Intelligent Printing to Increase Supply Chain Security

Richard Scott, European Product Manager at SATO, said that when an organisation is able to give a printer an identity within a larger communications system and enable it to not only receive information but also relay information to other objects, it has major potential for traceability. Then, such traceability will improve data accuracy which in turn, helps deliver greater supply chain security.

In some context, customers demand to not only know the location of the goods they are requesting but also to know the cost of whether their goods are the one they need. For example, in the case of pharmaceutical delivery where the prevention of counterfeit drugs is important, customers would want to know whether every ingredient contained in their goods can be traced to its original production source or not. Needless to say, traceability is the key driver for customer satisfaction.

In general terms, traceability is a capability to trace something. In supply chain delivery, it is interpreted as the ability to verify history, location, or application of an item by means of documented recorded identification. The quest for traceability has not only stimulated developments in labelling technology, but it also demands some serious evolution of organisation’s printing hardware, added Scott.

The role of printing to supply chain security

Traditionally, printing plays a passive role which adds less value when it comes to traceability. However, when a printer is given an identity, they can be a good solution to ensure security and timely delivery of certain products to certain customers.

In the whitepaper, Scott names the “active printer” as an Application-Enabled Printing (AEP). This printer can print without being connected to a PC. It can also pull information from sources such as Cloud or customer database in order to compile information required, such as drug ingredient. According to SATO, here are five benefits of the new printing technology.

  • It can receive data directly from peripheral devices such as barcode scanner, keyboard, weight scale, or other connected devices
  • It can process data and manipulate label format variables independently
  • It can interact with the host database or ERP systems
  • It can read and write data to and from a printer-resident look-up table
  • It has access to external device control such as cloud communication for external database access

All in all, the new revolution of this printer device will likely save supply chain company to ensure customer satisfaction whenever needed. Traceability is a fundamental requirement of digitalisation. It is, therefore, more important than ever to provide detailed information via an accurate label or electronic tag such as AEP.

Read also: The Impact of Tariff Uncertainty on Logistics & Supply Chain

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