Traceability is one of the most critical aspects of the supply chain. Not only does it help you keep track of your products, from raw materials to finished items, but it is also essential for recalls, finding errors, and the overall performance of your supply chain. Here are a few ways to improve traceability and why it is crucial.
What is Traceability?
In simple terms, traceability is the process of being able to track and trace every item that enters and leaves your factory or warehouse, whether it be wood for furniture or packaging boxes used to store your products.
Traceability ensures the product is safely shipped and sold, as well as monitoring its quality. It is also needed to identify any defective aspects of a product and make recalls quicker and smoother.
How to Improve Traceability
There are several steps you can take to improve your traceability. Not only are they important to implement, but it is also essential to maintain these standards.
Lot Number Tracking
Implementing lot numbers and lot number tracking should be your first step. Assigning a unique number to each batch of products allows you to identify where each batch is going and being sold, and more importantly, it helps you identify faulty batches.
For example, if you sell a food item and there have been complaints of it being old or there is an allergen present that isn’t meant to be there, you can almost instantly find which batch it was part of and recall those specific items. This is essential, especially when selling products that can cause harm or injury to a customer.
Serial Number Tracking
Serial number tracking is used to identify individual products, not batches. This is crucial when dealing with warranties, returns, and repairs. You need to identify the individual product, its faults, if a replacement has reached the customer, etc.
Quality control checks are part of the traceability process and should be viewed with the utmost importance. Each raw material and finished product should be inspected to ensure it meets the standards you have set out, and faults can be identified before the product leaves your warehouse.
Supply Chain Visibility
To improve traceability, you need a highly visible and easily accessible supply chain; you can’t fully benefit from traceability if your supply chain doesn’t allow it. You need to be able to fully track and trace items forward to a retailer and backward to your suppliers.
Another crucial part of improving traceability is to have proactive monitoring. A supply chain and traceability don’t function on their own; you need to ensure you have the right people and software in place to monitor every step of the process and, once again, be able to identify any faults in your system and product.
One of the best ways to improve your traceability is to put it to the test. Mock recalls should be a regular occurrence in your business, as they help you to see where you can improve, as well as if there are any unseen problems in your systems.
It is always important to remember that there will often be issues you don’t know exist until a recall is done. Therefore, instead, test regularly and eliminate the problems before a recall happens.
Benefits of Traceability
There are multiple invaluable benefits to having improved traceability in your supply chain. Still, a few of the best ones are being able to identify problems quickly, improve your systems, have a better relationship with your customers and potential customers, and improve your business image.
Identify Issues Quickly
As mentioned, finding and fixing issues as quickly as possible is essential. It’s needed to maintain manufacturing standards, find defective batches and products, and have a super-charged recall process.
Making constant adjustments and improvements allows you to maximize your supply chain and processes. There is always room to be better and do better, and traceability is one of the best areas to do this.
Improved Customer Relations & Service
Regarding recalls and faulty products, you can instantly lose customers if your reaction is sub-par. You can rebuild bridges and keep your customers on your side if you can deal with these problems quickly and effectively.
There are several examples of companies losing all customer credibility due to ineffective recall processes that led to client dissatisfaction and even harm.
Improved Business Image
Finally, and concerning the previous point, you can improve your business image as well with superior traceability. Your image can be severely and permanently tarnished if you allow defective products to remain in circulation. Considering this can be avoided, it shouldn’t be a risk you take.
To summarize, traceability is an important aspect of your supply chain. No matter how big or small your business is, you need to ensure you are creating the best possible product using high-quality materials and guaranteeing said products reach your customers in the best condition.