EPC ensures complete unit traceability for explosives with Zetes collaborative supply chain solutions

The EPC Group, specialist in explosives for civil applications, complies with the European directive and offers complete traceability, from production to delivery, with three Zetes solutions: ZetesAtlas, ZetesMedea and ZetesOlympus.

Objectives

  • To comply with European regulations
  • Unit marking and complete traceability
  • Interoperability of partner, supplier, and customer systems

Solutions

  • ZetesAtlas for the unit marking of explosives
  • ZetesMedea for the optimisation and execution of logistics processes
  • ZetesChronos Proof of Delivery module
  • ZetesOlympus to track all the logistics events in the life of a product
  • MCL™ Mobility Platform for the real-time management and updating of all mobile terminal fleets

Results

  • Unit marking and complete traceability of products
  • Harmonisation of logistics processes between the 53 European depots
  • Qualification and empowerment of personnel
  • Compliance and security of delivery processes
  • Client:
    EPC Group
  • Industry:
    Manufacturing
  • Process:
    Packaging execution
    Product identification and serialisation
    Proof of delivery / collection
    Traceability
    Warehouse processes
  • Technology:
    MCL™

The EPC Group specialises in the manufacture, storage, distribution, and implementation of explosives for civil applications. It was founded in France in 1893 and now operates all over the world. On 1st April 2015, Zetes had to comply with new European regulations. In fact, two directives were imposed on companies in this sector: complete unit-level traceability of items across the whole logistics chain.

Until then, the group had provided traceability of its products on its seven production sites and its 53 European depots through batch number management. Traceability was then essentially based on the quantities produced. To provide unit and global traceability on all logistics processes, the EPC Group had to reorganise all of its operations.

The purpose was to find a partner able to implement a unique unit-level traceability solution on the whole distribution chain, Europe-wide.

This task was entrusted to FAQ Logistique Conseil, a consultancy firm appointed by the EPG Group to manage this international and multicultural project. "We started by conducting a complete audit of the European sites, to understand their operations in detail. Although they all had the same logistics objectives, the procedures varied from one country to another," explains Carmen Neira, an associate of FAQ Logistique Conseil. A detailed specification was constructed and submitted to the market.  Zetes was able to respond positively to every point of the EPC Group's expression of needs. "Zetes satisfied the requirements in terms of geographical coverage, technical expertise, and functional architecture," says Carmen Neira.

Unit marking of items and aggregation of production data

To ensure complete unit-level traceability, six production lines were equipped with the ZetesAtlas Packaging Execution solution. The solution manages marking and serialisation at each packaging level: item, box, pallet. Each item, of whatever size, now has a Datamatrix with a unique serial number so that it can be tracked throughout its life. 

In addition to identification, ZetesAtlas handles the aggregation and control of data in real time, an essential phase in the implementation of unit-level traceability. For the EPC Group, this first stage was carried out in a very short time, with minimal impact on production: "Zetes was able to understand and satisfy the production requirements according to the schedules," says the EPC Group.

Unit-level traceability on all logistics operations

Once the items have been produced, marked, identified, and aggregated, they are routed to the 53 logistics warehouses of the EPC Group, where the ZetesMedea logistics solution ensures the continuity of product traceability. For this purpose, operators are equipped with mobile terminals that can register products at each stage in the chain.  Initially, the solution manages the reception of goods and their placement in their storage locations. In addition to inventory management, ZetesMedea is able to manage order preparation and shipping. The ZetesChronos proof of delivery module ensures traceability of the loading of products into lorries, until delivery to the end customer with recorded proof of delivery (customer signature on the terminal for the transfer of responsibility). Proof of delivery is not required by the new European regulations, but allows the EPC Group to guarantee the compliance and security of the delivery process for the customer.

The information chain is not broken at any time. All product handling logistical events are tracked and recorded, even for return flows. For security reasons, the EPC Group often needs to retrieve products that were not used by customers within the time limits. Here again, ZetesMedea provides unit return processing and easy product reintegration into stock.

Finally, to be able to respond quickly and easily to any requests for information by the public authorities, the EPC Group chose ZetesOlympus Track & Trace, a secure portal for the management and tracking of activities at each stage of product life. This tool has the capability to retrieve all the logistics events of each item  manufactured, thereby satisfying the total traceability objective.

A technological infrastructure to suit the traceability requirements of the EPC Group.

Independently of the various solutions integrated by Zetes to satisfy regulatory requirements, the EPC Group particularly appreciated the technology foundation Zetes offered. This allowed the fast deployment of 350 mobile terminals and their applications at the 53 warehouses.  "The agility of the MCL™ Mobility Platform, which managed the whole fleet of terminals at all 53 sites in Europe, played a decisive and differentiating role in this case," confirms the EPC Group.

Positive repercussions on production and logistics processes

The response to European regulations has allowed the EPC Group to switch from batch traceability to total traceability. This helped to upgrade the skills of the existing teams, who were guided and trained in the new technologies. Moreover, since the installation of Zetes solutions, the EPC Group has observed a rise in the quality of its production processes.

In addition to complete traceability, the Zetes solution has allowed the group to harmonise all of its logistics processes in all the European countries where it operates, resulting in improved service to the end customer. "What impressed us with Zetes was its expertise in the field of unit-level traceability, its technical skills, and the commitment of its support teams," concludes the EPC Group. Next step: to deploy these solutions on the UK sites.

Zetes satisfied the requirements in terms of geographical coverage, technical expertise, and functional architecture.
Carmen Neira, FAQ Logistique Conseil Associate

What impressed us with Zetes was its expertise in the field of unit-level traceability, its technical skills, and the commitment of its support teams.
Charles-Ernest Armand, Administrative and Financial Director of the EPC Group