How we’re protecting your health and safety COVID-19 Update

Become a Manufacturer of the Future with Track-and-Trace

Sep 23, 2021 by Mark Dingley

Learn how to mitigate risk and build brand trust through the real-life experiences of some of Australia’s favourite dairy businesses

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Long recognised for its ability to protect against counterfeiters and facilitate more effective recalls, track-and-trace is being used by manufacturers of today to better see and manage their production facility’s entire ecosystem. Plus, it can help to make smarter manufacturing a reality.

Before delving into track-and-trace's benefits, however, here’s a quick recap of how it works:

In short, it enables you to identify and track a product, from its point of origin through the supply chain all the way to the end consumer. To achieve this, unique identification is required at all levels of the packaging – specifically the item, the carton and the pallet.

This is where GS1 Standards, along with relevant identification technology solutions, come into play. When each product has been uniquely identified and labelled, rest assured that information will be exchanged at every step of the process with trading partners (from manufacturing through to the consumer).

Track and Trace

How, then, can track-and-trace help create the ‘factory of the future’?

Better transparency

A track-and-trace system will give you better visibility, as it’s able to record virtually every movement and operation. A transaction is recorded in the system every single time an action takes place in production. What this means is that any defective products and processes can be caught before being shipped, which saves you time, money and protects against damage to your reputation.

Track-and-trace will allow for faster and more effective recalls on the off-chance that a defective product manages to make it into the marketplace. You will be able to focus the recall directly on the product that is impacted.

Supplier checks

Use track-and-trace to reduce the chances of defective products making their way into the market from the get go. With consumers demanding increased product variety, the demand for a range of ingredients is also on the increase.

Suppliers will be able to use track-and-trace to demonstrate proof points from origin, all whilst understanding which components have gone into which product variants. Ingredient providers or producers will also be able to verify that ingredients are what they’re claiming to be, plus that the means of getting them there was both compliant and safe.

Drive production efficiencies

Track-and-trace can be used to reveal efficiency potential within your processes. The integrated equipment of today can be used to collect data throughout a product’s journey, then store it in a single central database before attributing each data set on every single package to an individual code.

As the system collects data at all stages of a product’s journey, manufacturers will be able to benefit from complete line monitoring. You’ll be able to find out production rates, wastage, energy consumption, bottlenecks and so on. This information can then be used to maximise your plant’s overall efficiency whilst cutting operational costs.

Essentially, we’re talking about here is an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The data you’ve captured using sensors and scanners spaced along the production line will enable you to pick up on any inefficiencies and problems faster, helping you to improve your operations, product quality and overall supply chain efficiency.

Faster & easier compliance

An ongoing challenge for manufacturers, staying compliant with the industry’s increasingly stringent standards is essential – particularly if you’re planning to export overseas. In Asian markets, for example, traceability is becoming increasingly important. Government regulations actually demand traceability for food products from point-of-harvest through to point-of-sale. Here in Australia, on the other hand, the Food Standards Code requires the ability for items to be traced ‘one step forward and one step back’.

Leading manufacturers aren’t simply complying with regulatory safety requirements – they're aiming for exceptional quality, which distinguishes them from the competition. How could you elevate your standards using track-and-trace?

Protect against theft & counterfeiting

Future growth depends on both the safety and integrity of the manufacturer’s supply chains, as does the trust in their brand. Even so, counterfeiting is increasingly becoming an issue for the food and beverage industry – particularly in Asia. For example - David Blackmore, the Wagyu beef king, has found that counterfeit beef was being sold to a number of five-star Shanghai hotels using his brand. Another example – Chinese police recently seized 14,000 fake Penfolds wine bottles that were being sold by counterfeiters.

As well as hurting your profits, counterfeit products can also do everlasting damage to your brand plus put consumers in danger. A great example of how to address safety and the risks posed by fraud is Camperdown Dairy International. They adopted a ground breaking platform, which allows Chinese consumers to use their smartphones to quickly check a products’ authenticity and provenance. With food safety a top concern and the counterfeiting of Australian products in China rife, this platform has given Camperdown a big competitive advantage.

Build consumer trust

Being able to track a product’s journey from the farm to the consumer is a great defence for good food safety management, as well as providing an opportunity for food companies to build up loyalty and trust.

Global confectionary brand, Ferraro, is another company that’s getting this right – they've committed to achieving 100% traceability by 2020 when it comes to their hazelnut supply chain. What this will mean is that you can rest assured that every hazelnut the company uses will be of the finest quality, as well as has been responsibly farmed.

Improve inventory

Track-and-trace can help to optimise manufacturing efficiencies by increasing inventory accuracy and forecasting, which also enables better production planning. Knowing your inventory levels across the supply chain can actually make inventory planning and management more efficient for each production centre in your repertoire. Track-and-trace systems can generate data sets over time that show patterns, which will allow manufacturers to optimise production efficiency as well as anticipate shifts in demand.

Just In Time (or JIT) shipments will also be possible. Manufacturers won’t need to keep as many components or sub-assembly materials on hand, which equals lower storage costs. Suppliers will instead be able to anticipate manufacturer needs, enabling them to deliver materials as needed when it comes to meeting production cycle requirements. What you essentially get is a more dynamic and intuitive supply chain.

Conclusion

Besides creating a defence against counterfeiters and recalls, track-and-trace is about taking the opportunity to improve your consumer trust, efficiency, operations and quality. All of this combines to put you at a real competitive advantage.