Robert Wiseman is exploring whether it can build a business case for radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging by using it to keep tabs on roll cages used to deliver milk to stores.
The company's RFID technical specialist Anna Holmes said Wiseman was spending between £500,000 and £1M on new roll cages every year because they were not being returned from stores.
The cages were frequently used by retailers to handle other stock, mistakenly returned to rival dairies, stolen from backyards, and even used to burn rubbish, said Holmes. "We are having to buy thousands of new roll cages every year."
Tagging the cages with RFID labels could help Wiseman monitor exactly what was being despatched to customers so that it could follow up with individual stores when empty cages were not returned, she said.
The technology could also help Wiseman improve customer service and manage its internal supply chain by tracking how long milk had been held in particular parts of the business before despatch, she claimed.
"We have been conducting trials for several months both internally and from a depot to a couple of stores. Things are going very well at the moment, but we haven't made a decision about a roll out yet."
For customers like Tesco that had already installed RFID readers at selected stores, Wiseman could also send electronic advanced shipping notes to stores expecting deliveries, she added.
When the trucks arrived and RFID tags on the roll cages were read, the data could be checked against the advanced shipping note to see that the right goods had arrived.