Appolis, Inc.

Manufacturing and Distribution Product Traceability

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Manufacturing and Distribution Product Traceability

Traceability within Distribution and Manufacturing is the ability to identify various product issues that may arise during business operations.   These product issues can range from product contamination (example: food recalls) to product labeling or packaging issues.    Traceability allows organizations to quickly identify these products and either rework or notify others of these issues.   Many of these issues are now becoming mandated by certain industries or government organizations.

Definition of traceability: “ability to trace the history, application, or location of that which is under consideration.” (as defined by ISO – International Organization for Standardization)

Business software solutions, like warehouse management systems, allow businesses to quickly and more accurately identify and report on any of these product issues.   One of the first hurdles most organizations encounter when they attempt to implement business software solutions to automate their product traceability initiative is to what degree does their business require traceability.    The degree to which they require traceability drives how the data is collected, when the data is collected and exactly what data will be collected. 

Let us look a little closer at each.

“How the data is collected” will drive how the information is utilized within the organization.   If the data is manually collected and data entered into the business system – then additional errors (from manual processes will be added) and there will be a lag time on the reporting against this information.   The steps in the process will also help determine the possible methods or collection.

“When the data is collected” will drive who will be involved and how the system interaction will occur.   Can the information be collected and reported on in the right amount of time to support the company’s traceability objectives?

“What data is collected” will be based on the company’s overall traceability goals.    The breadth, depth and precision of the data will depend upon the company’s traceability goals, requirements, production requirements and their overall physical environment constraints.  Companies cannot afford to capture every detail within their process (both due to time and costs of the system requirements) so they need to carefully determine what data is most relevant based upon their company’s traceability objectives.

Software solutions themselves do not solve the traceability issue, they help company’s optimize the timing and the amount of information they can gather.   Company’s who define their requirements based on their unique traceability objectives achieve the greatest value from their implemented software solutions.  It is the reduction in errors and the speed at which a product trace can be executed that ultimately drives the value and/or the intended cost avoidance for Distributors and Manufacturers.

By Jim Willems, President Appolis

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2 questions

  1. Dan Kage says:

    I am looking for traceability software for manufacturing.
    I would like to have traceability for product. Two mehtods.
    1) trace product by the work cell.
    2) trace product by the job ticket. Bar codes would be printed on the job ticket and operator would scan.

    I would also like to track the employee hours and production rates.
    We are a small shop any suggestions.

  2. Chuck Pate says:

    @Dan Kage,
    Dan, did you ever get an answer to your question. I know of a couple of solutions that meet this requirement. Some are very simple cell based solutions and others support RFID as the trace-ability trigger.

    Chuck Pate

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