Product Traceability using the IoT

track and trace, product traceability

You’ve started to deploy the Internet of things, IoT, solutions within your supply chain. But are you tracking the finished products you manufactured? What is your line of sight? If your product develops issues are you able to recall information about when and where the item was manufactured? Are you tracking the components that you ordered for your manufacturing lines? Or which component suppliers are providing faulty parts? How about the manufacturing equipment you’ve invested in? Are you able to pinpoint where high-value assets within your factory are located?

Traceability

End-to-end traceability is essential for any supply chain to mitigate risk and quickly resolve issues as they arise. Product defects that require recalling products are highly damaging to a brand. It is important to have the ability to find the source of the defect. These defects can be anything from a component within the manufacturing process to a tainted ingredient. Quick response times in addressing the recall issue is important in retaining consumer trust and protecting the brand’s public image. The manufacturer’s product-level information should be integrated with component supplier information. They are both necessary to provide effective traceability between your production and the end user.

Product Traceability generally falls under two categories:

  • For discrete manufacturers, location services to track components through assembly and the final product’s delivery to customers.
  • For food and process manufacturers, the need to trace each ingredient of a product from source to the end consumer.

Traceability for Discrete Manufacturing

Recalls are not only extremely damaging to brand loyalty but also incur massive fines from government agencies overseeing consumer safety. Government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are becoming increasingly stringent and increasing fines for non-compliance. By now the various methods for tracking products and components in manufacturing lines are well established with barcodes and serial numbers. The barcode marks and serial number formats vary across various manufacturers and require careful logging of each component coming from suppliers.

If you are still logging your inbound components manually it is time to transition to an automated process. This means using computer vision to read labels and barcodes to automatically log inbound components to your database. Scanning these labels and barcodes can be a tedious process for large items that don’t fit on conveyor belts. Another method for effective outbound product tracking is RFID system tagging. Reading these radio frequency tags can be a difficult task for humans if products are stored in inaccessible locations.

Fellow Inc. uses autonomous robots equipped with computer vision and cameras to address this very issue. Fellow Inc.’s robotic solution allows you to autonomously track your inventory instead of using handheld barcode readers. These autonomous robotic platforms have a location-based capability to scan RFID tags. These scans accurately localize their position within your warehousing or production facility. These tools help to close the gaps between inbound components and outbound products.

Food and Process Manufacturer Traceability

Today’s consumers are well educated and focused on making ethical purchases that make themselves feel good about their choices. The growth of ethical consumerism places pressure on industries to provide ethically sourced goods. This includes things such as conflict-free diamonds, fair-trade clothing, sustainably-sourced seafood, fair-trade coffee, and free-range eggs. Apply smart sensors and GPS enabled RFID technology tags to your products. This will enable you to track where your products are sourced and whose hands they pass through.

These GPS device tracking tools provide peace of mind and ease the certification process. Your products can be fair trade certified and GPS tracked from their source of origin. You can reinforce customer trust in your brand through graphical representations. Create new opportunities for building brand loyalty by providing unprecedented transparency of your supply chain. Fellow Inc. has the sensors that allow you to track your product at each stage. The sensors begin tracking from their origin, through your supply chain, manufacturing, and to your consumers. 

Fellow Inc.

We’ve developed the tools that provide clear tracking of your products. Tracking is clear whether they are on pallets, in shipping containers, or finished products. Our GPS enabled RFID trackers provide visibility from the source of origin. And our computer vision and RFID enabled autonomous robots fill visibility gaps between warehousing, manufacturing, and retail. Contact us to find out more about how you can safeguard your products with traceability.

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