How Traceability Software will Bring More Accountability to Supply Chain & Customer Grievances

Sameer Parekh, Director, QodeNext Qode Next is Mumbai-based IT Services company offering a wide array of cutting-edge solutions that include Automatic Data Capture Solutions, Traceability, Technology Consulting, Warehouse Management, Vendor Management, Truck & Yard Management, Warranty Tracking, and many others.

Even today, companies have a multiplex supply chain with un-integrated suppliers, independent warehouses and plants, disconnected ERP, outsourced distribution, creating a complex web of accountability and minimal visibility on the origins and authenticity of the end products. A simple mis labelling mistake in the supply chain can result severe customer grievances that can have long term effects on brand trust. Furthermore, product recalls and counterfeit proliferation are becoming more prevalent across all industries and negatively impacting brand perception, profitability and share price. Customers, businesses and governments are demanding greater traceability with regards to supplier quality levels, production standards, health norms, government regulations and environmental guidelines.

Traceability is defined as a solution that has the ability to trace the digital footprint of the product through entire product life cycle from the origin of raw material, manufacturing, finished goods, distribution to the end customer. Essentially, trace ability is the process to Print item wise unique identifiers (UID), Validate codes, Aggregate parent-child mapping and Analyze data. Companies who are able to successfully implement traceability would have a significant competitive advantage with increased business intelligence, greater accountability, higher customer satisfaction, improved brand trust and increased sales.

To break it down, visibility at each level of distribution chain needs to be established using Print-Validate-Aggregate-Analyze methodology. Printing is done by marking each unit with random UID of a predefined format, based on our proprietary algorithm. Following which, online validation of the variable data printed on product packaging along with the barcode is validated to ensure that the data is readable all along the distribution channels. The aggregation is done from raw material,to WIP to finished goods along the product line to track the digital footsteps of each individual product. This aggregation of information is also done using Sequencing to implement comprehensive Parent-Child part mapping.
The upstream and downstream traceability analysis is only possible with the complete integration of the various facets of the supply chain. You will need a combination of software modules including Vendor Management, Inventory Management, Work-in-Process Management, Warehouse Management, Truck Management, and Customer Protection Management to facilitate the complete traceability.

It is becoming not only possible but also essential to implement complete traceability across both upstream and downstream supply chain to establish trust and maintain brand reputation

The Vendor Management module that brings all your suppliers, co-vendors and vendors on a platform that is integrated with your ERP. With the ability to host live details on order status, UID, dispatch details, deliveries, time based alerts and escalation; there is complete source visualization in the system. Using this technology, there is greater traceability with regards to the sources of raw materials and complete back-tracing in case of any challenges. This module integrates downwards with the Inventory Management solution which uses the UID of the product to automate the cycle counting, stock reconciliation and adherence to FIFO/FEFO.

Next, Work-in-Process Management is critical in tracking components at part, bin or batch level as they get consumed on production floor. The module allows users to track speed, accuracy and quality at each level of shop floor. Additionally, this solution helps in tracking QC reject components and parts, which results in reduction of recalls and holding independent suppliers responsible to higher quality standards.

Warehouse Management has become an integral part of the supply chain. Goods entry, efficient pick up & put away operations, intelligent location management, faster loading & unloading operations and accurate dispatch greatly reduces material turnaround and documents the digital footprints of the product. Furthermore, the management of company owned and 3rd party trucks coming in and out of the facility is implemented using a Truck Management RFID tracking system to automate Vehicle verification and tracking.

Once you have the comprehensive supply chain tracking infrastructure, Traceability can be taken one step further through Customer Protection Management - Anti-Counterfeit, Recall Management and Warranty Tracking. With regards to anti-counterfeit and recall management, you will need to ensure validation & authentication of products right from raw material till distribution, allowing companies to adhere to required quality standards. While the comprehensive infrastructure of validation would minimize the chances of recalls, nevertheless, any faulty, defective or substandard parts/raw material can be back-traced and the concerned parties can be held accountable. Additionally, in case of counterfeit and products, an automatic alert goes to the manufacturer so that appropriate actions can be taken. The Warranty Tracking enables authentication of a product within warranty in a quick verifiable and accurate manner based on the UID. The solutions works on a simple barcode scanner to provide real-time verification and warranty settlement.

In conclusion, transparency will become a powerful tool for promoting and monitoring corporate accountability. With advances in Technology, it is becoming not only possible but also essential to implement complete traceability across both upstream and downstream supply chain to establish trust and maintain brand reputation. At QodeNext we have developed the comprehensive suite of products to offer complete traceability across your supply chain.