Manual Tracking Systems vs Digital Tracking Systems
Manual tracking systems involve using physical records, such as paper documents or handwritten logs, to track the history and location of products or activities. These records may include documents such as invoices, receipts, or quality control records. Manual tracking systems can be effective in certain circumstances, such as for small businesses with a limited number of products or organisations that only need to track a few key pieces of information. However, they can also be prone to errors and omissions due to the potential for human error and the difficulty of keeping records organised and up-to-date. dditionally, manual tracking systems can be time-consuming and labour-intensive, since they require manual data entry and record-keeping.
One of the main challenges of manual tracking systems is ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the records. Therefore, it is important for organisations to have robust processes in place for maintaining and updating records and verifying the information’s accuracy. This can involve regularly reviewing and updating records, implementing quality control checks, and training employees on proper record-keeping practices.
Digital tracking systems, on the other hand, use computerised systems and software to track and record the history and location of products or activities. These systems can automatically capture and store data in real-time, minimizing the risk of errors and omissions. They can also be easier to access and update, as records are stored electronically and can be easily accessed and modified by authorised personnel. Additionally, digital tracking systems can often provide more detailed and comprehensive tracking information, incorporating various data sources and providing analytics and reporting capabilities.
Various types of digital tracking systems are available, each with unique capabilities and potential uses. Some common types of digital tracking systems include:
Barcode systems: Machine-readable optical labels that contain information about a product or item to track and identify products or items. Barcode systems can be used to track a wide range of items, including parts, inventory, and equipment.
Radiofrequency identification (RFID) systems: These systems use RFID tags, which are small electronic devices that transmit data wirelessly to track and identify products or items. RFID systems can track a wide range of items, including parts, inventory, and equipment, and provide real-time tracking information.
Computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS): Examples- repairs, inspections, and preventative maintenance. CMMS systems can help organisations to streamline maintenance processes and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their maintenance operations.
Blockchain: Used to track and record the history and location of products or activities. Blockchain is a decentralised, distributed database that uses cryptography to secure and store data in a transparent and immutable manner. In the context of traceability, blockchain technology has the potential to establish a dependable and transparent account of the past and present of products or events, permitting multiple participants to examine and confirm the data without relying on a central entity. Blockchain can be particularly useful in supply chain management, as it allows organisations to track the movement of goods and materials throughout the production and distribution process, providing a more comprehensive and accurate view of the supply chain.
The Superiority of Digital Tracking Systems
Digital tracking systems are computerised systems and software used to track and record the history and location of products or activities. These systems can provide a more accurate and efficient means of tracking, as they can automatically capture and store data in real-time and reduce the risk of errors and omissions. In addition to these benefits, digital tracking systems can positively impact sustainability, efficiency, quality, and safety.
One potential benefit of digital tracking systems is their ability to reduce an organisation’s reliance on paper and other physical records. By using digital systems to track and record information, organisations can significantly reduce their use of paper, which can help to lower their environmental impact. In addition, digital tracking systems can also help organisations to more efficiently track and manage resources, such as energy and water, leading to more sustainable practices.
Digital tracking systems can also help firms to improve efficiency by automating many of the manual processes associated with tracking. For example, digital systems can automatically capture and store data in real time, eliminating the need for manual data entry and record-keeping. Digital tracking systems can also provide real-time tracking information, which can help companies to make more informed and timely decisions. In addition, digital tracking systems can facilitate communication and collaboration between different teams and departments, helping to streamline processes and improve efficiency.
Another potential benefit of digital tracking systems is their ability to improve the quality of products and activities. Digital tracking systems can provide more accurate and comprehensive tracking information, which can help firms ensure that products and activities meet the required standards and specifications. Digital tracking systems can also provide analytics and reporting capabilities, which can help organisations to identify trends and patterns that may impact quality.
Digital tracking systems can also have a positive impact on safety. For example, digital tracking systems can help organisations more effectively track and manage safety-critical items, such as equipment and hazardous materials. Digital tracking systems can also help organisations to monitor and manage safety processes and procedures, such as training and incident reporting.
Overall, digital tracking systems can provide a range of benefits that can help organisations to improve sustainability, efficiency, quality, and safety. By carefully considering their traceability requirements and choosing the system that best meets their needs- organisations can take advantage of these benefits and enhance their operations.
Various Use Cases
Traceability can identify products, activities, or processes in many ways. For example, traceability can be used to identify products by their customers, allowing organisations to track which customers are using which products and to provide them with relevant information or support. Traceability can determine the products by the manufacturer, allowing organisations to track a product’s production history and identify any issues that may have occurred during production. In addition, traceability can be used to identify products or services by the service providers, allowing firms to track which service providers are responsible for which products or services and to ensure that they meet the required standards and specifications.
Traceability can also be applied to monitor various factors, such as condition, budget, quality, and time. For example, traceability can be used to monitor the condition of a product or asset, allowing organisations to track any changes in condition and to identify any potential issues before they become serious problems. Traceability gives a chance to keep an eye on budget and cost information, allowing organisations to track their spending and define areas where cost savings could be made. In addition, traceability can be used to track the quality of products or services, allowing organisations identify issues that may affect the quality and take corrective action as necessary. What is more, traceability allows to monitor time, allowing companies to track how long different activities or processes are taking and to identify any bottlenecks or inefficiencies.
Traceability can serve as a means to monitor the manufacturing procedures of a product, enabling companies to detect any potential concerns or complications that might have arisen during production and take appropriate measures to address them. Traceability can also be used to track shipments, allowing organisations to track the location and status of products as they are transported from one place to another. This can be particularly useful for organisations that must ensure that products are delivered on time and in good condition.
One example of a success story involving traceability is the implementation of a digital traceability system by the seafood company Thai Union. Thai Union faced challenges with traceability in its supply chain, as it sourced seafood from a wide range of suppliers and faced issues with sustainability and transparency. To address these challenges, the Thai Union implemented a digital traceability system using blockchain technology, which allowed it to track the movement of seafood from the point of capture to the final consumer. The system gave the Thai Union with a more accurate and transparent view of its supply chain, allowing it to monitor sustainability, quality, and compliance better. As a result of the implementing this traceability system, Thai Union was able to improve its sustainability practices, enhance the transparency of its supply chain, and improve its reputation with customers and stakeholders.
One example of a failure story related to traceability is the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill that was caused by an explosion on an offshore drilling rig, is one of the largest and most devastating environmental disasters in history. One of the factors that committed to the severity of the disaster was the lack of traceability in the supply chain for the drilling rig. Transocean owned and operated the rig, but Cameron International manufactured the blowout preventer that failed to prevent the explosion. There was a lack of traceability in the supply chain for the blowout preventer, as Cameron International had outsourced the manufacture of specific components to other companies, making it difficult to trace the origin of the components and to identify any potential issues or problems. The lack of traceability in the supply chain made it difficult to recognize the disaster’s root cause and hold the responsible parties accountable.
In conclusion, digital tracking systems offer a range of benefits that make them superior to manual tracking systems in many circumstances. Digital systems have the ability to record and save information immediately, which decreases the chances of mistakes and things being left out. They can also provide more detailed and comprehensive tracking information, incorporating various data sources and providing analytics and reporting capabilities. In addition, digital tracking systems can positively impact sustainability, efficiency, quality, and safety. While manual tracking systems may still have their place in certain circumstances, the benefits of digital tracking systems make them a valuable tool for organisations looking to improve their traceability and supply chain management. In our Digital Maturity Index, traceability is one of the topics we focus on to enhance your enterprise with the full benefits of digital. You can click on the link to learn more.