The benefits of Project i-TRACE were clearly demonstrated at the GS1 stand, with three certified barcoding partners showcasing how barcode and scanning technologies were used.
Project i-TRACE was initiated by the rail industry and the ARA to digitise inventory management, automate all steps in the supply chain and provide critical information throughout the life cycle of a product, part or component using ISO certified GS1 global data standards.
Project i-TRACE standards provide a common and consistent digital “language” to be used between stakeholders in the rail supply chain. Participating organisations can use the system to meet global data standards and support the growing use of automation, leverage data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to drive new efficiency gains and cost savings in their operations.
At AusRAIL PLUS, Trotec Laser exhibited its latest SpeedMarker 700 laser workstation with 3D capability, which has a SpeedMark Vision positioning camera and an additional smart camera for barcode data verification.
General manager Mark Luft said the laser used the company’s proprietary SpeedMark software which can run everything from simple barcode formats to dynamic data linked to a customer’s ERP system, or fully integrated with material handling equipment such as robots and conveyors.
“We showed customers that adding an industrial laser to the manufacturing process not only allows for the addition of compliant barcodes and traceability, but also gives manufacturers the ability to add value through branding and other marking,” he said.
Luft said being a certified GS1 partner was extremely important for the business.
“Firstly, having an intimate understanding of the GS1 standards and requirements means we are able to work with our customers more effectively,” he said.
“Then knowing that our machines and software are capable of generating fully compliant barcodes that have been verified by GS1 means customers can be confident that a Trotec laser marking solution will not only work, but we can guide new users through the laser marking process as well as the GS1 requirements, making implementation seamless and complete.”
Luft said it was important for rail suppliers to use certified i-TRACE partners to mark and barcode their assets and components.
“Put simply, there’s no point adding traceability markings to a product if they can’t be read,” he said.
Also at the stand, Australian labelling, coding and marking supplier insignia focused on a wide variety of technologies such as scanners, tablets, mobile computers (RF Guns) that allowed capture and use of data accurately, quickly and easily.
The company’s product specialist Craig Zammit said insignia boasted a wide range of options for labelling and marking in the rail industry, with each solution requiring a different application, for example adhesive thermal direct and thermal transfer labels, ink jet coding, CO2 and fibre Laser coding.
“But marking and coding is only part of the solution. Once an item is labelled or marked, it needs to have the capability to be read and data entered into asset tracking systems,” he said.
Zammit said being a GS1 certified partner provided organisations with the assurance that their methods are certified to industry standards, and would have the capability to be traced throughout the entire rail ecosystem, from manufacture to installation and use.
“Non-compliant suppliers’ counterfeit products can lead to failed coding and traceability in the supply chain, so it’s important to partner with a knowledgeable, experienced partner like insignia who can guarantee delivery to industry specifications,” he said.
“It is essential that you can not only apply a code to your assets and components, but that the code will endure the conditions they’re subjected to for the duration and lifespan that is required.
“Using a certified partner like insignia will ensure your product has the correct barcode, first time, every time. It also provides assurance that solutions provided by insignia meet the data and label/plate requirements of Project i-TRACE.”
Visitors observed how to correctly label, identify, capture and trace assets and components and through the entire supply chain, with hands-on demonstrations of equipment by insignia’s experts.
Another GS1 partner, Zebra Technologies, demonstrated its solutions for printing and encoding barcode labels and RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags, displaying the latest best-of-breed technology in automatic identification solutions and asset tracking systems.
Sales manager Colin Hughes said i-TRACE certification provided proof that the company was following best practice principles for standardising traceability and transparency of products and assets in the supply chain.
“It’s vital for industry to use certified partners because this ensures they are complying and adhering to current standards, and obtaining the right information and knowledge from organisations that have tried and tested solutions and know what they are doing,” he said.