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Track and Trace: More transparency for supply chain management

Track and Trace: More transparency for supply chain management

3. February 2021
Tracking & Tracing

Track & Trace is no longer a foreign term to us. But what exactly is it all about? What requirements should a Track & Trace system meet? With a Track & Trace or Tracking and Tracing system, the status of a shipment can be tracked and monitored both before and after delivery. If, for example, a shipment has not reached the consignee, it is easy to check what its last location was. Track & Trace has also been known for a long time in the private sector. If I order an item online, I will receive a shipment number and can easily see at which intermediate station my package currently is located. Furthermore, I will also receive an indication on approximately how long it will take until it is delivered to me.

So why hasn’t this already become standard in supply chain management? According to studies and surveys, supply chain visibility is one of the most awaited future trends in supply chain management. However, the trend does not seem to have caught on everywhere yet. In many cases, companies do not even have a simple Track & Trace system. Instead, countless e-mails are written back and forth to obtain important information regarding the status of the delivery.  

Why is an “end-to-end” tracking of shipments necessary at all?

A good Track & Trace system contributes greatly to better supply chain transparency. To achieve transparency, the need for information is inevitable. New technologies can transmit information on the exact location and, with the help of sensor technology, even on temperature fluctuations, humidity, light exposure and impact damage. This supports with early, efficient detection and correction of deviations or  problems. You can read about the technologies available for tracking and tracing here.

The desire for better transparency in the supply chain is further enhanced due to more complex structures of supply chains. The latter have shown an increasing number of process participants, making it increasingly difficult to maintain an overview and track individual process steps. And this is precisely where the major challenge for supply chain management lies: finding a system that maps the entire supply chain and not just individual steps. In addition, as technology advances, so do the requirements of end users and business partners for transparent delivery.

Requirements for a Track & Trace system

The requirements for a Track & Trace system differ depending on the industry. If, for example, a cold chain must be maintained, as in the food sector or in the pharmaceutical industry, much higher requirements must be observed than if, for example, clothing is being shipped. Here, not only information on the location, but also on the temperature and humidity inside the container is necessary to prove quality standards. In other areas, the focus is more on tracking the location to ensure that the shipment reaches its destination on time. However, all Track & Trace systems definitely have one thing in common: they must be capable of being integrated in a supply chain management software. After all, this is the only way to centrally check and secure the data.

For more information on the topics supply chain visibility and resilience, we want to invite you to our webinar series starting February 17, 2021. We will talk about why it is so hard to achieve end-to-end-visibility in supply chain management, about possible solutions and what actually constitutes a resilient supply chain. Sounds interesting? For more information, please visit our event site.

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