment.

The solution

Crown Records Management was commissioned to design a new digital solution for the ME programme to bring greater transparency to the supply chain.

Crown’s Digital Services team implemented a new system, which saw PODs scanned on a daily basis, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) to automatically extract printed text and handwritten data from five key data fields.  

The scanned images are hosted on Crown’s Secure Image Hosting system where CHEP can view them and share any scanned POD with their customers quickly and efficiently.  

The system also creates and automatically exports an Excel spreadsheet, which can be filtered to display any PODs showing a discrepancy, enabling CHEP to correctly invoice customers for the balance. 

The results

  • Control has been brought to the supply chain – retailers and manufacturers now have an accurate invoice and up to date balances.
     
  • Improved efficiency – it now takes just 10 days to confirm pallet collections compared to many weeks previously.
     
  • Customers now spend far less time dealing with their pallets, leading to enhanced client relationships and satisfaction levels.

"This is a great step forward for our vision for CHEP to be easy, because it just works. This new capability is going to substantially reduce the time our customers spend validating paperwork.  It will also allow us to organise a better collection service for retail customers that keeps their yards clear and site traffic to a minimum.”

Stephen Egli, Customer Operations Director, CHEP UK Ltd