Grant Hodgkins of vision-care products company Alcon and Sue Teller of Kraft Foods shared their companies' experiences with traceability at the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) Conference in Anaheim, Calif., last week. Both companies need track-and-trace capabilities to ensure the safety of the products they produce.
Being a global company, Alcon had to accommodate the different pedigree laws existing in countries worldwide. There is no international standard yet for what data needs to be collected and then passed along with the product as it makes its way through the supply chain. Hodgkins shared several different models for providing such data, including the "one forward—one back" approach that Alcon currently employs. This model assures that Alcon has relevant tracking data from the previous owner of the product as well as providing enough information to the next in line in the chain of custody.
Kraft Foods operates a similar one-up-one-back program, but Teller said it is difficult as not everyone has the same type of data. She suggested that it is very important to have traceability within a company's internal processes as well. That allows the company to be proactive in the event of any recalls.
Hodgkins added that technology will also help advance traceability and he believes that eventually it may be standard to use bar codes for item-level tracking and RFID for data collection at the case level.