How integrating IoT can improve supply chain traceability
- The main traceability challenges for manufacturers include technology for labeling and tracing products, consumer awareness, and meeting the proper legislative requirements.
- Potential solutions can be found in advancements in three key technologies: Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and cloud computing.
- Traceability needs to be effective, efficient, and come at a reasonable cost, but the necessary technology hasn't always been available to all manufacturers or feasible for manufacturers with massive global operations.
For optimum traceability, food manufacturers can find a way to integrate the three of these technologies within and along their supply chains. The benefits can vary but include "demand forecasting for better stock control and management, and multi-site logistics and inventory lifecycle management for better overall visibility, as well as mobile apps for barcode scanning and inventory traceability," according to Mike Lorbiecki, vice president of sales at IFS North America, in a piece for Food Manufacturing.
Big Data is one way manufacturers are already trying to institute more traceability in the supply chain, such as the Boat-to-Plate Seafood Traceability and Product Differentiation of New England Groundfish project. The Boat-to-Plate project received a grant last year from the Midcoast Fishermen's Association to develop an app that would enable New England fishermen to upload information about where the fish they caught came from. Consumers could then learn that info by scanning a fish label with their smartphone at the retailer.
The Internet of Things, while not yet as widely used throughout food and beverage manufacturing, also poses potential for making projects like Boat-to-Plate a reality. IoT creates connections between pieces of machinery and can lead to an automation of the traceability process. This reduces costs while increasing efficiency and transaction quality. IoT can also make labeling and identification technology more viable and cost-effective for manufacturers.