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supply chain

GS1 seeks to improve supply chain transparency

March 9, 2020
By Alana House

GS1 has launched a new initiative aimed at increasing safety in the Australian food and beverage supply chain. 

An industry working group has been set up to drive the project, using the GS1 global standards for product identification, data capture and data sharing.

GS1’s Global Traceability Standard (GTS) allows businesses to track their products in real-time and have end-to-end visibility of the supply chain.

Representatives from Nestlé, Ingham’s, SPC, Lion Dairy and Drinks, Sanitarium, CHR Hansen, Newly Weds Foods, FPC Food Plastics, Labelmakers, Matthews Australasia and Visy Industries make up the group.

“The group will work to achieve consensus across the industry to improve food and beverage safety, deliver efficiencies and reduce costs,” said GS1 Australian account director Andrew Steele. 

“The project’s objective is strengthening integration between the thousands of upstream supply chains in the Australian food and beverage manufacturing industry.”

Today, sourcing ingredients without a traceability and safety protocol invites counterfeit products into the supply chain and an increased risk of contamination.

News of unsafe or spoilt products can impact business owner’s livelihoods and the industry’s broader reputation, along with disruption to consumer’s lives.

The ability for companies to capture material movements from ‘paddock-to-plate’ provides data integrity and timeliness from receipt to delivery, with traceability back to the source. Through automation, many of the manual processes are eliminated and businesses can be proactive with inventory management and handling systems.

“As a food and beverage business it’s critical for us from a food safety perspective to be able to track ingredients all the way back to the origin,” said SPC’s national logistics manager, Christian Lecompte.

Also critical to business is the capability to support information and production flow within existing systems for integrated supply chains. The project has the capacity to eliminate waste within an organisation’s value stream, reduce non-value-added tasks and ensure cost-effective solutions for customers, leading to a ‘right-first-time’ approach for all deliveries.

“One of the things we found we could do to be more efficient was to look at opportunities to be able to electronically track all the product ingredients throughout the production cycle – how we identify a product coming into the warehouses, how we receipt goods, how we put our goods away, how we manage our inventory and how we deal with our suppliers,” said Lecompte.

The adoption of GS1 standards as the common language for the identification, data capture and data sharing will enable automation of key ingredient sourcing, and traceability between ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers. Using GS1 standards for upstream integration goes well beyond minimum standards and allows businesses to translate their internal processes and approaches into the one common language that all trading partners can use and understand, without having to translate data formats across different supply chain management systems.

Steele said this is key, as interoperability is essential to the future of data sharing.

“Establishing international standards to ensure transparency across the supply chain can help lower existing barriers to the exchange of data between suppliers, trading partners and consumers,” he said.

The Supply Chain Improvement Project has the potential to deliver many benefits to industry, including increased visibility of food ingredients and raw materials, unique identification and traceability to improve safety, and reduced costs with automated business transactions.

Nestle Australia’s head of digital supply chain, Mandeep Sodhi pointed out the key to the project’s success.

“By having consensus across the industry on how to interconnect electronically and exchange critical operational data, we can realise cost-effective solutions across the end-to-end – from manufacturers, to suppliers, to customers – everyone benefits from this improvement in standardisation,” he said.

Looking ahead, the industry working group is encouraging all upstream businesses to adopt the food and beverage safety and traceability protocol using GS1 standards.

“With an industry-wide solution in place, your trading partners will have more visibility of your products across the supply chain,” said Steele.

GS1 is a valued Corporate Partner of the Drinks Association.