ISO Standard Aims to Make Supply Chain Traceability Easier


by | Feb 13, 2017

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traceabilityTraceability is vital to supply chain management.

Need proof? Just ask Target, which suffered a supply chain disaster this summer over falsely labeled Egyptian cotton sheets, prompting other major retailers including Walmart, JC Penney and Bed Bath & Beyond to investigate the labeling and sourcing of their Welspun-made sheets and other textiles.

In addition to ensuring authenticity, traceability is important for ensuring the quality and safety of virtually every product on the market. Customers are increasingly demanding traceability and transparency — and to this end we are seeing leading companies like Target pledging transparency and traceability for all chemicals used across its operations and in its products.

And now a new ISO committee has been formed to make this task easier.

There are an overwhelming number of chain-of-custody management systems and programs — for food safety, sustainable agriculture or compliance in manufacturing — and they all have their own semantics, presentation and industry focus.

But the sheer number of such systems adds unnecessary layers of administration, thereby increasing costs and pushing smaller companies out of international markets, ISO says.

With this in mind a new ISO project committee, ISO/PC 308, Chain of custody, was established to make traceability simpler for all supply chain actors by using a uniform ISO language globally.

The upcoming ISO standard will also reduce unnecessary duplication, said chair of ISO/PC 308 Rob Busink.

“The proliferation of traceability systems and definitions is causing unnecessary confusion, complexity and costs for players in different supply chains,” Busink said. “The proposed generic chain-of-custody standard will define supply chain models and the respective traceability levels and specific requirements related to administration, conversion rates and physical handling activities, thus simplifying market access by using a uniform language and criteria throughout the supply chain.”

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