What is Product Traceability?
Product traceability is the process of being able to identify and track items throughout the supply chain. Knowing where products come from and who it’s being sold to will help with product recalls, identifying illegitimate products and can assist with quality control. Traceability is done through the use of Lot and Serial numbers associated to each product or each batch of products. You may see barcode stickers on fruits and veggies but that is not just for scanning the product when you buy it. These numbers hold quite a bit of information for the retailer but also the distributor and manufacturer. For example, distributors in the Food and Pharmaceutical industries are especially responsible for tracking products as a way to protect public health.
Why is Product Traceability important?
The Canadian government requires anyone that manufactures, distributes, imports, exports, stores or sells food, to trace at least one step back and one step forward.
In the USA, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act address the concerns for fast and effective tracking and tracing of foods.
A food recall can have extensive complications as the public must be notified immediately and products needs to be pulled from shelves. With a distributor selling to over 100 grocery stores nationwide, it can be extremely difficult to manage which specific products needs to be managed. Within the pharmaceutical industry, it has also become increasingly difficult to track illegitimate products from entering the supply chain through the opioid crisis which causes major disruption to public safety. This is where lot and serial numbers come into play.
How to Conduct Product Tracing
It’s not enough for any player within the supply chain to just take note of who they are buying and selling from. Having a robust inventory management system with Lot Tracking functionality helps all players within the supply chain track and identify products.
In addition to the food/pharmaceutical industries, other industries also find benefits to product traceability such as apparel distributors. Once products arrive from a manufacturer, it’s important for an apparel distributor to manage their inventory and track items using SKUs. SKUs or Stock Keeping Units provide the ability to pinpoint a product through unique identifiable elements such as a color which helps with warehouse and inventory management.
Anyone buying and selling product that needs to be tracked and traced should look into Inventory Management ERP with Lot Tracking functionality. Key features include:
- Auto-generated lot numbers
- Tracking internal and external lot numbers
- Managing best before and expiry dates
- Accurately calculate margins after single SKU sales
- Track an unlimited amount of items
- Simplify product recalls and warnings
Benefits of Automated Product Traceability
Automating business processes has been a hot topic lately with the pandemic forcing companies to think of new and innovative ways to conduct business. With regulations surrounding the food and medical industries about product tracking, it's vital that distributors within this space have a system that can assist with this process. ERP software or 'enterprise resource planning' software allows for the automation of lot numbers for bulk orders. Imagine having to manually create a unique lot number for each skid of product you carry? Let your ERP software track products for you - all you need is access to the lot inquiry screen to see what lots have come and gone. You can even set up the system to pre-allocate lots for sales orders. Learn more about the benefits of product traceability software in the video above or contact us for a 15 minute business process analysis where we can help you run your business more effectively and efficiently.