Coles digitalises their supply chain with smart bins

Loscam’s purpose-built track and trace solution powered by Thinxtra’s 0G Network optimises the resilience of Coles’ poultry supply chain while reducing equipment losses.

The Challenge

Coles Australia issued a tender to logistics service providers for a solution that could reduce the risk of lost food bins, monitor when equipment is mishandled, improve pooling of assets for transit, and increase stock turnaround.

The Solution

Loscam and Thinxtra partner to innovate an IoT-powered track and trace solution, deploying 4,500 smart and foldable food bins. The IoT devices communicate location and condition data to Coles using Thinxtra’s national, public 0G Network, via LoscamOnline, a specialised tracking platform.

The Benefits

The combined IoT solution has enabled Coles to optimise transport routes and equipment pooling based on usage patterns. This reduces the cost of the asset pool required by 25 per cent, tripling the amount of empty bins returned, reducing cost and waste.

In 2021, Australian supermarket giant Coles announced a major digital transformation strategy, which includes increasing the resilience of its critical supply chains, such as the Protein Cold Chain, responsible for sourcing and stocking poultry.

The goal was to reduce the number of food bins it loses, understand whether and where these assets are being damaged, improve pooling of equipment for transit, and ultimately increase stock turnaround.

Coles deployed a world first Internet of Things (IoT) supply chain solution from Loscam and Thinxtra to track the location of and monitor shock events for 4,500 smart food bins moving poultry between their supplier processing facility sites and its distribution centre.

“We partnered with Loscam to deploy a purpose-built device and portal system with Thinxtra connectivity, tailored to the specific needs of our Protein Cold Chain department, giving us full visibility into our supply chain operations in real time. This is a crucial step to retain our customer-focused, quality-driven service that’s reflected in our supermarkets.”

Larry Kavanagh,
General Manager National Meat Processing at Coles

Digitalising the supply chain

The combined IoT solution has enabled a connected and transparent supply chain with timely insights into geolocation, geofencing, shock impact events, temperature, and bin status, and allows Coles to optimise transport routes and equipment pooling based on usage patterns.

“The smart food bins ensure that we can track the poultry from the moment they are loaded by our suppliers at their processing sites, right through to the time they reach our distribution centre, reinforcing our food safety standards, while saving time and minimising waste,” said Larry Kavanagh, General Manager National Meat Processing, Coles.

Loscam and Thinxtra’s IoT solution provides data for each individual smart food bin, rather than just the trucks transporting them. Coles can therefore view the location of each individual asset in transit, and receives alerts when food bins aren’t where they should be and any time there is an impact, including when bins are mishandled. This reduces unnecessary damages and creates accountability for stock quality supported by reliable real-time data.

img-loscam-Daniel Bunnett

“Historical location device solutions generally fell well short of market expectations and needs. With a complex large-scale organisation like Coles, IoT has introduced the capabilities of asset management beyond traditional RFID or GPS tracking, with sensors that can provide insights to optimise logistical operations. Powered by the national Thinxtra 0G Network, our IoT devices give Coles a sustainable, more efficient way of transporting perishable poultry produce, and managing its returnable industrial packaging, all while reducing resource waste.”

Daniel Bunnett,
Executive Vice President A/NZ at Loscam

IoT device for food bins

Reducing waste and supporting ESG objectives

In addition, the ability to monitor asset performance, including temperature levels, creates assurance for the quality of food. This plays a major role in eliminating waste, and helps Coles maintain safe conditions during transit with the lowest possible energy consumption to support its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives.

Daniel Bunnett, Executive Vice President for Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) at Loscam, said, “We support nearly 4,000 customers across the region in operations that have historically had a cost-down focus. As a key supplier, we have an obligation to create efficiencies to focus on return on investment (ROI) instead. Working with Thinxtra, we have been able to bring these benefits to our customers, and move away from only conversations about losses, mismanagement and pricing, to focus on consolidation of volumes, timely data, tracking and notifications for timely changes.”

The innovative combination of foldable food bins and IoT technology reduces the cost of the asset pool required by 25 per cent, tripling the amount of empty bins returned reducing cost and waste.

Coles selected Loscam as the company’s solution proved more innovative and cost-effective than competing tracking. The IoT technology is fast and simple to install and does not require up-front infrastructure setup investment. The devices are also battery-powered, with a life of up to five years, giving them the ability to operate independently of any power source.

In partnership with Thinxtra, Loscam’s world first IoT solution demonstrates the logistics company isn’t limited to the status quo of asset management.

Nicholas Lambrou Thinxtra's CEO

“Coles, as an iconic Australian brand, has been able to deploy Internet of Things technology to achieve economic viability and operational scalability through streamlining its critical supply chain operations. The IoT-powered smart food bins give full traceability of quality assurance and efficiency within the protein cold chain, all the while saving Coles business costs by avoiding unnecessary damages and better pooling equipment for transport.”

Nicholas Lambrou,
Chief Executive Officer at Thinxtra

Truck loaded with smart bins that are tracked through the supply chain

About Loscam

Loscam is a trusted name of providing pooling and returnable packaging solutions for use in supply chains. Operating in 12 regions throughout the Asia Pacific, Loscam is focused on delivering high-quality, innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions and fit-for-purpose systems and procedures to the local markets. This dedication has led Loscam to hold a leading market position in various sectors, including manufacturing retail supply chains.

For more information, please visit Loscam’s website.

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