A critical technology for business is track and trace computer systems.
Originally implemented in logistics for shipment tracking, track and trace systems have long been used in reverse logistics applications to track returns, customer service orders, recalls, etc. Now these barcode-based tracking systems are now moving inside the walls of the assembly plant and customer service facility.
Everyone is familiar with the barcode tracking of shipments by logistics companies and shippers like FedEx and UPS. Up-to-date information and history of a shipment is available from the Internet. This is complete visibility on demand – unbiased, real-time information delivered from the “cloud”.
Track and trace systems have been successfully implemented in high-visibility applications such as customer service (often integrated with the call center) and reverse logistics. Forward-thinking firms realized that consumer returns represented a treasure trove of information about product quality, design improvement opportunities, monitoring of off-shore manufacturing quality, etc.
Of course, upper management realized that they now had an up-to-date source of unbiased information about operational performance – turnaround, output, quality, backlogs. Less potential for surprises!
Assembly and manufacturing operations are now realizing the benefits of track and trace systems. Barcodes are assigned to products, parts, purchase orders, traveler documents – anything that moves.
Customer service operations use these systems to track service requests, orders and applications to provide consistent and prompt response. In addition, they collect valuable real-time information about customer interactions.
By storing these barcodes in a database and tracking activities as they happen, quality programs can be directly integrated with production, record keeping for regulators is facilitated and measurement against key performance indicators (KPI’s) becomes automatic.
Track and trace applications are particulary suited for cloud or software as a service (SAAS) implementations – everything becomes on-demand and real-time. Hidden costs become visible, problems are identified earlier and unbiased, objective data is visible throughout the organization.