In my line of work, I hear the term “traceability solutions” on a regular basis, but just out of curiosity, I decided to look up an actual definition. 

In general terms, traceability refers to the ability of chronologically verifying every step of an item (by history, location or application)through documented identification within a process chain.  However, I was interested to find that the definition of traceability solutions varies based upon the type of business or industry in which the term is being used.

Some form of traceability is used among a wide variety of industries, including measurement, logistics, supply chain, food & beverage processing, software, materials, coffee, and blood or medical devices. Both government mandates and industry best practices have significant impact on the direction a company takes in their approach to a traceability solution.

In fresh produce processing, for instance, the term traceability takes the definition of recording every step or movement in the product production process by the use of barcodes or RFID tags.  Key to this industry is the ability to react to an outbreak or contamination and the need for an efficient recall, if required.  It is imperative that traceability solutions are closely adhered to so that a company is able to identify the point of contamination, thus addressing safety and potential shut down of the company.

Interesting enough, in the supply chain, traceability solutions are more of an ethical or environmental issue, as opposed to the mandates we see within the food industry.  Many companies share their supply chain process with customers, providing evidence that the products they sell are manufactured in safe working conditions with fair compensation for workers, as well as abiding by environmental mandates.

Regardless of the exact definition, it is apparent that there is a lot to think about when deploying a new system or upgrading a legacy system.  Asking questions about where you stand today is a good place to start.

  1. Are we prepared to pass an SQF audit with our current process?
  2. Can we trace our raw materials and ingredients to their sources?
  3. Do we know where our products are in the supply chain?
  4. Have we added hierarchy management into our workflow, complying with serialization at the pallet and itemized level?
  5. Are we looking at new ways to lower our costs by adding additional barcode technology to decrease human time and errors?”

Please read more about traceability solutions if you’re looking for help in staying on top of the best practices for your company workflow and traceability methodology.

Traceability Solutions - barcode scanning and tracking