This paper discusses the reasoning behind the associations and how the power can be transposed through EyA for companies and organisations to perform rapid traces in many sectors.
Asset associations are the very basis of the entire track and trace ability within EyA and exposed using the track and trace API from Track and Trace Technologies(T&T), a joint venture between our top-level company, Universal Asset Sciences.
This paper discusses the reasoning behind the associations and how the power can be transposed through the T&T API for companies and organisations to perform rapid traces in many sectors.
For this paper, a meat product is used to demonstrate the complex track and trace journey throughout its lifecycle and through processing to supply chain and consumer purchase and consumption.
It is important to understand the plethora of associations throughout the lifecycle of any entity and cattle provides a real-life tangible analogy.
As discussed in the case study for the agriculture sector for Organic Trace Technologies, a partner of EyA- Cattle lifecycle, traceability and supply chain - Case Study, traceability is now under more demand than ever before with so many “touch points” throughout the entire lifecycle of a product. Moving beyond the general tracing, this discussion looks at the various touch points and how these may lead to reasons for rapidly tracing them.
Touch Point Analysis
From birth of a cow, through life, culling, processing, shipping, stocking and purchase to table, the list of touch points are as follows
Parents and past generations genetics
Other animals within a farm
Farmers and visitors to farm
Medication and feed
Shipping to abattoir
Processing in abattoir and people involved
Movement to hanging / processing for product
Shipping to central drop hub
Distribution to Outlets
At every given touch point, there is an association between the cow (whether alive or slaughtered) and many people, machines, soil, medications, shipping containers and storage facilities. These are limited to a time period and not a direct parent or child association, but instead a horizontal or vertical association. This means that the association has never been directly tracked to the cow, let alone on any ledger. For instance, the people in the abattoirs are only processing the carcass, they are not a parent, nor a child of the carcass; they are an association. An argument could be made that associations can be much deeper than just a momentary one, for instance with the feed of a cow. A part of the food will always stay resident in the form of growth of the animal. For this reason, we are adding in an association type to identify, with the ability to forever be able to track, in real time, the actual type of association made.
So let’s take one part of the process and investigate further. Here we will investigate the shipping process as this can be a key point of a contamination of many products shipped together.
During the shipping process, many boxes containing various meat products may be shipped in large containers on a ship with many other product types in other containers. Even the lorry transporting to and from the ship may have carried varying products. Currently if there was a contamination at any point prior to, during or after the shipping process, organisations and authorities would spend vast quantities of time and money in order to trace every product, test and possibly recall. Taking an extreme and direct attack like anthrax on a shipment into consideration, there would be a very high chance of death and products could be distributed far and wide before the recall process could start. Again, please bear in mind such recall processes are cumbersome, inefficient and difficult to quantify in terms of cost for companies, particularly in lesser developed geographies of the world.
If it were possible to simply enter the product UID and retrieve an entire list of associations through the shipping, it would be possible to identify every single person, animal, container and product which has entered a “touch point“ with the affected product; this is currently not possible. By creating these associations with any product utilising EyA, this is now entirely possible across the entire process and data can be retrieved for the analysis.
Rather than adding huge processing requirements to EyA, Track and Trace Technologies has the power to consume data from EyA and process the data rapidly when requested. Using this type of association, analysis can be returned including overall risk, human risk and immediately a recall can be initiated, or containment of infection put into place.
From the above diagram, it is possible to see the key difference between associations and asset hierarchal relationships. Associations are green links and parent / child asset relationships are red. Asset / template links are black. Within the diagram, you will also notice the thick blue associative relationships. Even though the meat has not directly been connected with other actors in the scenario, they have common relationships through various stages of the process. EyA does not need to store this extended information but instead Track and Trace Technologies is capable of “stringing together” the relationships. You will also notice the weight within each of the indirect associations. Using advanced algorithms, T&T will be able to identify levels of risk throughout the whole chain of relationships and guide investigators to the highest rating weights as a priority.
If the solution had been deployed during the early stages of Covid-19, it is very likely that global transmission and even localised outbreaks would have been controlled far more rapidly and efficiently than that experienced during the pandemic.