Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Zhang, Guoqing


Automotive supply-chain, Closed loop, Container, Discrete Event Simulation, RFID




Returnable containers are a critical factor to ensure quality of manufacturing operations in the automotive industry. However, containers management is still affected by chronic issues, such as containers shortage, losses or inefficient handling. Research and industry experts agree the “Achilles’s heel” of current practice is the lack of accurate and timely data about containers flow throughout the complex automotive supply chain. Moreover, containers handling operations still rely on manual operations. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that allows for automatic extraction of items flow data at key points along the supply chain, without the need of manual operations, and represents a very interesting solution for returnable containers management. RFID has already been employed in many different sectors, since giants as Wal-Mart or the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense adopted it for their supply-chain. Several approaches have been adopted in literature to explore potential applications of this technology, but few studies focus on automotive returnable containers management. In this work, a Discrete-Event Simulation (DES) approach is proposed to evaluate the impact of RFID on automotive returnable containers supply chain. The model has been developed in collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Applying factorial design and ANOVA relevant benefits of using RFID have been identified. The same model has been used to define main influencing factors in containers supply chain performance.