Track and Tracing: Barcode Scanner for TPD Compliance

The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) requires special logistics planning that reaches well beyond major supply chain hubs. Track and trace technology must include transfer points not typically considered critical with supply chain best practices – also known as the ‘long tail’.

Why? Because of the TPD’s traceability system requirements for the EU.

Under Article 15, all tobacco ‘unit packets’ that fall under the TPD must display a unique identifier, including information on location and manufacturing date, intended destination, etc. By scanning the TPD barcode, the transfer of those unit packets can be recorded at every point in the supply chain from manufacturing to the “first retail outlet” – i.e. where the unit packets are first made available to the public.

In this way, the traceability system enables public authorities in the EU to determine if the unit packet is legal and also at what point it may have been diverted.

Why is this different from typical supply chain management?

You must consider what the first retail outlet really means and how many origination and destination points actually handle the tracked unit packet (or ‘aggregated packaging’) before reaching the final destination.

At first, you might think the barcode needs to be scanned only a few times, and that they will be scanned in enterprise-level environments.

  • 1st Scan – Shipment from Manufacturer
  • 2nd Scan – Receipt by Distributor
  • 3rd Scan – Shipment to Retailer

The Reality with Track and Tracing Tobacco Product Assets

The above list is incomplete in a number of ways, especially considering the reality of how many actual touch points there are to get to the first retail outlet. Here’s a more realistic flow:

  • 1st Scan – Shipment from Manufacturer
  • 2nd Scan – Receipt by Importer
  • 3rd Scan – Shipment from Importer
  • 4th Scan – Receipt by Regional Wholesaler
  • 5th Scan – Shipment from Regional Wholesaler
  • 6th Scan – Receipt by First Retail Outlet

Not too bad, right? Wrong!

Consider the number of wholesalers there are and, critically, the number of logistics companies required to actually deliver the unit packets (or MOQ lots) to the first retail outlet.

There are thousands of logistics companies in the EU. Though not all will be involved in delivering tobacco products, those that are will be required to minimally scan the ‘aggregated packaging’ barcode for every transfer until finally delivered to the first retail outlet.

Also, consider that for each transfer, there’s a delivery agent and a recipient agent. In many cases, both agents may need a record of the transfer for liability concerns unless the transfer data is shared.

How will thousands of EU logistics companies track and trace under TPD rules?

This is where codeREADr can help. Over the past 10 years, codeREADr’s mobile apps and web services have enabled enterprises to solve complex, rule-based data capture requirements.

Our integrated web service is an open SaaS platform built for IT departments.  This allows for global configuration of the mobile apps for capturing targeted data based on contextual filters defined in their custom workflows.

Uniquely, the mobile app can be installed on both purpose-built scanning devices as well as iOS and Android OS smartphones and tablets.  Using the built in camera of those devices, our SD PRO scan engine instantly and accurately capture Dot Code, Data Matrix, QR and Code 128 barcodes – plus 40 other barcode types.

They are remotely controlled by IT administrators without ever having physical possession of the devices. The configuration is automatically downloaded from the cloud upon sign-in to the mobile app using admin-authorized credentials.

The resulting scan records from the mobile app can be posted to codeREADr AWS servers, or directly to a client’s server or third-party servers.

Critically, codeREADr technology offers both real-time data validation in the cloud and instant, offline, auto-synced validation if there’s no Internet or LAN connectivity on location.

Long tail track and tracing in the supply chain

The bottom line is that the codeREADr platform allows IT administrators to capture the necessary data across thousands of locations, including the who, what, when, where, how and why for each transfer  – all for $1.99 to $14.99 per month per device.