Sustainable Tracking of RTIs thanks to RFID

Logistics services provider Recalo monitors its pool of returnable transport items (RTI) with a track and trace solution from Turck Vilant Systems and thus reduces its customers' CO2 footprint

Recalo offers its customers the possibility of pooling returnable load carriers, the so-called returnable transport items or RTIs. To always know where a particular load carrier is currently located in the cycle, the company relies on an RFID tracking system from Turck Vilant Systems, which ensures the transparency required for the exact provision of the service to each customer via interfaces to the ERP. To ensure maximum truck utilization, the system even shows employees how high the stacks of boxes need to be in order to make optimum use of the loading capacity. Thanks to this efficiency and the long service life of the RTIs, the Recalo solution effectively reduces its customers' carbon footprint.

  • The stacked RTIs are fully logged when the truck passes through the gate when the truck is loaded

  • Turck Vilant Client shows whether the truck is filled with correct boxes at the correct stacking height

  • The returnable load carriers are cleaned automatically in the washing system

  • Recalo can respond to fluctuations in demand from its customers and deliver in a short space of time

  • The boxes are designed in such a way that the loading volume of the trucks is always optimally utilized

  • Daniel van der Vorst, Recalo: “I immediately noticed that TVS understood our processes and problems.''

German restaurants and catering businesses have been required by law since January 2023 to use reusable containers. Businesses that offer food and drinks to take away or as a delivery service must offer reusable packaging as an alternative to disposable plastic packaging. This regulation is not yet in force in industrial sectors. Disposable packaging and load carriers, whether made of wood, plastic, paper or metal, are often still the order of the day in this sector. The problems associated with the ecological consequences of this practice are obvious. Plastic packaging and stretch film in particular, which is wrapped around the load like oversized cling film, can rarely be recycled. Disposable packaging also often does not meet the hygiene requirements of the food and consumer goods industry.

Returnable load carriers as a sustainable logistics solution 

You don't always need legislation to make things better. Recalo GmbH in Laatzen near Hannover is proof of this. “The core of our business is the pooling of returnable transport items,” explains managing director Daniel van der Vorst. “Sustainability is the focus of our business model. This means that we ensure optimum utilization of our truck transports by using returnable load carriers that are optimized for the load capacities of the trucks. The aim is to achieve maximum output with minimum handling and transportation, i.e. to offer our customers the best possible service using as few resources as possible.”

Efficiency benefit in the pooling system

In logistics, returnable load carriers are often referred to as returnable transport items or RTIs for short. Customers use the full service provided by Recalo. The pooling operator sends cleaned and reconditioned RTIs to its customers. These customers use the RTIs to ship their own supplier products and components. Once the RTIs have been dispatched, Recalo organizes the return of the load carriers and takes care of all further processes. 

The customer therefore saves the investment in RTIs and has nothing to do with the management, cleaning and repair of returnable load carriers. Peaks in demand can also be bridged at short notice. The RTIs in the pooling system are always in circulation and never stand around unused for long. Thanks to its close network of logistics partners and customers, Recalo can organize the return of the pallets very efficiently and make optimum use of its trucks. 

Tailored transport solution 

The company also develops specific load carriers for its customers, such as a collapsible plastic box with a divider shelf, which halves the pressure on the lower boxes and thus prevents unsightly deformation and problems with automatic removal. This box is based on the footprint of a Euro pallet and is almost one meter high when opened out. After unloading, it can be collapsed and is then only 30 centimeters high with the same footprint, including the divider shelf. The boxes are designed so that the transport space of the truck can always be filled up to the edge of the load – both with the boxes opened out and collapsed. 

RFID system for complete process transparency

Recalo therefore uses a hybrid solution and equips its pallets with labels that combine barcodes and RFID UHF tags. The hybrid tag enables every Recalo load carrier to be clearly and efficiently identified by the system, regardless of which technology is used at the respective location. Van der Vorst spoke to the track and trace specialists from Turck Vilant Systems for the first time at a trade fair. “I noticed straight away that Turck Vilant really understood the processes and the problems we face. It was important for us to have an internationally based company as a partner, so that support for our overseas locations is also guaranteed”, says the managing director, describing his reasons.

Turck Vilant Systems developed a complete system for Recalo consisting of RFID read/write points that are operated via the Turck Vilant Client middleware. They are used to carry out central tasks such as the checking in or out of an RTI in the pool. This data is then processed by the Turck Vilant Visibility Manager. This server application provides fully automated loading control in close communication with Recalo's ERP system. This full integration of shipment verification with the ERP system was crucial to the success of the solution.


Not every site in Europe has yet been fully equipped with the RFID track and trace solution from Turck Vilant Systems. This is set to change in the coming months and years in order to close the gaps in other European countries. “We will definitely continue to expand the system. It is essential for us to know where our returnable load carriers are at any given time. This means that we will also successively equip our overseas locations with RFID technology so that we have the greatest possible transparency in the flow of goods,” concludes Daniel van der Vorst.

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