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[ TECHNOLOGY ] Track and trace technologies are revolutionising transport logistics

Delivery routes and whereabouts in real time A new era has begun in the transport and logistics sector. Instead of tables and index cards, telephone inquiries and tedious searches on maps, today one just has to take a look at the computer screen or the smartphone to ďŹ nd out where a delivery is at that particular moment in time. Ground-breaking innovations such as barcodes, RFID, data loggers or GPS provide a wealth of data and are also asserting themselves in the seafood industry.


y smartphone reports that my order is now on its way to me. The package is expected to arrive at the stated address between 3 and 4 pm. On top of that, a message promises me that by entering the given individual code in the search field on the courier service’s website I can track the whereabouts of the delivery. Messages like these are nowadays hardly more than everyday routine and are not rarely ignored. Probably only few people are aware of the enormous logistical achievements behind this concept, or of the effort that is required for millions of packages to be accurately recorded and correctly distributed so that they arrive punctually at their destinations. And as if this were not enough, the logistics companies also offer as an additional service an option for tracking the package... “Tracking and tracing�, or “Track & Trace�, is the technology that enables seamless monitoring of individual deliveries and products within the value chains. Track & Trace has revolutionized the logistics sector worldwide. What might feel like a bit of fun as I look to see how far my package has got on its journey to my front door can hardly be overestimated

in its significance for the trade of goods at both national and international level and, indeed, for the whole economy. Track & Trace makes it possible to monitor and report the departure and arrival of an object, irrespective of whether it is a pallet, a container or a vehicle. The exact whereabouts and any movement of the object are identified and recorded so that the delivery route can be accurately traced. A real flood of data spills over the companies: places, times and a lot of other information about the objects are collected and stored for retrieval at any time. Together they constitute the foundation on which almost all traceability systems are today built, whether they span business operations or vast continents. Without Track & Trace, global efforts to fight IUU fishing would have little prospect of success. Track & Trace is the basis for recall actions in the food, pharmaceutical, toys, and other sectors. Over the last few years a whole industry has developed around these topics, offering software and hardware for intelligent traceability systems, service and consulting for almost every application. And this development is ongoing, and the solutions and tools are becoming increasingly powerful and more user-friendly.

Container transport by ship is of central importance in world trade with seafood. The containers’ routes can be tracked in real time using GPS tracking systems.

Barcodes are now standard in industry Although in some parts of the global fish industry advanced trace technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) are in the meantime used increasingly, barcoding is still the most common and most widely used method. Barcodes are not technically demanding, they provide sufficient security, and supply all the information required for reliable traceability systems – and they don’t cost much. This means they are also suitable for small businesses. The basic idea of the barcode is simple: all relevant product data are “translated� into

a sequence of parallel bars and gaps of different widths which can be read and processed electronically using optical readers such as special scanners or cameras. In essence, the principle is similar to data encryption in numeric and alphanumeric code formats. Many producers are now going one step further and transforming their product information into two-dimensional data matrix barcodes which allow maximum data densities on an extremely small area because the information is encrypted in black and white “cells�. The best-known example of such 2D matrix barcodes is probably the QR codes which can be scanned by smartphone and




Profile for Eurofish

Eurofish Magazine 5 2017  

Featuring Albania's fisheries and aquaculture sector, this issue also looks at EU and Japan's trade agreement while the fisheries section co...

Eurofish Magazine 5 2017  

Featuring Albania's fisheries and aquaculture sector, this issue also looks at EU and Japan's trade agreement while the fisheries section co...

Profile for eurofish