1) How can we define traceability
Traceability can be defined as the ability to identify and trace the history, distribution, sustainability claims (human right, labor, environment, anti-corruption) and location of products, parts or materials.
The chain of custody refers to the process of tracing information in a supply chain.
2) Why is traceability important
Traceability can have multiple positive impacts for an industry:
- Have a better control of your supply chain. For example, in case of a product recall, you can know where your product units are faster.
- Promote more sustainable behaviors. Because traceability allows more transparency, it forces by extent to improve business practices towards more sustainability
- Provide evidence of good business practices
- Unite companies and stakeholders around a common purpose
- Allow valorization of effort in the field of transparency and sustainability
3) What are the main challenges when addressing the topic of traceability?
The complexity of the supply chain can be challenging when setting up a traceability methodology for a supply chain. Not only because actors may use different systems but also, because often, products are assembled with parts coming from multiple sources around the globe, where data availability can vary. The challenge of a chain of custody can be particularly tough for companies manufacturing complex products with multiple tiers of suppliers or numerous sources at any given tier. The data acquisition process can be time consuming, and in some cases, the systems needed can be onerous.
4) Traceability models
There are three main models in terms of how traceability schemes trace product attributes. These models offer different approaches to tracking a claim and assuring it at each point in the supply chain. It is important to have in mind what kind of information, or product you want to trace because this can influence the model that you will apply: