Batch tracing

For us as a producer in the B2B sector, complete batch traceability is indispensable. Whereas in the past it was almost exclusively companies that were bound by law to comply with the obligations, today we have almost no customers who do not make use of the benefits of the practices and also check them again and again during audits. The raw materials used are also affected by batch traceability, because clean and ethically acceptable raw materials are a must. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case and this is exactly why many large companies are keeping an eye on it.
One of our biggest clients is in the food/consumer sector, so batch separation and proof of origin is something we deal with every day. However, we have always been able to benefit from the processes and practices and our extra work in doing so is manageable.

What is batch tracing?

Batch tracing is used, among other things, to seamlessly reconstruct production batches throughout the entire supply chain, starting with the raw materials and ending with the finished product. It is also possible to trace back, down to the second, which person in which department came into contact with the products. This offers considerable advantages in the event of product recalls or defects. Batch tracing goes hand in hand with batch separation, which in turn contributes to damage limitation and optimal clarification of the cause in the event of a complaint.

How does batch tracing work?

The key word for complete traceability is the so-called batch number. A batch refers to a specific production quantity of a product that has the same properties and is made from identical original materials. An example from spring production would be, for example, raw material that was obtained from a melt and is used in a production batch of manufacturing, this results in a batch.
The batch number is stored and secured by means of the EDP system and the respective delivery documents to uniquely linked connections.

In practice, this means that as soon as the raw material is accepted in the goods receiving department and the material has been inspected, a unique sequential number is generated, which is attached to the material by means of a label. This number will accompany the material from then on and will be visible on all documents in the inventory management system, such as the production plan.
Thus, from this moment and until delivery to the customer, the material, the products and all associated documents can be clearly and unambiguously linked.

Example of a batch number label

What are the advantages of batch traceability:

As already mentioned, there are companies which are obliged by law to maintain a batch traceability system in their company. This includes, for example, the food industry. However, small businesses and other companies that do not have to comply with these procedures can also benefit from such measures.

A very important aspect is certainly the cost reduction. For example, in the case of larger delivery quantities that were produced and delivered in strictly separated batches, it is possible to find out exactly which parts are affected in the event of a complaint or a material defect and to initiate corrective measures more quickly. All this can be done in a much shorter time than if the entire production had to be checked and, if necessary, even taken back.

Another advantage is the general transparency towards the customer. In this day and age, the safe origin of the materials used from harmless supplier countries plays an important role, and can thus also be marketed as a positive attribute of the company. These guaranteed properties can be used for active advertising, for example on the homepage or the packaging of the product.

FIFO principle

The FIFO principle (First-in First-out) does not really have anything to do with batch tracing, but the two go hand in hand. This is because if the warehouse is linked to production, the application of this warehouse principle can lead to better traceability of any problems that occur. This is made possible by the fact that there is a predefined order in which goods are processed. The FIFO principle instructs which stored goods arrived first or last at the warehouse and determines which ones are made available for dispatch first. By ensuring that the products that are stored first are also dispatched first, it is possible to avoid products being stored in the warehouse for too long and thus minimise cost risks.