What are the key benefits of tracking and tracing goods through the supply chain?
In a global marketplace and with the increase in demand in the e-commerce arena over the past two years, it’s vital for companies to have visibility into their operations and into their supply chains.
Supply chain traceability allows you to track products from source to consumer. It connects all the points in your chain together, keeping you in control of your brand and costs. It allows you to know in an instant which companies, products and processes your whole supply chain consist of, how they relate to each other and how they perform. Supply chain tracking is also vital to the sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts of many companies and organisations.
The first stage in any tracking and tracing solution is to determine what you need to accomplish. Do you need a tracking solution to meet regulatory requirements, to track inventory or to cut back on waste? Failing to define what data you need to collect first will likely cause the entire initiative to fail.
This where technology and data have a key place to play in any track & trace solution. Recording data is essential to any solution.
Renovotec & Datalogic offer the most comprehensive portfolio of products and solutions to deploy traceability systems. There is a solution for every need in the supply chain, from simple handheld barcode scanners, powerful mobile computers to complete solutions connecting and sharing data with your supply chain. Datalogic’s innovative wireless charging in the latest products is an important step forward. There are no contacts to clean, less maintenance needed, and the cost of owning these products is lower.
So why is data so important in traceability solutions?
Traceability depends upon detailed data about the status and movement of goods. To be able to achieve this, the goods must be marked with unique codes and identifiers to be able to track each element at any stage in the supply chain. One of the key reasons why goods are marked with unique identifiers is to ensure companies comply with safety legislation and enable quality assurance. The data can contain details such as place of manufacture, place of origin, type of item or best before date. Besides the data needed to meet regulations, there are new factors to consider, for example whether the item is sustainable?
As the data to be captured continues to grow, and the need to store more data, companies are using more and more 2D barcodes, or QR codes, as they can store more data than 1D. The data can then be printed or embedded on the items, or it may be held in a visual code, such as barcodes, RFID tags, or a laser marked DPM code. All these codes can be read by mobile or fixed scanners to identify these items and capture their details into the company’s systems.
Effective traceability solutions are made up of 4 important parts where the data is logged and recorded at certain stages through the supply chain:
- Tracking – where the goods are and where they are going.
- Tracing – establishing the origins of items or components.
- Control – data linked to an ERP system or a warehouse management system
- Chain of custody – as goods pass from one owner to another
The information is collected from purchase orders, shipping records, batching logs, courier routes and delivery receipts and fed back into the company’s systems for analysis and tracking.
So what are the key benefits of tracking solutions?
The typical benefits for traceability are as follows:
Some of the more surprising benefits of tracking and tracing solutions include:
Reduction in waste
If you have the ability to follow materials and products as they travel through your plant and your supply chain, you can identify areas of waste. Waste is one of the biggest cost factors for manufacturers. Pinpointing problem areas will benefit your entire operation and enable you to not only reduce waste but also reduce your costs making your business for efficient and profitable.
The ability to check your raw materials usage
With the cost of raw materials rapidly increasing, efficiency is key. To cut down on your expenses, you need to eliminate any unnecessary buffer materials. Companies use business systems to monitor their raw materials, but these systems assume a standard amount of materials. Instead of maintaining a ‘safety stock,’ manufacturers can track their actual usage and find answers to questions such as ‘How much water are we really using?’.
Tracking is important when you have custom manufacturing. If for example you usually make custom tops with specific logos, need to be sure that the right product is going to the right person at the right time. Boosting customer satisfaction can help you keep an edge over your competitors.
‘Green’ is becoming a bigger part of consumers’ purchasing decisions and corporate social responsibility is becoming a larger concern for companies. More and more customers want to the companies they do business with to be environmentally friendly. Tracking their carbon footprint throughout their supply chain is a key measure as companies continue to become more environmentally conscious.
While supply chain tracking and visibility isn’t a regulatory requirement for all companies, it’s a beneficial system worth considering, especially since the data & analytics collected from RFID technology and other mobile solutions can provide you with valuable insight into customer patterns and behaviours. Companies who aren’t committed to a traceability solution may find themselves falling behind when it comes to maintaining accurate inventory or responding to customer needs and expectations.
Datalogic offer a complete portfolio of barcode readers, mobile computers, sensors for detection, measurement and safety, RFID, vision and laser marking systems, in conjunction with Renovotec’s services providing a complete traceability solution from beginning to end.
Supply chain risk management is driven by supply chain visibility, and this can only occur when every item (and associated movement) is tracked along the supply chain. With advancements in technology and customers embracing the digital world, it makes sense for companies to implement a solution that not only provides valuable data and analytics, but also allows for a more comprehensive and efficient business operation.
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