According to food and beverage IT specialist CSB-System International, a fully integrated traceability system can offer companies a vital competitive advantage.

The company says its latest software enables businesses to obtain International Food Standard (IFS) ‘higher level’ certification, meeting all legal requirements and providing an enhanced quality management system that helps to reduce costs and improve overall production efficiencies.

The CSB system is also able to link to external consumer databases such as fTrace and Mynetfair to meet growing demand from end-customers to check the authenticity and history of the products they are purchasing.

The system has been designed to link all areas of operation – from raw material procurement through processing and packing to onward dispatch – through a single central database that can monitor and report back on the progress or whereabouts of a product at any time.

Each traceability system is tailored to specific customer requirements taking into account particular national and international standards or regulations, including EU hygiene regulations, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) requirements, ingredients and nutritional information, and COOL (Country of Origin Labelling).

CSB says an integrated system also helps to reduce manual information inputting for enhanced accuracy and control of production, with online capture of data directly at source which in turn helps to minimise the costs of documentation and labelling.

Central to the system is the use of lot numbers to link all parts of the production and supply chain.  CSB carries out an in-depth analysis of each customer’s current operations and all areas that are to be included. This, combined with the amount of detail included in the lot number, determines the number of check points along the material and information flow and the structure of the data to be processed to create the bespoke system.

The system links both equipment, such as weighers and weigh price labellers, and finished packs, as well as storage facilities. The posting of information about the identified units is carried out in goods receiving, inventory, production and sales. RFID and barcode readers enable information to be readily available throughout the process for checking and amendment as required.

The use of lot numbers helps to ensure identification of ingredients and components during manufacture and provides links to finished products to deliver a comprehensive overview of product origins. This includes identification of all suppliers of processed raw and auxiliary materials.

The system can also form part of an efficient logistics programme, with faster order picking, and information sent onto carriers in advance to enable them to plan loading requirements and delivery routes.

“Our traceability systems help to ensure full transparency both internally and externally,” commented Thomas Kersten, industry specialist at CSB System International. “In this way companies can easily demonstrate due diligence and be certain they are meeting all legislative and regulatory requirements. Such a system helps to generate an increase in consumer trust and means that should any problems arise with a particular product, the situation can be handled quickly and competently.”