In what is being touted as the industrial visibility era, more and more companies are employing track and trace technology to stay in the game. Consumer goods giant Unilever recently announced that they will be using geo-location technology to gain and provide more transparency into their palm oil supply chains.
In order to track the palm oil farm to table journey through thousands of supply chains and gain insight on its first mile traceability, the multinational will enable this technology through the use of geo-location data on cell phones. Having conducted a test run in Indonesia, they now plan to scale up the process to incorporate all other palm facilities such as farms, refineries and processing plants in the Southeast Asia region, and are examining the possibility of implementing the same technology in other regions.
The company acquires around 1 million tons of palm oil and palm kernel oil every year, making it one of Unilever’s most integral raw ingredients. This cheaper option of edible oil is used in a number of products like cosmetics, soaps, chocolate and even ice cream; and although the most integral, it is also however one of their most controversial raw ingredients. Hasty expansions of plantations in order to produce and supply this extremely versatile oil has led to much destruction of wildlife and burning of tropical rainforests. The layered and complex nature of these supply chains that start with millions of hectares of land prove to be an extreme challenge in terms of industry insight and visibility. By implementing track and trace technology, Unilever is determined to create more transparency in the industry and better position themselves to assess environmental risks. Their aim is to have all their supply chains be completely ‘deforestation-free’ by 2033.
Depending on the industry, achieving transparency into the first mile of supply chains can be extremely challenging. Crops like palm oil fruit for example can be harvested in many different areas of land owned by different farmers, and could end up being mixed with raw materials from other plantations before actually even reaching the mill. Using geo-location data and advanced track and trace technology to monitor this movement paves the way forward for a more transparent process of every step of the supply chain.
Consumers are the driving force behind this extremely significant shift in demand for visibility. Across all industries, consumers have become more conscious about the ‘sustainability factor’ of not only the products they are purchasing but also the raw materials that have gone into making those products. Willingly or unwillingly companies have had to meet this demand by making clear to their customers that they have complete transparency into not only the source of their raw materials, but also the ethical conditions of how those raw materials are produced. Our track and trace technology offers complete visibility into multiple layers of the supply chain, providing monitoring methods with enhanced transparency. Our technology is applicable to the food industry and creates a direct connection to the journey of food items from farm to table. Creating a standard of transparency is becoming one of the integral foundations of any company’s brand image today.