Making the Food Supply Chain Safer

Lawson Trace Engine 3.0 provides visibility into food safety and quality.

Lawson Software is rolling out the first global version of its Trace Engine food supply chain application.

Announced March 17 at the 2008 Lawson CUE (Conference and User Exchange) in Las Vegas, Trace Engine M3 3.0 is a standalone, Web-based traceability solution for food manufacturers and suppliers.

"Food retailers can ask their suppliers to help give them visibility into what's gone into the products they sell," said Vicki Griffith, industry marketing director of process manufacturing and food and beverage for Lawson. "If there is an industry recall, typically there is a suspect ingredient, and a concerned retailer could have a manufacturer visually show them what ingredients were used."

Griffith said Trace Engine 3.0 enables food manufacturers to collect information from the various systems involved in manufacturing and distributing food products and to visualize it in a "trace line" that shows every step of a product's creation, from individual ingredients to the finished good on the shelf.

"Food manufacturers have multiple layers of systems," she said. "They have islands of information. Now they don't have to sift through all that data."

According to Griffith, Trace Engine 3.0 offers manufacturers several ways to track food safety and quality. She said the system can perform exception-based alerts, as well as root cause analysis.

"Manufacturers can isolate data and analyze the life of one incident," she said. "They can perform real-time, step-by-step analysis. This allows them to be very proactive and solve a problem before a product is shipped."

In addition to helping improve food safety, Griffith said the solution can also help improve food quality.

"When you work with food, you get what Mother Nature gives you," she said. "Manufacturers can analyze individual ingredients and batches and see which are best. It centralizes quality management, which can be complex and time-consuming."

Lora Cecere, an analyst with AMR Research, cited Trace Engine's capacity for supply collaboration among multiple parties and enterprises.

"The engine is designed to enable the tracking of materials across enterprise borders from farm to fork or field to shelf," Cecere said. "While other systems have limited enterprise capabilities, [Trace Engine] enables multiple-party tracking on critical information that is related to brand presence, consumer safety and product characteristics. It is a simple way for multiple parties to collaborate to ensure that there is adequate information to track materials in the supply chain."

Trace Engine 3.0 is a Windows-based application with a visual user interface. It sits outside a manufacturer's transaction systems and operates both with the Lawson M3 Enterprise Management System and other ERP (enterprise resource planning), farming and food lab software systems.

Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out's Retail Site.