Today, virtually everything is being made in fewer and fewer places. The Internet has given consumers unprecedented access to products ranging from designer handbags to the latest smartphones. But it has also created a new set of problems for manufacturers. These problems aren’t just aesthetic. Every day, manufacturers must navigate a series of cumbersome sourcing processes to source raw materials and final goods from around the world. This can be time-consuming and expensive. In addition, it makes it more difficult for consumers to know where their food is coming from. Fortunately, there are solutions that manufacturers can implement to make their supply chains more traceable and easier for consumers to buy safe products. Implementing them will require companies to address several different factors simultaneously — but the end result will be a more transparent and safer manufacturing system. Let’s take a look at how improving product traceability in manufacturing can improve your company’s reputation, lower costs, and drive efficiency in your operations:
What is product traceability and how does it work?
Traceability is the ability of manufacturers to trace the movement of their products across the supply chain. This is usually achieved through a combination of standardization and technology. Product traceability is the process of identifying the source of a product and establishing a chain of custody for that product throughout the manufacturing process. This may include the identification of the sending and receiving countries and their regulatory authorities. It could also include the identification of the equipment used in the production process and the materials used in that equipment.
How to Improve Product Traceability in Manufacturing
Product traceability is only as good as the processes used to create a traceable product. That means it can only be as good as the technology used to track the movement of products along the supply chain. Technology is only as good as the people who use it. That’s where product traceability comes into play. To improve product traceability, manufacturers must implement a team approach to traceability. Each team in the supply chain must have the necessary technology in place to track the movement of products. There must also be a process for verifying that a tracking device is functioning properly and that the right products have been delivered to the right location. This process is known as tamper-proofing.
Tips for improving product traceability in manufacturing
From a supply chain perspective, the best way to improve product traceability is to standardize the traceability approach across the supply chain. That way, every company in the supply chain uses the same system to trace products and make sure they reach their destination safely. That’s not easy to achieve, though. It requires a centralized traceability system that can be used by all businesses throughout the supply chain. A centralized traceability system would allow manufacturers to centralize the creation, verification, and tracking of product information across the supply chain. It would also make it simpler for consumers to buy safe products because they would only have to deal with one company for each step in the supply chain. To improve the ease of use of a centralized traceability system, manufacturers should consider using a barcode or RFID tracking system. RFID tags are inexpensive, easy to use, and are tags that don’t require an Internet connection to function.
Steps manufacturers can take to improve product traceability
As noted above, implementing a centralized traceability system in the supply chain is the best way to improve product traceability. The problem, though, is that every manufacturer has a different supply chain and therefore a different centralized traceability system. For that reason, manufacturers should consider taking a collaborative approach to product traceability. That means they should work with suppliers that have a similar supply chain to their business to build a common centralized traceability system. Maintain a functioning traceability system. This is the first step to improving product traceability. Your system should be able to identify the location of products at every point in the supply chain. That way, manufacturers can better pinpoint where safety issues or safety risks may be operating in the system. Use a data-driven approach to traceability. Data-driven traceability is the key to improving product traceability. That is, traceability systems must be able to track product movements using relevant data such as: – Product identification information such as model number, make, and color – Environmental data, such as product weight, location, and temperature – Human interaction data, such as product pick and place – and a host of other metadata that allows the system to function correctly and efficiently.
Manufacturers who want to improve their reputation and drive efficiency in their operations will need to improve product traceability. This is easier said than done, though. Everyday, manufacturers are faced with complex sourcing processes and costly mistakes caused by human or equipment error. Improving product traceability in manufacturing can help address these problems and improve consumer safety.