Track and trace technologies are more important than ever before. Pressure to cut costs whilst improving efficiencies are only increasing. This – alongside preventing contamination and cyber-attacks can be challenging. Enter – track and trace technologies with the ability to minimise risk and improve transparency. More and more companies are looking to integrate advanced track and trace technologies to gain better control over their supply chains, from picking and packing to delivery.
Visibility and traceability are fundamental to the supply chain. By increasing these through track and trace, businesses can achieve a level of efficiency which is simply not possible without it.
There are now a number of technologies available for tracking food. They include coatings for seeds, DNA alterations in the food and other taggants that uniquely encoded materials or chemistries that are impossible to duplicate. These technologies can be combined with authenticators including smartphones, infrared, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and barcode readers to create a system that can track and monitor food chains in real-time.
The supply chain
More industrial organisations are also integrating proven Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for their industrial and supply chain applications. These smart industrial devices allow manufacturers to obtain real-time data through the internet, using the analytics to alert them when conditions warrant it.
IoT technology is perfect suited to supply chain track and trace applications. The more companies who participate in inputting data into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) architecture, the more value that can be gained in the decision-making process.
Blockchain technologies are also becoming more common to increase the transparency of products across the supply chain. Blockchain accumulates data into a “block” that all participants can view as the food is transported from a to b. Transactions are accumulated in an encrypted “block”, with new entries added as they occur to form a chain. This means that timestamps and transaction data are recorded and stored securely.
Each block of data provides information about activities occurring across the supply chain, enabling companies to determine if a product has been tampered with or damaged.
Blockchain technology has the potential to completely remake how the industry tracks food worldwide. The technology facilities full end-to-end traceability, establishing a trusted chain of data that can be easily analysed.
Together, IIoT and blockchain technologies can capture data throughout the supply chain. Applications that are built on IIoT platforms can support the implementation of specific track and trace use cases. Additionally, companies are able to utilise private track and trace repository and blockchain management applications to select what information they want to share – and more importantly, with who.
This gives logistics managers greater control and visibility of their data, vastly improving security, privacy and accuracy. For example, they can share important information such as whether it is organic, high quality or gluten free with vendors.
Ultimately, IoT, cloud applications, analytics and blockchain are crucial in enabling businesses to increase their market response time and profitability by expanding production visibility, flexibility and scalability.
Guest article written by Eduard Marfa, EMEA Marketing Director at Siemens PLM Software.