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The Essential Components of a Traceability System // November 15 2016

The characteristics of good traceability systems vary considerably in their objectives and how they operate (in terms of breadth, depth and precision). Food processors typically have a number of drivers in implementing and maintaining traceability systems. These include brand protection, regulatory and retailer pressure, and internal pressure to optimise operations and manage the supply chain.

To avoid implementing an overly complex or costly system, food processors need to determine the crucial information necessary to meet their particular business needs, food safety, traceability and recall management objectives.


Whatever your identified needs and objectives, there are key elements that must be present for any traceability system to be effective. The most basic of these include:

  • Identifiable Unit: lot, batch or single product unit.
  • Product Identifier: a code or number to identify the identifiable unit throughout the supply chain.
  • Product Description: a description of the product unit and its properties.
  • Traceability Link: a means, preferably electronic, of linking the identifier and the product information.
  • Business Identification: the handling business and its contact details.
  • Data Transfer: a mechanism to allow the timely transfer of data between each stage in the supply chain.
  • Verification: a means of testing the system performance.


Your traceability system should:

Handle complex supply and processing chains.

Where a number of ingredients are used in blended and processed foods, the identifiable unit will change as it proceeds through the processing chain. This means that the system must record the transformations in identifiable units where raw materials are collected and mixed in bulk from multiple suppliers.

Handle data to sub-batch level, track by quantity and batch code and hold a data profile on each batch down to operator level.

Anything short of this and the result is a deficient data link between the bulk finished products and their physical packing. It also means a lack of real-time quality validation needed to ensure that the traceability chain remains intact and cannot be compromised.

Make full use of existing data capture capabilities.

Ideally your traceability system should be seamlessly integrated with your ERP, process automation and other systems throughout the manufacturing process.

Fully integrate quality data in real-time with all other operational areas.

A LIMS system seamlessly integrated with the tracking of material and equipment will effectively manage the batch relationships between raw materials, process materials and packaged goods. It will ensure that quality and traceability data can be easily tracked and retrieved to meet a food company’s complex data storage, retrieval and auditing needs.


To meet the traceability challenge, you need a cost-effective solution with food-specific functionality that can:

  • Efficiently manage critical aspects of your business
  • Provide real-time access to key manufacturing, quality management and traceability data
  • Seamlessly integrate with your existing IT infrastructure
  • Integrate quality data at plant level with all other operational areas
  • Provide full traceability in minutes
  • Result in cost savings

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