Blog Traceability

Traceability means having the ability to track and trace a product along the supply chain, from its origin to its end of life. Traceability allows you to retrieve information about a product’s history, application or location anywhere in the supply chain, at any given time. In the early days, this was done by means of paper invoices from suppliers, which were later associated to a batch of products. Today, traceability uses the latest digital technologies to confirm a product’s origin and guarantee its authenticity, track its transportation and distribution movement in real time and measure its carbon footprint, as well as improve overall supply chain and operational performance.

Blog Traceability


In practice, traceability begins with assigning a unique identifier to a product, enabling it to be tracked along its journey through the supply chain. Let’s use olive oil as an example. You place a label on each olive oil bottle with an identifier. You may add any attributes (e.g., the expiry date) to this olive oil’s identity. This information is encoded in a standard manner in a data carrier (like a barcode, data matrix, or RFID) that will allow the olive oil bottle to be read at different stages along the supply chain. Supply chain partners will be using the same common language for identification and data capture.

As each bottle travels along the supply chain, its information is read, as well as the time, location, and any other data relevant data that you choose to be recorded. In a central database, your business will be able to access all the relevant data, which can then be analyzed and used to make informed decisions on how to improve operations.

Blog Traceability


Data is at the heart of almost every business decision, and traceability is the tool that provides the data you need to make the best decisions. In simple terms, traceability can:

  • Provide supply chain visibility and transparency
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Assist quality control
  • Be an anti-counterfeit tool
  • Serve as proof of compliance
  • Confirm product origin, authenticity and integrity
  • Evaluate socioeconomic and environmental impact


Blog Traceability


Ask yourself what business processes and data are important for you to collect and analyze. How do you plan to use the information? What granularity and latency of information does your traceability application require? Answering these questions is a first step in the traceability implementation process. Next, the organization will need to establish which products and processes it needs to capture relevant data from. Always keep in mind most traceability applications rely on inputs from outside your organization. It is important to understand your current relationships with the most critical parties that control the data you need (e.g., suppliers, customers) and ensure you develop a mutually beneficial relationship. Contact OPTEL to understand in more detail what will be required and what the most appropriate technology is for your business


Replacing obsolete paper-based or digital systems in favor of a single traceability system capable of collecting, storing and analyzing data brings businesses to a new era of transparency. This will lead to more efficient supply chains, better asset management, more sustainable consumption behaviors, more informed consumers and less waste. In this case, what is good for the business is good for its consumers and for the world.

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