GS1 announces industry-led National Traceability Advisory Group

GS1 Australia, a not-for-profit standards organisation, has announced the establishment of an industry-led National Traceability Advisory Group.

The Advisory Group will provide advice on global standards for trade and traceability based on industry need and aligned with the role of government to ensure Australian industry maintains and builds sustainable capability, international market access and global competitiveness.

“The primary objective of the Advisory Group is to inform GS1 Australia on the requirements of industry and government for traceability standards,” said Marcel Sieira, chief customer officer at GS1 Australia.

“The group will play a key role in communicating, educating and co-defining a roadmap with industry and government for implementing end-to-end traceability and trade modernisation in Australia.”

GS1 Australia will not only provide the secretariat support for this industry group as well as providing expert, trusted advice and global best practices.

Ram Akella, business partner focusing on product traceability within the Woolworths Group has been appointed chair of the Advisory Group.

Woolworths Group has been actively participating in shaping the National Traceability Framework and taking a leadership position in demonstrating new ways to enable full traceability from the farm to the store.

“Global supply chains are continually being tested. This has been made more evident through recent, unprecedented events such as the global pandemic,” said Akella.

“Australian industry is well-positioned to lead and leverage the next wave of transformation and innovation in global and domestic markets based on enhanced traceability and trust.

“This transformation will require all sectors of industry and government to align on open global identification and data standards. The Advisory Group is a key step in bringing together key industry stakeholders from all sectors of the economy and segments of our supply chain who share a common interest in enhancing product traceability.”

Supporting industry during COVID-19 crisis

As early as March this year, Australian governments recognised mounting pressure on supply chains to meet the surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). As national infection rates accelerated, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it best when she gave a run down on what was needed to make sure Australia got through the crisis as best it could in terms of PPE gear. “The world is running short on hand sanitiser, hand wash, soap, gloves, cleaning products, protective clothing, masks, eye wear and paper products.” It was an industry call to arms.

The food and beverage industry wasted no time. Entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country rose to the challenge.

These included the likes of former Australian cricketer Shane Warne’s gin distillery situated in Western Australia, through to stalwart Tasmanian whisky makers at Lark Distilling Co. promptly setting about pivoting their production lines to address the shortage of essential PPE products.

In early April 2020, GS1 Australia launched a program to provide Australian companies who were re-tooling to meet the national need for PPE, with supporting services at no charge.
This includes membership, identification numbers for barcodes, assistance in creating and testing new barcodes, and access to national registries to enable their quick transition into the new market. Over 30 companies registered in the first 24 hours.

One of the firms GS1 Australia has been able to assist through the program is Lark Distilling Co., manufacturers of world famous ‘Lark’ branded whisky, who took decisive action in response to the demand for PPE products in Tasmanian hospitals.

“As soon as the COVID-19 crisis hit we made a very fast decision to pivot into sanitiser production, with the express aim of alleviating the shortage for frontline medical and emergency services,” said Dan Knight, head of hospitality at Lark Distilling Co.

“However, once we began production we were overwhelmed with enquiries from people and businesses across the entire state. The world was scrambling to find sanitiser, but being on an island, that is cut off from the mainland, our supply shortage was even more pressing.

“After our first batch of sanitiser, we set the goal of ensuring the continuous supply of World Health Organisation-approved sanitiser to all of Tasmania, for the length of the crisis and beyond. The challenge has been to ensure the supply of raw materials and packaging, and it has taken the collective resources of an entire community to make this happen.
“I am forever grateful to our suppliers and organisations like GS1 for their support, and I am in awe of what we have been able to achieve in such a short time, by working as one in the face of a common threat.”

“We want to ensure that new suppliers to the health industry who are re-tooling to manufacture PPE products get express but comprehensive support for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis in Australia,” said Maria Palazzolo, GS1 Australia’s chief executive officer and executive director.

“Our priority right now is to support the sector that is supporting our community,”

Simplifying and integrating the supply chain journey

Consumers’ daily lives revolve around trust. Every day, when peeling an orange, opening a can of baked beans or dining in a favourite restaurant, consumers put their trust in Australia’s food supply chain.

Behind every food and beverage product on the shelf is a supply chain journey that starts with ingredients. The Australian food manufacturing industry is an intricate maze of ingredient and packaging suppliers, most with different supply chain management solutions.

Today, sourcing ingredients without a traceability and food safety protocol invites counterfeit products onto the food chain and an increased risk of contamination. News of unsafe or spoilt food can impact business owner’s livelihoods and the industry’s broader reputation, along with disruption to consumer’s lives.

“To manage ingredient safety and increase the visibility of food ingredients and raw materials in these complex supply chains, a new initiative, the Supply Chain Improvement project, is being implemented using GS1 standards,” said GS1 Australian account director Andrew Steele. “The project’s objective is strengthening integration between the thousands of upstream supply chains in the Australian food manufacturing industry.”

An industry working group has been set up to drive the project using the GS1 global standards for product identification, data capture and data sharing. GS1’s Global Traceability Standard (GTS) is the foremost traceability framework, allowing businesses to track their products in real-time and have end-to-end visibility of the supply chain.

“The group will work to achieve consensus across the industry to improve food safety, deliver efficiencies and reduce costs,” said Steele.

Representatives from Nestlé, Ingham’s, SPC, Lion Dairy and Drinks, Sanitarium, CHR Hansen, Newly Weds Foods, FPC Food Plastics, Labelmakers, Matthews Australasia and Visy Industries make up the group.

The ability for companies to capture material movements from ‘paddock-to-plate’ provides data integrity and timeliness from receipt to delivery, with traceability back to the source. Through automation, many of the manual processes are eliminated and businesses can be proactive with inventory management and handling systems.

“As a food and beverage business it’s critical for us from a food safety perspective to be able to track ingredients all the way back to the origin,” said SPC’s national logistics manager, Christian Lecompte.

Also critical to business is the capability to support information and production flow within existing systems for integrated supply chains. The project has the capacity to eliminate waste within an organisation’s value stream, reduce non-value-added tasks and ensure cost-effective solutions for customers, leading to a ‘right-first-time’ approach for all deliveries.

“One of the things we found we could do to be more efficient was to look at opportunities to be able to electronically track all the product ingredients throughout the production cycle – how we identify a product coming into the warehouses, how we receipt goods, how we put our goods away, how we manage our inventory and how we deal with our suppliers,” said Lecompte.

The adoption of GS1 standards as the common language for the identification, data capture and data sharing will enable automation of key ingredient sourcing, and traceability between ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers. Using GS1 standards for upstream integration goes well beyond minimum standards and allows businesses to translate their internal processes and approaches into the one common language that all trading partners can use and understand, without having to translate data formats across different supply chain management systems. This is the key as Steele believes interoperability is essential to the future of data sharing.

“Establishing international standards to ensure transparency across the supply chain can help lower existing barriers to the exchange of data between suppliers, trading partners and consumers,” he said.

The Supply Chain Improvement Project has the potential to deliver many benefits to industry, including increased visibility of food ingredients and raw materials, unique identification and traceability to improve food safety, and reduced costs with automated business transactions.

Nestle Australia’s head of digital supply chain, Mandeep Sodhi pointed out the key to the project’s success. “By having consensus across the industry on how to interconnect electronically and exchange critical operational data, we can realise cost-effective solutions across the end-to-end – from manufacturers, to suppliers, to customers – everyone benefits from this improvement in standardisation,” he said.

Looking ahead, the industry working group is encouraging all upstream businesses to adopt the food safety and traceability protocol using GS1 standards.

“With an industry-wide solution in place, your trading partners will have more visibility of your products across the supply chain,” said Steele.

A barcoded apple is more important than you may realise

What is the significance of barcoding every single apple in a mountain of fruit at the supermarket? It seems a tedious process when an apple is surely just an apple. But, an apple is much more than what is seen at face value.

It comes with a history – a place of origin, a past in which it was grown in specific soil and shipped in a certain container.

This is valuable information, even for the humble apple, as a food recall could affect any product at any time.

Many products go through a number of processes before landing on a consumer’s plate.

READ: GS1 Australia and Drinks Association join forces to drive industry standards

Unfortunately, there have been many instances where products are recalled for a number of reasons.

Products are often recalled due to potential presence of glass or metal, or e.coli contamination.

Items can also be nixed in cases where cross contamination occurs, such as wheat being present in a gluten-free product.

In August alone, Food Standards Australia New Zealand warned of nine products that had been recalled due to undeclared allergens or the presence of foreign matter.

Keeping track of products

To help keep track of products, GS1 Australia offers barcode numbers based on current global standards as well as services to help its clients trace items and action recalls with ease.

GS1 Australia recall services sales manager, Andrew Brown, said the traceability of products was important, including for fresh produce such as apples.

In early 2018, rock melons from one Australian producer needed to be recalled. It became a difficult task as it was hard to distinguish the good rock melons from the contaminated ones, Brown said.

This resulted in many rock melons being taken off Australian shelves that were not necessarily in the recalled batch, or from that particular company. “Because the rock melons weren’t labelled, it had a big impact.

Most retailers and all consumers didn’t know which rock melons were affected and which ones weren’t. So the impact wasn’t just on the company that had the product issue, it also flowed on to the rest of the industry,” he said.

“That instance showed it is important to identify which products had been affected to facilitate the quarantine of only the affected ones.”

In instances where products aren’t labelled properly, retailers often take all similar products off the shelf to be on the safe side, he said.

GS1 Australia works with the fresh product market to get products labelled correctly. Barcoding fresh produce is becoming more popular as people understand the importance of it, he said.

Labels help from an environmental impact as well. Having labels on fresh produce and other products saves food from ending up as rubbish if it is actually ok to sell, he said.

“Our role at GS1 is to help industry in these situations. The more that get on board, the greater the benefit for other companies.”

Working for a common goal

GS1 is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help food industries by minimising waste and harm. “The recall portal was designed by industry for industry,” said Brown.

GS1 Australia helps companies beyond the barcode. GS1 gives companies the power to figure out how much of a product may be affected.

For example, this could be based on where a particular product was packaged rather than where it was grown. “They need to be able to know what products have gone where and why,” said Brown. The same cereal may have been made in different factories and may not all need a recall, for instance.

GS1 Australia could help companies find out how, where and when products were moved to a new location, he said. “GS1 facilitates not just traceability, we help conduct the recall,” said Brown.

Getting prepared before a crisis hits

A company needs to be able to ask its trading partners, such as supermarkets, to action a recall as soon as possible. “Companies need to prepared to act in a crisis,” said Brown.

“In lots of situations, in most organisations within the food industry, they will have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points programme or another food safety programme designed to stop these situations occurring. But in most instances, we would expect that a product recall comes from an unforeseen situation,” he said.

“What we help organisations do as part of a mock programme, is create a template recall notice. That template enables them to go into a product recall meeting prepared to get the right information, rather than having that meeting, going away and filling out forms, and then having more meetings.” Communicating well in the first instance is key, said Brown.

Having worked with numerous companies, Brown realises that many companies aren’t prepared for recalls.

This means that when a product is recalled, it can take days to action as phone calls and email communication go back and forth, he said.

“There’s a time factor that’s very important. You want to get that notice up as quickly as possible. Getting prepared and having a structure is very important.

“A company has to identify what part of production is affected, and then find out all the locations the product went to.

“If they’ve got all the information together, they can probably get a notice done in 20 minutes for a recall, but the limiting factor is having all of the information at hand,” said Brown.

Recalling products quickly, also helps keep a brand’s reputation intact, he said. “Consumers want to feel like they can buy your products again.”

 

 

GS1 Australia and Drinks Association join forces to drive industry standards

GS1 Australia and the Drinks Association have announced a new strategic partnership to drive industry standards development and adoption to improve business and supply chain efficiency in the drinks industry.

GS1 Australia executive director and chief executive officer Maria Palazzolo said the company is delighted to be working with the Drinks Association for the benefit of members, many of whom have membership in both organisations.

“Through this partnership we have a much better opportunity to engage with the drinks industry to support and help strengthen supply chain operations through the adoption of GS1 standards and services.”

In recognition of the importance of the National Product Catalogue (NPC) to creating business efficiencies and a common language around product level data between retailers, manufacturers, brand owners and distributors, an NPC Advisory Group will be formed in late 2018.

READ: GS1 Australia signs agreement with new partners

Improving the quality of product data being shared across the drinks sector will be one of the key objectives of the NPC advisory group.

The two-year partnership will also seek to develop new services as well as embed existing services more fully into the drinks supply chain to streamline the identification and movement of goods for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Drinks Association CEO Georgia Lennon said the association is pleased to partner with GS1 to drive industry standards and services for the betterment of its members and the industry overall.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with GS1 on the development of innovative solutions and support our members to create business efficiencies,” said Lennon,

As far as possible this partnership will actively collaborate with industry to enhance inventory accuracy and visibility, improve digital capability, leverage new technologies and support regulatory compliance.

GS1 is a neutral, not-for-profit organisation that develops and maintains the most widely used global standards for efficient business communication.

The Drinks Association is a whole of industry association owned by its members.

Profits are reinvested into the growth of the business and into the development of commonly required relevant services aiming to inform the liquor industry with goals of strengthening and creating a financially sound business within the drinks industry.

ALC Board endorses adoption of global data standards

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and GS1 Australia have made a significant step toward the adoption and implementation of global data standards (GDS) to improve freight visibility and supply chain efficiencies in the logistics industry.

Acting on a recommendation from the ALC Technology Committee, the ALC Board has endorsed a policy statement that outlines, “ALC and its members work towards the adoption of GDS by all participants in the Australian logistics industry”.

The decision is driven by Austroads’ research report AP-R538-17 – Investigating the Potential Benefits of Enhanced End to End Supply Chain Visibility, which was released in March 2017.

The report was followed by the inquiry report into the Priorities for a National Freight Strategy, in May 2018.

READ: GS1 Australia signs agreement with new partners

The Report from this inquiry encouraged “the adoption of global data standards and collaborative electronic platforms across all freight modes to streamline the exchange, comparison and understanding of data within the land, sea and air freight sectors.

ALC’s interim CEO Lachlan Benson said ALC, its members and the industry would now work towards adopting and promoting the Australian freight labelling and transport data exchange guidelines.

Based on GS1 global supply chain standards and best practice, the Australian freight labelling guideline and Australian Transport EDI guidelines provide one common label format for consistent identification of freight units and one common data file format to exchange data throughout the freight transportation process.

GS1 Australia senior manager for freight, logistics and industrial sectors, Bonnie Ryan, said the Austroads’ report examined industry pilots across multiple complex logistic supply chains operated by Toll Group, Nestlé and Liberty OneSteel to investigate end-to-end supply chain visibility improvements on multi-leg transport corridors using GS1 standards.

The supply chain visibility pilots demonstrated the use of global data standards would result in real-time visibility across multiple legs of a transport journey from origin to destination, improve interoperability across different service providers by leveraging a common tracking identifier, and increase productivity and reduce costs in the end-to-end supply chain.

“Based on the pilot findings, the economic benefit to Australia could exceed $1 billion,” said Ryan.

To achieve end-to-end supply chain visibility and to support new technologies such as blockchain, it is necessary to establish common data standards for the consistent serialised identification and labelling of freight and transport units.

“GS1 supply chain standards enable parties across the supply chain to operate more efficiently with improved freight visibility using a common standard for identifying, labelling and sharing data relating to the movement of freight units,” said Ryan.

The ALC Technology Committee is now working to develop a proposed timeline for the adoption of the standards to be presented to the ALC Board for approval.

 

GS1 Australia signs agreement with new partners

A deal between two companies allows for GS1 customers to import their data onto the Glow platform.

Inline research and insights platform Glow has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with GS1 Australia, as well as a separate agreement to become a GS1 Associate Alliance Partner.

The MoU was signed by Tim Clover, director, Glow Australia and Mark Fuller, chief operating officer and deputy CEO at GS1 Australia, to formalise the partnership roadmap for integrating GS1 Australia’s Smart Media solution with the Glow platform for the benefit of GS1 members.

READ: GS1 Australia/ retailers collaborate to get suppliers ready for CoOL

“The MoU signing symbolises a partnership that we believe will lead to many opportunities for GS1 members to leverage Glow’s customer insight ecosystem to grow product lifecycle ROI. We now provide GS1 members with a simple method for importing their product data into the Glow platform,” said Clover.

The Glow platform makes it easier to collect, understand and use data to make more informed decisions.

It combines self-service research tools with off-shelf insights publications to provide value to a broad range of business users in a common, accessible format.

“The integration of the Glow platform with Smart Media, our digital marketing solution, will provide exceptional benefits to our members,” said John Hearn, head of data and digital content services, GS1 Australia.

“As 70 per cent of our members are small- to medium-sized businesses, access to the Glow platform will make consumer insights available at an affordable price, compared to other market research methods.”

Following the signing of the MoU, Glow also entered the GS1 Alliance Partner Program as an Associate Alliance Partner on Tuesday.

“Our entry into the GS1 Australia Alliance Partner Program as an Associate Alliance Partner signifies our commitment to providing GS1 members with products and services. This includes online surveys, which will provide brand owners and manufacturers with direct feedback from consumers about packaging appeal, shopper behaviours, intent to buy and much more,” said Glover.

“We welcome Glow into the Alliance Partner Program with an affordable solution to help our GS1 members positively influence their new product development projects. It will also help with the launch of new products with easy access to consumer insights,” said Sean Sloan, GS1 Australia’s manager – business development and partnerships.

“We are excited to enter into these strategic partnerships with GS1 Australia to support and help local GS1 members to grow their businesses and reach their potential through research and data available on the Glow platform,” added Clover.