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Footwear Moves Toward Traceability in Brazil

Tests of RFID usage are currently under way in that nation, with the support of Ceitec and several recognized brands in the footwear sector.
By Edson Perin

According to the Sola Project, a serial number is the best way for shoe companies to have more precise control of their official products, not only in their internal organization, but with applications outside their company, such as logistics traceability to combat theft, counterfeiting and piracy. Since each serial number is unique, it can identify products in an exclusive way. "Just as each person has an ID," Hoelscher indicates, "in Brazil, each unit of a product can have its uniqueness, and be unique and unequivocal, even among several identical products."

The fashion industry is still working toward finding a traceability solution, the Sola Project reports. "Companies practice true juggling," Hoelscher says, "in an attempt to brand their official products to prevent counterfeiting and piracy—often a burdensome systematic scheme—and are then mocked by those who engage in criminal activity in commerce."

The Sola Project foresees the use of the serial number in several applications for the footwear sector. "In marketing, a consumer can register their official product for loyalty programs, receive promotions and offers according to their profile, and receive personalized service quickly and efficiently, strengthening the relationship with the brand," Hoelscher explains.

"Within your business," Hoelscher adds, "you can control, with complete traceability and precision, the quantity that is produced, sold, separated or inventoried in real time, impacting business in a global way. When goods are counted twice, control is very firm, avoiding deviations between what is physically accomplished and what is recorded in computer programs—physical vs. virtual world."

A critical point that generates billions of dollars in losses for the fashion industry is counterfeiting and piracy. "If there is total control of products that have been sold via traceability, it can easily be validated whether they are official or counterfeit," Hoelscher states. For shoe entrepreneurs, he says, to the extent that the serialization of products is widespread, the market will self-regulate, and fraudulent and criminal activities will be mitigated. In addition, cargo theft can be reduced, since the system can track stolen goods. In short, counterfeiting, piracy and theft can be tackled and resolved via traceability.

Identification, process and EDI pillars disseminated by the Sola Project, along with the evolution of serialization in a unique and unequivocal manner, should allow a solid structure for future applications of advanced manufacturing or Industry 4.0, Hoelscher predicts, as well as for the Internet of Things. "Parallel to discussions about this industrial revolution," he says, "it is essential to adopt a sustainable database of identification, process and data sharing to integrate the productive chain. It is time to do the homework that is lacking in the footwear industry, in order to maintain competitiveness."

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