Historic Futures Ltd (HF) are experts in product traceability.
We provide a service called String to connect organisations to their supply chains and retrieve information about the products they buy.
We also provide consultancy to capture the benefits of traceability for the supplier network, helping each participant to provide the information required with minimal disruption and maximum benefit to their business.
In the past, Before Globalisation, things were mostly made close to where they were sold. The journey from primary raw material to saleable item was short. You knew where things came from. Not any more.
Now we can make products anywhere - and we do. The supply chains that encircle the globe are endlessly complex and constantly evolving. Which is all fine, unless you have many products and you need to know how they were made; by whom, from what. Until recently, most businesses that manufacture or trade physical goods didn’t need to know, but that’s changing. Fast.
The lack of accurate and complete information about the history of individual products undermines brand owners’ ability to make informed sourcing decisions and reliable product claims.
Simultaneously, the inability of supply-chain participants to convey information about their best practice management means they struggle to differentiate their contribution to the production process.
Blenheim Palace Sawmills
Phone: +44 (0) 1993 886420
Fax: +44 (0) 1993 886421
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Imagine you have developed a way of making a product that is much more efficient than “normal” but where the specification of your product is identical to “normal”. Great! Customers of “normal” can buy your product and use it in just the way they use “normal” to make their stuff - no cost of change for them. You get lower input costs, and therefore higher margins on your product as a return on your investment in developing the new way.
Now, more efficient generally means “less energy”, or “less water” or similar. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if your customer could get some value from that too. If they could say “Dear Customer, you have a choice! You can buy this normal product (made from normal inputs) for price A, or this “low carbon” product (made from more efficient inputs”) for price A+X%”. And they could, all they have to do is buy your stuff and run their operation and provide the data to demonstrate the difference between their 2 products. So you’ll need to provide some data about how you make your products then…
HF to provide online platform for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
M&S sign deal with HF to provide full ‘raw material to store’ traceability on all clothing and home product.
The makers of Stilton cheese, Parma ham and Scotch Whisky have known for many years that country of origin is an important marketing tool. Other industries are fast learning that ensuring raw materials have not come from a certain region is every bit as important.
The reported labour conditions in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry particularly the use of child labour, caused such concern that some major retail brands have moved to ban Uzbek cotton from their supply chain. The difficulty they face is in knowing where the cotton used to make the yarn to make the fabric used in the finished garments actually came from. Most retailers have little or no knowledge of the origins of their supply chain because so many different processes are involved in producing a finished product and the yarn spinner often has no idea which brand will eventually sell the finished article their yarn is used in.
We made some t-shirts. Big deal. Well actually, we didn’t make them. Other people grew and harvested the cotton, spun the yarn, made the fabric, sewed the shirts, printed the design on the front and back and shipped them to us. All we did was pay for them. The big news is that we know who they all were!
Where did you get that hat?
A fair question I think you’ll agree, but why put it on a t-shirt? We simply wanted a well-known phrase that “asked” about the history of a product, and this was the first thing we came up with that made us smile. We recognise that well-known is a relative term. In this case is refers to people over a certain age who live the UK - and that’s us. We did dig up some information on the history of the phrase though. You can find it here
Chicken and egg
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This was just a simple image (note how we’re trying to make this relevant to a wider audience) designed to make you think about the history of a product. Like a chicken, or perhaps an egg. It’s interesting to ponder whether the egg is actually a chickens egg, but not that interesting. Get the whole debate here. ‘nuff said.
Brands and retailers are under increasing pressure to ensure the social, ethical and environmental credentials of the products they sell. The majority of the processes required to turn raw materials into finished goods are carried out by suppliers the brand or retailer doesn’t know which leaves them vulnerable to media exposés, with potentially far reaching effects on brand value.
Responding to a media enquiry requires fast access to accurate information, often making the difference between a damaging media campaign, or a story that is withdrawn before it even goes to press. String gives you instant access to the data you need to respond.
With a bit of time and energy, it’s possible to gain an overview of your product’s history from your desk. You can call your suppliers, find out where they normally source their raw materials, or whether or not they comply with a particular standard.
But what happens when the questions you need to answer go deeper? When you need to find out about raw materials, but your immediate suppliers handle finished products? When you need to find out whether particular materials have entered your supply chain this week but the best data you have was collected months ago? When you need to know, for certain, that the product you are holding complies with all regulation, product claims and customer expectations?
Only by tracing at batch level can you find the answers to these questions. Supply chains are dynamic; they shift and change in order to remain competitive. Batch level traceability gives you the tools you need to stay up to date with these changes and to understand how they impact on your product - every single batch of it.