What is chain of custody? How and why is it relevant for supply chains?
You may find multiple definitions of a chain of custody by governments, associations, agencies, logistics service providers, shippers. All of them take a slightly different viewpoint on the topic.
The simplest way to define the chain of custody in the context of supply chains could be to name it as a certification mechanism that enables goods to come with a digital passport that serves as a verifiable transcript of the product’s life-cycle and journey. The chain of custody certification offers the ability for public and private entities to chronologically document (physically or electronically) the ingredients, components and final products, their condition from production to destination as well as along the distribution lines recording any disruption in the product’s environment that could negatively influence the products quality or performance. This documentation should be precise enough to also be validated by a court.
The logistics industry is slowly being transformed to the point when the utilization of the electronic data environment will become the norm in the industry and the additional technological advancements in IoT technology will enable the integration of complete cargo supply. Such new potential opportunities of data gathering and processing will produce valid documentation along the supply chain for the chain of custody.
Developing a comprehensive chain of custody requires more than just technology and processes. It is obvious that the latest technology development can and will lead to major improvements in general, with respect to chain of custody and other supply chain optimizations. But the best technology is useless if it is not supported by a lean, well-defined process, which is at the end strengthened by a powerful structure around it. The chain of custody requires expert guidance to make the use of IoT successful.