Traceability is often thought to be the domain of food, pharmaceutical or perhaps electronics companies, but more and more it’s the concern of everyone.
Interestingly, researchers have found, that when businesses make a mistake and put it right they receive higher customer satisfaction scores than those where nothing goes wrong. So having the tools at hand to deal with a faulty batch of raw materials or a production error that creates an issue with finished products, can actually be a source of competitive advantage.
The problem with traceability is that the software only works when its fed the right information, and collecting that information can be hard work. The ability to understand exactly which raw materials went into which finished products to manage supplier returns, relies on those raw materials being assigned a lot number when they are delivered, that lot number being entered onto the job and the resulting finished goods lot being tracked through on the delivery. This also means that the despatch team can’t necessarily pick the first product that comes to hand, they need to either record or select the right lot number too, otherwise you can forget a fast and efficient customer recall process.
And let’s face it, you hardly ever have to rely on the traceability process, because things just don’t go wrong that often. So when they do go wrong, that’s when you normally find out the data you thought was being collected, just isn’t there.
So how can you make it easier to live with traceability?
- Work with suppliers to make sure all deliveries come with a barcoded lot number, so you can just scan the product code, lot number and quantity to get the components booked into stock
- Use that same barcode to issue to jobs, perhaps using a mobile device with Translution to make life even easier
- Implement a robust barcode solution like Bartender to create finished goods labels with the lot number already printed on them
- Make it easy for the dispatch warehouse to scan the lot number when dispatching, consider using our Advanced Warehouse system to help with this
- Regularly test your process by doing a few dry runs
- Finally, don’t forget to include the customer (and supplier) communication plans in with your traceability strategy, as this will have the biggest impact on how your customers view their experience.