Delft University of Technology
Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Transport Technology / Logistic Engineering

J.B.C. Hoebeek Traceability of distributed defects in fast-moving consumer markets.
Literature survey, Report 95.3.LT.4511, Transport Technology, Logistic Engineering.

Fast-moving consumer markets are demand areas for products which are usually produced in batches, distributed in high volumes, and directly used by individual end customers. Distributed defects are quality non-conformities of product or packaging, which are found already in distribution channels or in the market itself. Traceability refers to the ability of a company to locate individual batches or even units of products in the total logistics chain. The issue of traceability of distributed defects is therefore generally an attention area of quality assurance.

Under pressure of today's competition on the fast-moving consumer markets, the issue of quality assurance has regained the attention and awareness of companies operating on these markets. Important trigger for this trend is that, obviously, customer intimacy can easily be lost when product or packaging defects occur or even are being distributed. However, most efforts are currently put into curing the symptoms of this kind of accidents commercially or legally.

Distribution processes are additionally influenced by cost reduction requirements. Specifically, the combination of these trends results into faster moving of goods, more flexibility during manufacturing, broader product ranges, variation/differentiation of products and raw materials, shorter lead times and smaller stocks. These recent developments call for a modification of the quality assurance around distribution of goods; i.e. next to the commercial and legal solutions for distributed defects problems mentioned before, more physical challenges like tracking, tracing and identification are found at distribution.

Tracing of individual batches and/or single units of products can be done effectively by using information systems and electronic messaging techniques in the administration. However, this effectiveness disappears immediately when the registration of the physical situation of production and distribution is not executed timely, accurately and reliably. This emphasizes the need for proper registration (i.e. identification) to monitor individual product processes and product moves.

To improve the traceability of distributed defects in fast-moving consumer markets it is therefore recommended to choose an appropriate product identification technique. A quick choice can be made by assessing a diagram which displays the functionality ranges of available techniques depending on the batch size and total trade volume of the product to be identified. An area for further study is to quantify the exact values of critical batch sizes and total trade volumes, so the diagram can be used in an absolute sense rather than in a relative sense.

Reports on Logistic Engineering (in Dutch)
Modified: 2000.05.30; , TU Delft / 3mE / TT / LT.