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How much traceability is enough?

‘Momentum building for cattle traceability’ according to Beef Magazine. The New York Times is asking ‘Will blockchain fix the mineral traceability woes?’ The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative has created a standard with a traceability mechanism to ensure that certified aluminium has been manufactured by certified producers at every stage. Meanwhile BIM Today reports that ‘verification processes and technology…improve quality by applying the concept of traceability, while reducing risk and waste’.

So traceability is in the news. And it is easy to find examples from almost any industry of how traceability is rising up the agenda. The drivers of this are both commercial and ethical. Traceability not only makes financial sense, but it is also the principal means of delivering sustainability – both social and environmental – in the supply chain.

Blockchain is often touted as the answer to traceability. But the problem is not as simple as that. Of course blockchains can help data to remain secure, but you have to get the right data into your systems in the first place. A blockchain can preserve false data as easily as it can  preserve correct data.

But what data do you need in order to provide a useful level of traceability? And how much traceability do you already have in your supply chain? What about the demand chain – the activities down through the consumer to the end of life or re-cycling?

Adrian Henriques paper, ‘A History of Everything’ tries to answer some of those questions. It looks at what traceability means, how it needs to be distinguished form Chain of Custody, and what information you may need to capture to deliver it.

And all through thinking about a yellow rubber duck… Read the paper here 

Post by Adrian Henriques