Keeping Pace with Track and Trace
US businesses inventories have topped $1 trillion for the last several years. Keeping track of all of those goods and the assets associated with them is increasingly important to the owners of both the inventory and the trucks, containers, and other assets deployed along the supply chain.
Product safety issues have focused more attention on the ability tolocate and remove or recall product that is already in the distribution cycle. Coupled with security issues and regulations mandating some industry segments to maintain complete control of products they manufacture and distribute, the task is huge and growing.
Fortunately, for logistics and supply chain managers, technology exists to support their efforts. The issues include controlling supply chains,managing the chain of custody, improving recalls, and being compliant with government regulations, explains Jack Walsh, director of sales for Videojet. “For us, track and trace is not just knowing where the case or pallet is but also what was in that case—that’s the new wave in the market,” says Walsh. Most people know where they ship a case, but once that case or pallet is broken down, theydon’t have visibility to specific items that were shipped.
Most people have systems to track where they ship a pallet or even a case, Walsh continues. There’s no reason to replace that system. Videojet’s approach is to create the parent/child relationship between the item and the case.
“The simple approach is to use two systems in tandem and connect them—at the file level on the software side,” saysWalsh. At the mechanical level, there are a number of ways the parent/child relationship occurs. In-line scanning or cameras help inside the facility. “You may have to modify production to automate batching to collect the data,” he points out. You won’t be able to get the parent/child data with just one piece of equipment, it’s a combination of some software, some production line control, andcameras and printing equipment to make that happen, explains Walsh.
Many manufacturers don’t have visibility beyond the first shipping location, he points out. Radio frequency identification (RFID) isn’t going to help at the item level once the case or pallet has been received and broken down at a distributor’s or retailer’s facility, he suggests. Other technologies such as bar codes (including 2dimensional bar codes) and human readable labels that help associate individual items with their “parent” case or pallet and a database containing that information can support item-level visibility. An Internetbased database can provide various levels of access to those records for the original manufacturer or importer and its supply chain partners.
A critical link is to require distributors to keepaccurate records, says Walsh. That’s the way the e-pedigree laws are set up. The records can be electronic or paper, and you don’t have to share databases, he points out. What is important is that the items can be tracked through the supply chain should that become necessary. At points along the supply chain where having real time access to location and status information is beneficial,technologies come together to support that need. If controlling counterfeiting, loss, and product diversion is a goal, some covert technologies can also be employed, though suppliers such as Videojet are reluctant to provide much detail on those methods publicly (they and other suppliers will discuss them in confidential meetings with supply chain managers).
For a sense of some of the applications andbenefits users are deriving from current and developing technologies, here are some current examples.
A test of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) in the Dutch food supply chain may have helped prove the viability of using the technology to improve track and trace capabilities and provide an acceptable return on investment. Begun in 2005, a pilot “fresh chain” project used 2,500...
Lire le document complet
Veuillez vous inscrire pour avoir accès au document.