Traceability is more than a buzzword: it’s becoming an expectation in the supply chain. Facing demands from customers down the supply chain, oversight organizations and end consumers – manufacturers are responding to the need for heightened tracking and tracing of their respective products. X-ray technologies can bolster such capabilities, including item-level food traceability, and provide real-time analytics and easy-to-retrieve product data and images.
Like you, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about traceability. Consumers want to know more about where their products come from – a 360 degree picture of what they are eating. Regulators and governments want to ensure a safe food supply under their purview and are demanding a strong food safety culture that can be assessed and validated. Manufacturers want and need to be able to satisfy the interests and demands of their retail/foodservice/distributor customers, auditors/government regulators and end consumers.
It’s a topic of much discussion, to be sure, but can true traceability be achieved and where is technology today in making that happen?
The good news is that technologies are advancing in unison with the interest in and demand for more demonstrateable traceability. Next generation advanced x-ray systems eliminate any guesswork involved, allowing you to capture information and images that hold the key to what was inspected, when, how and by whom. It’s literal transparency.
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Item-level traceability – one of the holy grails of food and beverage manufacturing – has gone from goal to reality. Depending on how they set up the system, the user of an advanced x-ray machine with the latest-generation software can get a virtual product snapshot that is time and date coded for simple storage and retrieval. The ability to provide such traceability was a major impetus behind recent upgrades to Eagle’s technology that links inspection data to a unique identifier printed on each item.
Features like unique printed identifiers and unique machine operator logins are great for tracking products through your facility, but there are other benefits as well. Real-time analytics are available for complete information on products inspected. You can also gauge productivity and efficiency by using analytics to determine things like the volume of products being inspected, what is being rejected and why, and who conducted the test. Having information on an item-by-item basis protects your brand and reflects your commitment to food safety and quality. You’re more prepared when an auditor comes and asks for a traceability test or if a customer makes a complaint.
This is where capabilities are heading, on a parallel track with demand. At Eagle, we’ve seen an uptick in providing demonstrable traceability in recent years, and we expect that to continue. This is no longer a reactive climate in which manufacturers are responding to recalls and buttoning up processes to prevent a future recall. This is a genuine and likely permanent shift in mindset accompanied by exciting innovations in software and detection capabilities.