Leather traceability in the tanning industry is revolutionizing the entire sector, bringing significant changes and advantages for both tanneries and consumers.
On one hand, modern traceability systems allow tanneries to ensure the sustainable origin of their leather in compliance with ethical and environmental standards. On the other hand, consumers can verify the production flow and the authenticity of the products.
In addition to establishing trust and transparency between producers and customers, the purpose of traceability is to offer both proven sustainability and responsibility within the tanning industry, as well as competitive advantages for tanneries.
What is leather traceability in tanneries
Traceability refers to the ability to monitor and record every stage of the leatherworking process in tanneries, from the origin of the raw material to the finished product. To better define this concept, however, two aspects need to be considered:
- Ethical leather traceability: from a moral perspective, identifying the origin of the leather used in tanneries allows knowing that the animals were raised in a respectful manner and that compliance with international regulations has been achieved. This implies accurate record-keeping of information regarding the origin of the animals, the conditions in which they were raised and the overall treatment they received.
- Industrial leather traceability: from a production perspective, monitoring and recording every production stage allows certifying the quality of the finished product and identifying any anomalies in the process. This includes a comprehensive overview from the acquisition of raw hides to the production of the finished product, including the supply chain, involved suppliers and chemical treatments.
Overall, traceability of hides and production batches in the leather industry plays a fundamental role in providing transparent information to customers and consumers while optimizing the tanning production as a whole.
Differences between forward and backward traceability
While these terms may seem similar and interchangeable, there are substantial differences between forward and backward traceability in leather production:
- Traceability refers to the control and tracking of all stages of leather processing, from the origin to the finished product, while reverse traceability identifies the reverse path, from the finished product to the leather used.
- Traceability involves accurate record-keeping of information regarding the origin of leather, chemical and physical treatments applied during tanning and processing operations performed, while backward traceability mostly concerns the detection of leather batches used for the production of a specific article.
- Traceability aims to ensure responsibility and transparency in the supply chain, allowing for the verification of the authenticity and quality of the leather used. In contrast, re-traceability allows tracing back to the source of the leather, the involved suppliers and the ethical conditions of animal breeding.
Forward and backward traceability are complementary: while the former identifies the leather production process in detail, from raw material to finished product, the latter allows going backward to trace the origin of raw materials from the finished product.
As two sides of the same coin, forward and backward leather traceability are both essential to ensure ethics, sustainability and quality in the tanning industry.
Advantages of leather traceability systems
Today, implementing a leather traceability system in tanneries is not merely considered an added value but a necessity, both from the market and certification bodies’ perspective. So, what are the benefits of such a process control system for the leather industry?
- Market adaptation: industries like automotive and fashion are increasingly concerned about the origin of leather used in their products. Traceability allows tanneries to access these niches and meet their needs.
- Trust and transparency: customers can verify the authenticity and source of the leather used throughout the production chain, contributing to creating a positive image for the tannery and attracting conscious consumers.
- Quality management: monitoring every stage of the tanning process helps identify defects or issues in the supply chain early on, improving production reliability and minimizing waste.
- Compliance with regulations: detailed documentation of each work stage, adopting more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices and aligning with increasingly stringent industry regulations are crucial to prevent possible sanctions or disputes.
- Differentiation and competitive advantage: certifying the entire leather production chain can provide an extra edge for tanneries to stay up-to-date, open new business opportunities and differentiate themselves from the competition.
GER tannery machinery for leather traceability
Given the complexity of the phases involved in the tanning process, it is crucial for tanneries to rely on companies experienced in designing accurate leather traceability systems that involve every department and stakeholder.
For this reason, GER Elettronica solutions for traceability in leather industry offer a modular and flexible approach, defining different recognition technologies on a singular basis and depending on the specific step of the process in which they are applied.
BE.TRACE is a traceability system for tanneries adaptable to various needs, allowing for personalized markings and recognitions, and easy conversion between different technologies in order to maintain the “product history” continuity.
Our leather tracing system can be integrated with the existing management systems in the tannery and our I.DATA software, in order to record and analyze the impact of each production phase. This approach can provide a complete answer to the various traceability needs of tanneries, both ethical and productive ones.