Enterprise Labeling is Essential for Meeting High Traceability Standards

by Pierre Heymann, on February 4, 2020

Traceability around the world can help supply chains improve.
Traceability around the world can help supply chains improve.

Tracing goods through the supply chain has become an important part of logistics today. Whether an organization is bound by strict regulations or trying to get ahead of the curve to save money and create an optimal experience for customers, improving the traceability of items through the use of barcode labels is a valuable practice to embrace.

By meeting approved standards from organizations such as GS1, organizations can ensure finished items and materials are visible throughout the stages of the supply chain. This may help those companies prove their operations are sustainable, work more quickly in the event of a recall or improve the overall efficiency of shipments and transportation.

True supply chain visibility takes information from physical goods and makes that data visible digitally. Through unique barcodes and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, companies can meet strict standards. Modern enterprise labeling solutions allow organizations throughout the levels of the supply chain meet requirements by ensuring all the company's label-related data is included in the label.

Motives for Improving Traceability

There's no reason for companies to settle for poor traceability of goods and materials through their supply chains. Opaque processes that don't allow employees to quickly, accurately and easily determine the location of a particular item will naturally lead to wasted time and unnecessary expenses. With that said, there are a few more specific reasons for organizations to increase traceability. These motives go beyond regulatory requirements for supply chain visibility, meaning companies should take action on improving labeling even when not legally bound to do so.

Improve Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) indicated that having a comprehensive view of goods, from raw materials to final sale, is essential for companies that want to prove they are not having an adverse social or environmental impact. Between tightening regulations from governments and customer desire to purchase goods that come from responsibly managed sources, this is a major motivator for companies to tighten the controls around their supply chains through the introduction of improved barcode labeling systems.

Keep Consumers Safe and Improve Ability to Perform Recalls

BSR'sTara Norton and Cliodhnagh Conlon pointed out that in industries such as pharmaceuticals and food, companies are deeply invested in ensuring their products don't pose a health risk to their customers. Having effective traceability for every item that passes through the supply chain isn't just a valuable way to ensure that only high-quality ingredients are used, it is also essential if a recall becomes necessary. When leaders know exactly which items were affected by a problem and where those goods went, they can execute the recall quickly, without impacting products that are safe.

Guard Against Counterfeiting and Fraud

In sectors including electronics, there are problems with fake goods entering the supply chain. These can include risky, substandard parts or finished products. In all cases, companies should be thinking of ways to ensure their customers only receive authentic, high-quality merchandise made with real components. Track and traceability features can help, as every authentic shipment will be accounted for and counterfeiters will find it hard to infiltrate the production and distribution processes.

Become More Effective at Detecting Logistics Inefficiencies

When companies have in-depth and accurate tracking available for all their goods, they don't just gain the ability to verify those items' paths. They also become better equipped to see how long transportation takes and determine whether there are any areas of the supply chain prone to slowdowns. Creating optimized and efficient processes that stretch from materials procurement and manufacturing to distribution or direct sales is easier when decision-makers decision-makers have all the tracking data at their fingertips rather than being forced to use intuition or guesswork.

A world map joined with trails.Companies should be able to track goods, no matter how far the shipments reach.



GS1 Standards in Labeling

Businesses don't have to go it alone when determining the best ways to boost traceability in their supply chains. By following internationally recognized standards, these companies can gain confidence that their methods will be effective while also improving their ability to share information with partner organizations.

GS1, an organization behind multiple standards of supply chain measurement, provides organizations with unique barcodes and identification numbers that are unique to those products and work with retailers and distributors internationally. Companies that use GS1 labels will be better able to exchange data with their partner organizations throughout the supply chain, improving their ability to implement process improvements dependent on end-to-end traceability.

The GS1 organization described a few ways in which its standards help companies excel at various points of a product lifecycle. For instance, rail and maritime carriers may move goods more easily when the shipping labels are designed to meet GS1 standards. Last-mile and delivery logistics could also improve when the products being delivered have GS1-compliant labels. Even customs procedures could become quicker and more efficient when organizations use standardized shipping labels.

Implementing New Enterprise Labeling Solutions

The primary way to change the manner in which a company handles labeling is to implement an Enterprise Labeling solutions. Working with Loftware,  a Certified GS1 US Solution Partner, enables companies to easily incorporate all the information required and take advantage of the resulting improvements to visibility and traceability. State of the Art Enterprise Labeling software makes it easy for companies to design and manage labels, no matter what systems and applications they are using and how many locations they are operating from.

The key to making the labeling system work effectively, even when companies use many facilities for manufacturing or shipping and have many partner organizations, is to ensure that the labeling solution gets the data from the source of truth whether it is in their Enterprise Resource Planning systems such as SAP and Oracle, in content management systems, or maintained and controlled in the labeling software.   

Knowing where everything is in the supply chain - where materials originated, where shipments are bound and every stop in between - is a laudable goal for companies to have. Enterprise Labeling solutions are the key to realizing this objective because they represent the connection between the real-world items being measured and the digital systems that allow all stakeholders to stay on the same page. Companies that reach this goal of full traceability will likely see multiple major advantages relatively quickly.

Topics:CounterfeitingRegulatoryRetailManufacturingLabelingTransportation & LogisticsLogisticsLoftware NewsTrack & TraceabilityStandardizationBarcode LabelingGS1