WO2001048651A1 - System and method for monitoring supply chains - Google Patents

System and method for monitoring supply chains

Info

Publication number
WO2001048651A1
WO2001048651A1 PCT/NZ2000/000257 NZ0000257W WO2001048651A1 WO 2001048651 A1 WO2001048651 A1 WO 2001048651A1 NZ 0000257 W NZ0000257 W NZ 0000257W WO 2001048651 A1 WO2001048651 A1 WO 2001048651A1
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WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
information
product
data
system
transactions
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/NZ2000/000257
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Gregory Mark Evans
Jason Jeffrey Lopas
Original Assignee
Encos Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/06Resources, workflows, human or project management, e.g. organising, planning, scheduling or allocating time, human or machine resources; Enterprise planning; Organisational models

Abstract

A process engine, method and system for monitoring chains of supply of one or more products is disclosed. The processing engine (4) and method operates on a data storage means (12) and data processing means (11) in accordance with pre-determined constraints. Information is assigned a unique identifying number (UID) as the information is input via data capture devices (7, 8). Each UID incorporates an assigned security level for that transaction. Hard attributes are assigned to each initial product (30) which survive each transaction until the product (30) is dis-engineered to further products (31). The earlier in time product source (30) becomes a hard attribute of products (32-35) further down the chain. Soft attributes of each product (30) can be altered by recordal of a transaction. User permission profiles are assigned by organisations controlling the transactions. The profiles provide access to the transactions dependent on the security levels of each transaction.

Description

TITLE: SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR MONITORING SUPPLY CHAINS

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to systems and methods for monitoring supply chains for products. Particularly, the present invention relates to a system and method for capturing and monitoring data relating to the step by step processing of a raw product through to the final finished product. More particularly, the system and method is designed to capture data from many different inputs or organisations and to permit the shaπng of data regarding the monitoring from the raw material through to the finished step, for a product.

BACKGROUND ART

At present, the need for an effective, verifiable chain of process system with regard to processed products is essential and self-evident. Such a system is also referred to as a chain of custody system or chain of supply system. It may be defined as a process of achieving absolute knowledge about the location, value and physical attributes of a given item or stock unit for the entire duration of its existence, until it reaches an end user (who may further process the product) or is otherwise consumed.

Motivation for such a system and method stems from the current need for precise product information required either by the end consumer or by a subsequent purchaser of processed products. The ability to track back to a source of a product in order to ascertain the quality, source, or to track and trace the route of the input ingredients for a particular product is becoming more essential. Motivation shown for this comes from a vaπety of economic sources. For example: from consumer resistance to genetically engineered food or bio-engmeered products, from concerns regarding radiation of products at their source or at some point along the way; from concerns about contamination of products in certain markets by pesticides and insecticides (etc) and from requirements regarding the manner of production of products (organically grown foods, for example), etc.

Environmental accountability and regulation of importers and exporters, along with transport 41405

operators, is leading to an economic environment in which an audit trail for a product is also becoming necessary. A growing number of businesses and consumers are requiπng verifiable proof of some or all of the above aspects of their products or consumable goods

To the present time, there are a vast number of systems which have been disclosed, implemented or displayed, which have attempted to overcome or address as least some of these requirements. There are vaπous computeπsed methods available for supply chain planning, an example of which can be seen in WO 99/45486 (Sap AG). This discloses a data model for a supply chain in which each individual working step in the production process is defined and the steps are organised into groups of such activities. Activities are then linked one to another and the individual working steps are a further separate input class of data

The data is stored in a logical manner that reflects the progress of mateπals and orders along a supply chain A planning algoπthm is provided to allow access to a database table. A planning algorithm provides access to allow for future projections.

However, this model and others of the same type require input from the working stations to be reviewed within one local area net (LAN) and m respect of one supply chain only. Such a system cannot take account of any information already on a supply chain model in respect of the product received into the supply chain in question. It is also a theoretical model.

US Patent No. 5673194 (Cipelletti) discloses a data collection and monitoring system for a product line. This ensures tracabihty and allows for a detailed reconstruction of the entire production process for each finished output product. It is based on a relational model in that the mam purpose of the system is to determine the relations between the quality and reliability of the products by vaπous means

However the input data, depending on the source of the data, is treated differently. There is disclosed that the data for the production line and for the finished products are stored independently and later correlated as required. As the system is aimed at allowing for subsequent complete re construction of a production process, it is not a system that can be operated in real-time

Systems are also known in which chain of supply or chain of custody systems are monitored by monitoring and locating a unique identifier withm an individual item. Such systems have been disclosed for use, for example, in the timber industry and include the tracking of such a log, once the tree is cut, with a GPS system. However, such systems do not allow for tracking the log once it has been processed into individual items of timber, as the system cannot track the individual items of timber relating to the one unique identifier on the original log.

A further disadvantage of known systems as can be seen from the above disclosed systems to Cipelletti and Sap AG is that each is geared to work withm one organisation. The ability to trace a product back to the oπgmal source, regardless of the number of organisations through whose hands the product passes, or changes made to the product as it passes, can be exceedingly difficult. Each system may be unique to the organisation and it can be extremely difficult to get these systems to "talk" to each other

Some attempts have been made to provide mter-orgamsational systems For example, US Patent No. 5995145 and other patents to Notani discuss such a possibility, with the use of mter-domam analysis of multiple supply chains. However, these systems and processes are for planning analysis and optimisation rather than monitoring and evaluation in real time. Also, this system uses model agents as partial replicas of remote domains to allow for mter-domam analysis and optimisation at the local level.

It will be understood from the above that an essential and integral part of any such system or method to overcome any of these problems will need to address the question of secuπty of information and security of access.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a system, method and apparatus for momtoπng chain of supply of goods which is secure, provides for large data capacity and viewing, is effective and inexpensive to operate.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus, system and method of recording data for chain of supply monitoring for goods which can be trans-organisational.

It is an object of the present invention to address the foregoing problems or at least to provide the public with a useful choice. Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the ensuing description which is given by way of example only

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a processing engine for monitoπng a chain of supply of at least one product, said engine being adapted for operation with data storage means and data processing means, inputting to the data storage means information regarding at least one product wherein said information includes: a unique identifying number (UID), said input of information and attachment of UTD being a 'transaction'; in respect of every product, inputting further information regarding either said product or changes to said product, all input information being by an individual transaction, whereby the data processing means incorporates a processing engine constrained to operate in accordance with the following rules:

(I) a transaction includes information on at least one product and includes a unique identifying number (UID);

(n) all types of products ("entities") are to be treated as the same in terms of retrieval and presentation of information;

(in) all types of transactions are to be treated the same in terms of retπeval and presentation,

(iv) there are user-definable differences with respect to entities or transactions and are features which may be changed ("soft" features)

(v) there are specific relationships between entities and transactions and entities and entities which cannot be altered, these relationships including:

I - the parent/child relationship;

II - ownership - responsibility; and III - custodianship.

According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for monitoπng chain of supply for at least one product, said method including the steps of:

(a) providing data storage means and data processing means;

(b) inputting to the data storage means information regarding at least one product wherein said information includes: a unique identifying number (UTD), said input of information and attachment of UID being a 'transaction';

(c) in respect of every product, inputting further information regarding either said product or changes to said product, all input information being by an individual transaction, whereby the data processing means incorporates a processing engine constrained to operate m accordance with the following rules:

(l) all types of products ("entities") are to be treated as the same in terms of retrieval and presentation of information;

(π) all types of transactions are to be treated the same m terms of retrieval and presentation;

(in) there are user-definable differences with respect to entities or transactions and are features which may be changed ("soft" features)

(iv) there are specific relationships between entities and transactions and entities and entities which cannot be altered ("hard" features), these relationships including:

I - the parent/child relationship;

II - ownership - responsibility; and

III - custodianship. According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided the method as described above wherein said constraint regarding the treatment of all transactions as the same also applies to the manner in which all transactions are stored

The special relationships which cannot be altered relate to what might be termed "dis-engineeπng" For example, the parent/child relationship refers to the situation where a log of a tree (parent) is sawn up into individual pieces of timber (child) which are then on-sold At that point, the parent/child relationship alters, as does the ownership and responsibility The custodial role comes into play (for example) once the timber is packaged and the custodial relationship of the timber is to the packaging and the packaging is custodian of the content

Thus it can be seen that, with the chain of custody between parent/child, ownership, responsibility and custodial changes, the chain and relationship of all parts of a finished product can be traced back to their origins

According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a system for monitoπng chain of supply for a product, said system including the steps of

(a) providing data storage means and data processing means,

(b) selecting a product or products to be monitored,

(c) repeated operation of the method for monitoring the chain of supply, as described above

Such a method and system obviously only becomes of value if it can be viewed and monitored Depending on the level of viewing permission or secuπty of the user/viewer, every entity and transaction relating to every entity can be monitored, retrieved and viewed m context

The level of viewing permission is determined by the profile of the user/viewer The UID, when assigned to each transaction, also includes a level of security for that transaction The range of profiles of user is determined from the number or type of levels of security m the transaction Thus according to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided the method as descπbed above wherein every user has a permission profile which profile is determined by the organisation having control over some or all of the transactions, permitting viewing of vaπous aspects of the chain of supply.

Thus according to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided the system as described above wherein every user has a permission profile which profile is determined by the organisation having control over some or all of the transactions, permitting viewing of vaπous aspects of the chain of supply.

For example, a user may be part of an organisation which has control of permission profiles for two stages of the chain of supply. Each individual transaction can be viewed by such a user. An external user from a parent organisation may have the ability to display all requested information. The permission profiles are layered on the constraints descπbed above such that they are integral with all stages of the process.

Preferably, the information is input to the system through DCDs (data capture devices) which can be of varying types. DCDs can include: electronic scanners with bar codes, light beams, vision technology (incorporating cameras and processing of images passing the camera), weigh stations, other computers, radio frequency tags with chips and memory, and manual input. Thus a DCD can be any device which can send an electronic signal with a unique identifier relating to a product via a land line, through wireless frequency, or which can send a signal capable of conversion to such an electronic signal.

With the above treatment of transactions and entities, it can be seen that the rate and volume of transactions are the two limiting factors on the size of the server required to process the method. However, the size of the data processor is entirely scaleable and thus if the server size is increased, the rate of transactions and volume can be mcreased. This leads to the advantage that the method and apparatus is entirely scalable from a very small LAN to a global size, wide area network (WAN) which is totally distributed. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Further aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following description which is given by way of example only, and with reference to the accompanying drawings m which:

Figure 1 is a schematic of the method and system of operation of a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 2 is a schematic of the representation of information withm the system of the prefeπed embodiment of the present invention; and

Figure 3 is a schematic showing tracabihty of a product using the prefeπed embodiment of the present invention.

BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The following description refers to an application of the method and system for monitoπng chain of supply in the context of the processing of a log of timber through to packaging material. However, it is to be understood that the method and system may be applied to any similar process based industry, or combination of industries, or any situation where a precise knowledge of the oπgm and product, processing and location of products are required or needed. Such applications can include, for example, the meat industry, the timber industry, any manufactuπng industry, and the like.

Referπng to Fig. 1, the system incorporates a number of devices (7, 8) generally referred to by the level item 2, which are used to input data into the central engine 4 by the method of the present invention. The input means are referred to or are idealised in the drawing diagrammatically generally by the reference numeral 3. These data can be viewed generally from level 6 through vaπous means represented generally by the numeral 5. The engine 4 is generally designed to capture data (at level 2, via level 3). The data, when processed, can be viewed by a number of people denoted by level 6, by a number of means through level 5. With the identification of a product ("entity"), information regarding that entity is input to the engine 4 with data capture devices (DCDs) 7, 8.

The information is generally transferred, and a unique identifier or unique identity code (UTD) added as the information is input via lines 9 and 10. The DCD 8 can also input information manually However, the automatic DCDs 7 are generally working with one level of abstraction of information.

A DCD 7 could, for example, be one or more of the following:

the electronically stored results of a bar code scanned and then stored electronically, or information on a UID via a light beam,

- the results of camera operation (the information is stored and processing generally referred to as 'vision' technology),

input from weigh stations,

input from radio frequency tags that are equipped with computer chips and a small amount of memory (etc).

Generally a DCD 7 can be any device which can send electronic signals via a landline 9, wireless frequency 10, or send any signal capable of conversion to a digital format.

The information is taken by the processor 11 of the engine 4 and tested via a test programme 13, to ensure the information is in a format that is usable withm the engine 4. If the information is in the correct format, the information is returned to the processor 11 and processed with reference to the entity and the UID.

Whilst that product is in existence, or for a specified length of time (per the programming) the information regarding the entity and all transactions relating to the entity are stored and moved between memory 12 and the processor 11. Once the information or product is dis-engineered, or the information becomes too old, it is transferred to archive storage 14. The information is not destroyed. Individual end users 17, 18 can use a view station on the LAN or WAN on which the engine 4 is running to view information about the entities and transactions. In the example shown in Fig. 1, the end user 18 has a different level of security from user 17 (a different permission profile) for use of the system and is able to view archive information as well as current information (from both the archive storage 14 and current storage 11) User 17 has a limited security or preferential profile and can only view cuπent information stored (11).

Once information establishing an entity (20) (Fιg.2) is received and given a unique identity via transactions 9 or transaction 10, the engine 4 will generate a number of attributes for that entity 20, about which further transactions (9, 10) can be entered into the engine 4 and either added to each attribute or used to generate fresh attributes.

Referring to Fig. 2, each entity 20 has a unique identifier (UID) withm the engine 4 Tagged to this unique UTD is the oπgmal bar code or code that the product might have had when read by a DCD 7. This original identity is generally referenced with the numeral 21. Laid beside this information, either individually or in a general manner, is a tag 22 regarding the security of the information on entity 20 This is then related to the security profile of the user (17, 18) (Fig. 1) as to how much of the information they may view.

Each entity 20 has a series of transactions entered m respect of the entity 20 which are recorded against its attributes (23, 24). Hard attributes 23 are those generated by the engine 4 and relate to attributes which cannot be changed about the entity 20. For example, the parent/child relationship and the custodial relationship. Soft attributes, such as relating to ownership and responsibility, are an input attribute 24, which can be changed with a transaction. Soft attributes 24 may also represent location (for example, this may change as the movement of an entity 20 on a ship or other carrier is entered in respect of that entity 20).

Soft attributes 24 can be changed with transactions. However, the history of the transactions is retained m memory (11, 14) and is not destroyed.

When an entity 20 is dis-engmeered, for example, if the product is broken up into a number of smaller products, the entity 20 ceases to exist and a new entity (not shown) for each of the smaller products is generated, where hard attribute 23 relates to the parent entity 20. As this attribute 23 cannot be changed but is constrained by the programming of the engine 4, the source of an end product can easily be traced through this hard attribute 23 back to the source

As fresh attributes 23, 24 are added, these can either be hard attributes 23 as part of the engine 4 or added by way of transaction, as a soft attribute 24.

The dis-engmeeπng of entity 20 to a multiple number of smaller products is also a transaction entered through a DCD 7 via a transaction 9 and is dealt with in the same way as an entry regarding any other transaction

All incoming transactions are therefore treated according to a specific number of rules which are built into the programming of the engine 4 These rules include.

( 1 ) Initial information on entities 20 is treated in the same manner and stOEd in the same manner In other words, it is retrieved and presented m the same manner, and stored in the same manner.

(2) All further information on an entity 20 is a transaction and all transactions (9, 10) are treated identically m the manner of retπeval and presentation and preferentially in their manner of storage.

(3) As a corollary to 1 and 2, where there are differences applying with respect to properties of entities 20 or attributes (23, 24), these are user definable ("soft") or fixed ("hard").

(4) There are special relationships which cannot be altered ("hard"). These include but are not limited to-

the relationship of parent and child

ownership / responsibility

custodianship

If any hard relationships are changed, the entity 20 is said to be "dis-engmeered" and the entity 20 ceases to exist and a new entity is generated. A hard attribute 23 of the new entity or entities is that it came from the parent, the old entity 20.

Referring to Fig. 3, a diagrammatic representation of the chain of supply is thereshown using the system and method discussed above. The particular example given is that of the processing of a tree 30 through to the packaging 36, which packaging 36 is used to contain a meat product inside a container 38.

As the trees 30 are felled, a bar code or other device is affixed to each log 31 and each code is scanned, with the information enteπng a DCD 7 (Fig. 1). This code is transferred via the transaction 9 to processor 11, assigned a UTD, and is tested against parameters in test area 13 to ensure sufficient information has been supplied to enable that product to be uniquely identified.

Once the information is accepted it is transfeπed back to processor 11. The input code is tagged to the UID as an attribute 24. The log 31 is now represented as an entity 20, and will be given hard attributes 23, of being a pπme product, and having a location attributable by soft attπbute 24. As the location (attribute 24) of that entity 20 changes, the attribute 24 will change, with a history of the attributes attached. Once the log 31 has been dis-engmeered, all information regarding the log 31 is archived and a fresh UID is given to each of the child products at 32. A hard attπbute 23 of the child product 32 is that the parent, entity 20, was log 31. This same process is repeated as the sheets of wood are chopped into smaller items (33) and then broken down into chip for pressing into cardboard (34). Dis-engmeermg again occurs at 35, where a plurality of boxes are made. These boxes then assume the attπbute of a custodial role, once the product 37 (meat) is packaged in the box (at stage 35). Thus a hard attribute 23 for the product 35 is its relationship with the matenal it contains, meat.

At each of these stages, one of the attributes 24 may well be the change in location, depending on the stage of the processing. Ownership may also change.

At stage 36, a multiplicity of boxes 35, each containing their own product 37, are stacked and put withm the container 38. Thus each entity 35, 37, 38 will have an mter-relational attπbute to the other products, indicating that the container 38 is the custodian of the packages 35, which are m turn custodian of the respective product 37. Each of these will m turn have a location attπbute 24 which may change with time as the container is shipped.

With the manner of set up of the recordal of the transactions, the container 38 may be located in three dimensions with input transactions (9, 10) from known GPS systems.

Every transaction (9, 10) that relates to the processing of the trees 30 through to the use of the wood pulp for the package 35 can be monitored, viewed and retπeved by a user. How much of each stage of the diagrammatic process set out in Fig. 3 may be viewed by a user of the system will depend on the level of security or permission profile of that user or of that user's organisation.

Thus for example, a public user may have access to the general attributes that track each log 31 to the packages at stage 36. A user withm the organisation for the container may be able to track the packages 36 through the GPS system and know at any time the exact location of a package 36. A user of an organisation which produced the compressed cardboard 34 may be able to track back detailed information regarding the attributes of the log 31 that was used, but not be able to see the on-gomg use of the box 36 once it left this organisation.

The engine 4, containing user verification, input ID veπfication (initial code at 31) for each transaction, memory storage 11, processing area 12, and archive area 14 is entirely scaleable depending on the size and number of transactions. The engine 4 may exist m a distributed manner, in that it may not be all physically in the same place. The system from 2 to 6 may be part of a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN).

Thus it will be appreciated that should the volume of transactions increase for a specific memory size or processing capacity (thereby reducing the rate at which transmissions are processed) more memory or storage may be added m order to increase the rate at which transmissions can be viewed and accepted. As the constraints under which the system operates allow for scaling of any scope, the addition of further processing and storage capacity will simply allow a bigger overall system and greater number of transactions to be operated.

With the above described constraints, it has been found in practice that the best programming language m which to work is JADE. However, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that other programming languages (for example, C) may be used. The basis of the programming language is preferably one that incorporates a data repository or OOL environment The programming is also preferentially done in JADE because of the ease with which a relational format can be presented in that language.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that with adequate capacity at storage and processing (11, 12) the system (2-6), over a closed system or at large, could be operated in real time Thus the system (2-6) and method need not provide simply a model and planner but may be a method of monitoπng a chain of transactions as they occur m real time.

It will further be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the bulk of the work done by the engine 4, including the veπfication of incoming transactions (9, 10), can proceed automatically, if so desired

As has been discussed above, and given that the engine 4 may be m a distributed format, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that two or more engines 4 may operate conjunction. Such could be particularly useful, for example, where there are restrictions on band-width or some other restricting factor regarding the speed or rate with which transactions (9, 10) can be entered into processor 11. It will also be appreciated by those skilled m the art that at vaπous points before transactions (9, 10) are forwarded from a DCD 7 to the processor 11, a small sub-engme (not shown) may be inserted to process information and test data whilst at the same time veπfying to the DCD 7 that the data is accurate, and stoπng information before passage as a transaction 9 to storage 11.

The engine 4 and method can be operated on a standard PC, a specially adapted PC, or a Unix-type server, being a processor that supports a graphical platform, or a distributed system including a multiple number of any or all of these.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that as the incommg information from a DCD (7, 8) is then assigned a UID withm the engine 4, different systems of identification coding used by the DCDs (7, 8) can be ones which are incompatible one with the other. However, by the tagging of that identification coding with the UTD withm this system (2-6), input from mutually incompatible systems is entirely possible.

Thus the same system (2-6) may be used on a WAN and over a number of organisations which are usmg mutually inconsistent methods of assigning an identity to their own products, or to products that are received from other organisations and then further processed.

In like manner, users withm different organisational structures who wish to view their own products will need to source these by their own individual identification codes, or by a known range of identification codes As each identification code within the engine 4 is tagged in the manner descπbed above (with a UID), such search is possible.

Aspects of the present invention have been descπbed by way of example only and it should be appreciated that modifications and additions may be made thereto without departing from the scope thereof

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A processing engine for monitoπng a chain of supply of at least one product, said engine being adapted for operation with data storage means and data processing means, inputting to the data storage means information regarding at least one product wherein said information includes: a unique identifying number (UID), said input of information and attachment of UID being a 'transaction1; m respect of every product, inputting further information regarding either said product or changes to said product, all input information being by an individual transaction, whereby the data processmg means incorporates a processmg engine constrained to operate in accordance with the following rules:
(l) a transaction includes information on at least one product and includes a unique identifying number (UID),
(n) all types of products ("entities") are to be treated as the same in terms of retrieval and presentation of information;
(in) all types of transactions are to be treated the same m terms of retπeval and presentation;
(iv) there are user-definable differences with respect to entities or transactions and are features which may be changed ("soft" features)
(v) there are specific relationships between entities and transactions and entities and entities which cannot be altered, these relationships including:
I - the parent/child relationship;
II - ownership - responsibility; and
III - custodianship.
2. A method for monitoπng chain of supply for at least one product, said method including the steps of:
(a) providing data storage means and data processmg means
(b) inputting to the data storage means information regarding at least one product wherein said information includes: a unique identifying number (UTD), said input of information and attachment of UID being a 'transaction';
(c) m respect of every product, inputting further information regarding either said product or changes to said product, all input information being by an individual transaction, whereby the data processing means incorporates the processing engine as claimed m claim 1.
3. A method for monitoπng chain of supply for at least one product, said method including the steps of:
(a) providing data storage means and data processing means;
(b) inputting to the data storage means information regarding at least one product wherein said information includes: a unique identifying number (UTD), said input of information and attachment of UID being a 'transaction';
(c) in respect of every product, inputting further information regarding either said product or changes to said product, all input information being by an individual transaction, whereby the data processing means incorporates a processing engine constrained to operate in accordance with the following rules:
(I) all types of products ("entities") are to be treated as the same in terms of retrieval and presentation of information;
(n) all types of transactions are to be treated the same m terms of retrieval and presentation;
(in) there are user-definable differences with respect to entities or transactions and are features which may be changed ("soft" features)
(iv) there are specific relationships between entities and transactions and entities and entities which cannot be altered ("hard" features), these relationships including:
I - the parent/child relationship;
II - ownership - responsibility; and
III - custodianship;
and wherein said information is controlled by at least one organisation or legal entity.
4. A method for monitoring chain of supply as claimed m claim 3 wherein all types of transactions are stored in the same manner.
5. A method for monitoring chain of supply as claimed in either claim 3 or claim 4 wherein each UID includes a pre-determmed security level profile, which level profile is determined by one of said organisations.
6. A method for monitoπng chain of supply as claimed m claim 5 wherein a permission profile, for access to the transaction by a user, is selected from a range of profiles matching one or more secuπty level profiles withm the UIDs, from: permission to access to all transactions, to permission to access only some of the transactions controlled by one organisation.
7. A method for monitoπng chain of supply as claimed m any one of claims 2 to 6 wherein said programming language used withm the processing engine incorporates at least one of a data repository and an OOL environment.
8. A method for monitoπng chain of supply as claimed in claim 7 wherein said object oπented language is JADE.
9 A method for monitoπng chain of supply as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8 wherein said engine is operating in real time.
10. A system for monitoπng chain of supply for a product, said system including the steps of:
(d) providing data storage means and data processmg means,
(e) selecting at least one chain of a product or products to be monitored;
(f) operation of the method for monitoπng the chain of supply, as claimed in any one of claims 2 to 9.
11 A system for monitoπng chain of supply for at least one product, said method including the steps of:
(a) providing data storage means and data processing means,
(b) inputting to the data storage means information regarding at least one product wherein said information includes: a unique identifying number (UID), said input of information and attachment of UID being a 'transaction';
(c) in respect of every product, inputting further information regarding either said product or changes to said product, all input information being by an individual transaction, whereby the data processing means incorporates a processing engine constrained to operate in accordance with the following rules:
(1) all types of products ("entities") are to be treated as the same m terms of retrieval and presentation of information;
(n) all types of transactions are to be treated the same in terms of retrieval and presentation;
(m) there are user-definable differences with respect to entities or transactions and are features which may be changed ("soft" features)
(iv) there are specific relationships between entities and transactions and entities and entities which cannot be altered ("hard" features), these relationships including:
I - the parent/child relationship;
II - ownership - responsibility; and
III - custodianship;
and wherein said information is controlled by at least one organisation or legal entity.
12. A system for monitoπng chain of supply for a product as claimed in either claim 10 or claim 11 wherein each DCD is a device capable of emitting an electronic signal, which incorporates a UTD, which signal can be transmitted via a means selected from: a wireless signal, a land line, or a means capable of later conversion to an electronic signal incorporating a UID.
13. A system for monitoring chain of supply for a product as claimed in any one of claims
10 to 12 wherein each DCD is selected from: an electronic scanner generating electronic bar code information; a detector usmg light beams; a detector with vision technology (incorporating at least one camera and processor for processing images passing the camera); a weigh station, a data processor; a radio frequency tag reader, with chips and data memory; a manual input means; and a combination thereof.
14. A system for monitoring chain of supply for a product as claimed in any one of claims 10 to 13 wherein said data processing means is stored on hardware selected from the group: a PC computer; a mainframe computer; a local area network of computers, a wide area network of computers, and a combination thereof.
15. A system for monitoring chain of supply for a product as claimed in any one of claims 10 to 13 wherein said processing engine is operated on hardware selected from the group: a PC computer; a mainframe computer; a local area network of computers, a wide area network of computers, and a combination thereof.
16. A method for monitoπng chain of supply for at least one product as claimed in any one of claims 2 to 9 and substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
17. A system for monitoπng chain of supply for at least one product as claimed in any one of claims 10 to 15 and substantially as hereinbefore descπbed with reference to the accompanying drawings.
PCT/NZ2000/000257 1999-12-23 2000-12-22 System and method for monitoring supply chains WO2001048651A1 (en)

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NZ502036 1999-12-23

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