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Setting strong foundations for traceability

GS1’s new free to use Traceability Analysis Program offers organisations a thorough set of tools to assess their existing or prospective traceability systems independently.

The team at GS1 Australia continues to provide practical insights to empower businesses in attaining top-notch end-to-end traceability. 

Whether you aim for regulatory compliance, operational efficiency enhancement, or transparency improvements, you can rely on GS1’s expertise and guidance to support you every step of the way.

To help businesses make the most of tracking and tracing their products, the not-for-profit organisation has created a new online traceability suite, the Traceability Analysis Program. 

John Szabo, manager of Advisory Services at GS1 Australia, said the program is available at no cost and designed to help organisations assess their current traceability implementation. 

As well as help them learn about traceability if they are aiming to implement new solutions or reach new markets both local and overseas. 

“The suite of tools is also a great way for organisations to learn about the GS1 traceability standards,” he said.

“A lot of organisations have implemented traceability solutions that are internally focussed.

“This means you can lose visibility of traceability once it goes past the four walls. Both with upstream and downstream.”. 

The new program has an emphasis on key GS1 fundamentals, including product identification, data capture and data sharing.

“Within the program we have developed several questions that would typically be used when a GS1 representative goes on-site to do traceability assessment,” said Szabo.

The Traceability Analysis Program has several key elements.

“One of those elements is an entry point for organisations that want to review their current implementation, in order to indefinitely any gaps,” said Szabo.

“GS1 is aware of many organisations that haven’t yet achieved a refined traceability system. The Traceability Analysis Program has been developed to address this. 

There are two online self-assessment questionnaires that are available at no cost to all organisations.

“The first is a ‘needs assessment’. This focuses on the company drivers for traceability,” said Szabo.

“For example, is traceability related to a regulatory requirement?  Or it may be they are looking to improve recall processes that traditionally consume a lot of company time and effort. 

“Invariably, in the case of a recall, organisations end up pulling all stock off the shelf due to poor recall processes and traceability systems. Improving recalls helps with brand protection as a side effect, in addition to improved efficiencies and greater visibility throughout the supply chain.” 

Szabo said the major benefits of traceability comes from two different areas. 

“One is increased sales. With proper traceability in place, it opens up increased sales, leading to increased revenue,” he said.

The other is related to efficiencies and cost savings. 

“The other core element of the Traceability Analysis Program is centred around a self-diagnostic questionnaire,” said Szabo.

This self-guided questionnaire is designed for simple completion. And the questions are kept simple to allow for the most transparent collection of data.

“There are elements of the questionnaire that talk about organisational readiness, the set-up, training, as well as where the data is stored and shared,” added Szabo. 

“It’s similar to ISO type audits and the traceability standard was built on existing standards but enhanced with GS1 flavours and components.”

Once the questionnaire is complete GS1 collates the information provided. 

“We give the company an overall score and then look at internal and external traceability and other related components,” said Szabo. 

Szabo added that there is nothing to lose in undertaking the questionnaire, only benefits to be had.

“It opens their eyes to the considerations of traceability, beyond their internal processes and it looks at different elements of traceability,” he said. 

“There’s also a lot more focus these days on the circular economy. 

“We are getting to the point where we need to start measuring and tracking items of, for example, packaging, where you need to understand the whole product life cycle.”

Szabo said setting the foundation with the help of industry insight will go a long way to creating a stronger traceability method moving forward.

“What we are providing is the opportunity to share information in standardised formats. We may not necessarily from day one be able to achieve everything we want to, but we are providing the springboard for that,” he said. 

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