How important is traceability for manufacturers?

In manufacturing traceability is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s become compulsory. The request for transparency and accountability is not just a change demanded from industry regulators but is being heavily driven by consumers and the media. Although, this responsibility goes outside the production line and manufacturers are having to respect their part in the chain of responsibility. This means instead of solely considering their production line, they must consider the greater supply chain, from manufacturer to end user.

What’s the importance of traceability?

When the word ‘traceability’ gets used, the first thing that comes to mind for most is product recalls, and in fact better recall management is one of the key benefits of traceability solutions. Having the proper solution in place can ensure defective or unsafe products are quickly located and removed to protect the safety of the end user. These defects don’t have to come from the manufacturing process either. Traceability solutions, such as direct part marking and barcodes are being used by manufacturers in the fight against counterfeiting. Using solutions like these allows manufacturers to guarantee the authenticity of their product. It’s the visibility that traceability allows that not only protects the end user but protects the brand and makes it more difficult for counterfeits to be produced.

How can traceability be achieved?

It is clear traceability is no longer optional for manufacturers, not only from a regulation perspective but as a form of brand protection and reassurance for the consumer. To achieve full traceability, ultimately a system is required that tracks every aspect of the supply chain, from the input of raw material right through to the consumer purchasing the product. It can seem daunting to implement; however, it all starts with barcodes and batch codes.

These components are the foundation of most traceability solutions, as they can store all the information needed to track a product back to its origin. There’s a lot more to it, however in your journey toward traceability barcodes and batch codes are the best place to start. In the event of a recall, any product with the affected batch code or barcode can be easily identified and removed from shelves.

The future for traceability

Traceability as it is today is still in its early stages and there is much more to come as the push for transparency gains momentum. Consumers are becoming more aware of the supply chain, and for the first time wanting to know more about where a product comes from. But not only that, how it’s made, what’s in it, and how to dispose of it, amongst many other questions. The main driver behind this curiosity is the development of a more sustainably aware society, where consumers are more socially conscious and seeking satisfaction from their buying decisions. This means traceability will no longer just be an internal system, but the product’s information will become much more visible in the form of QR codes.

The future holds a great deal of potential for traceability, and as technology develops the way products will be tracked will become more accurate and ubiquitous. For example, nanochips can be utilised to track a product or pallet right through the supply chain, making the receiving and selling of goods a lot more streamlined. The fact of the matter is this is only the beginning of traceability. Although it may seem daunting, it’s not to be feared but embraced, and is something all manufacturers should be working towards.

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