Just over 10 years ago Kyle Parker, who was already a ‘veteran’ in the marking industry having spent 16 years of his working career in the industry, ventured out on his own and started his company Traceability Solutions. At the time the company’s focus was marking traceability, accountability and track and trace products and solutions to companies across all industries. This is still the case today but the company is now part of a group of companies that fall under one entity – Mitas Corporation.
“The name Mitas Corporation consists of the first letters of the group’s main offerings: Marking, Identification, Traceability, Automation, Authentication, Systems and Solutions,” explained Group CEO Kyle Parker.
“Mitas Corporation consists of various direct fully-owned divisions and some partial or major shareholding businesses. These associated businesses provide related or complimentary offerings that leverage other entities in the group to provide full end-to-end bespoke solutions,” added Parker.
“Every business that manufactures a product needs to mark and identify that product in some form or another, for reasons such as traceability, legal or regulatory compliance, consumer/client information, branding and others. For non-manufacturing clients, there is the requirement to manage products, organise assets, and facilitate maintenance and tracking of those assets.”
“At the time when I started my company internationally stringent laws were being implemented to hold companies and individuals accountable for their products that they manufacture, whether it was in the food industry or in the automotive industry. The shift in the industry was therefore moving away from just marking a component but rather towards traceability from cradle to grave,” said Parker.
IoT, Industry 4.0 and the road to the Smart Factory
Kyle explains that one of the newer endeavors we are currently engaged with is IoT: “With IoT (Internet of Things) paving the way of spreading the concept of Industry 4.0, from its German origins across the world, the web is full of buzzwords signaling major changes and revolutions in both the internet and industry. Losing track of what’s what increasingly becomes an everyday risk. The IoT is one of the major factors in new communicative and interactive developments in all our lives, whether it be from a personal or professional perspective.”
“However, there is more to the IoT than merely everyday life situations and communications. It will also have an effect on the way things are produced triggering another industrial revolution. It should be noted that, seeing as changes in production processes historically take longer to be fully implemented, one might rather use the term evolution instead. ”
“The fourth industrial revolution paves the way to and for the Smart Factory. It is based on cyber-physical systems (CPS) networking machines and components with the addition of intelligent, “smart” and highly flexible software. Cyber-physical systems are intrinsically connected with embedded systems, these being parts of complete devices carrying out dedicated functions that frequently come with real-time computing constraints. CPSs link such embedded systems to digital networks facilitating independent data processing. The assignment of an IP address allows such systems to be controlled and monitored online. Owing to such embedded computer systems, sensors and actuators, cyber-physical systems organise production automatically and autonomously. Central process control can be eliminated as it can be taken over by CPS-based components. This concept of value chain organisation is also referred to as Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution.”
“Accordingly we have had to embrace these developments into our business model while not deviating from the very focus of the company. Our diverse portfolio of businesses provides the most comprehensive range of solutions offered anywhere in the world. From tagging red hot billets of steel at over 1 200° Celsius, to marking items immersed in liquid nitrogen; from marking products on stationary or slow manufacturing lines, to 120 000 items per hour and faster; and from standalone to portable – the only thing we cannot mark is air – and we are working on that!”
“With the ever-increasing issues of fakes, counterfeits, and illicit trade, the need for more and more brand protection has become paramount. Our portfolio includes many overt, covert and forensic traceability solutions as well as integrated web and mobile device monitoring, tracking and authentication solutions.”
“Our speciality and drive for the client wherever possible is to mark all products with both man and machine readable data at item level. This Unit Level Traceability (ULT) with assimilation provides vital parent/child relationship information that can be linked to the businesses supply chain logistics, allowing traceability of goods from manufacturers to distributors and retailers – as well as all the way into the hand of the consumer.”
“Each of the eight companies within the group have clear identities while at the same time are interlinked. Take Automation Solutions Africa (ASA) for example. ASA is dedicated to providing high quality specialised integration and jigging solutions. ASA has a long history of custom building jigging and tooling for various different applications including conveyors, plc’s, software integration, turntables and much more. Some of the industries that ASA service is, but not limited to, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), automotive component manufacturers, integrated energy and chemical companies. ASA can not offer a complete solution if it does not call on Traceability Solutions to provide hardware to be incorporated into its jigging and tooling.”
Real time track and trace
“The diversity of our exposure has led us to some interesting applications. We have developed an App whereby you can track and trace in real time the temperature of fridges, stock levels, which brand is being served at what time and where. This is all for draught beer being served in a bar and the data is recorded all before you take your first sip of beer. The information being relayed back via the sensors and IoT to management is powerful. This same solution can be applied to fuel tracking.”
“Another solution we are working on is gun tracking. Real time devices will revolutionise this industry for sure.”
“We are also working on other counterfeit solutions. DNA identification of fake fruit being imported is an example. It is all about stopping corruption, protecting brands, serialisation of goods with unique IDs and gathering the big data for law enforcement to act accordingly.”
“You can add asset management, productivity and a whole heap of other information that can now be tracked and traced in real time. It is scary but it is a reality and we have the tools. It is a matter of implementing them and the powers that be having the will to do so.”
“It is time for all of us to get “smart.” The implementation of smart technology is the basis for new industrial developments and self-governing devices. It is the base for increased product customisation and higher flexibility while at the same time allowing stronger consumer and supplier impact of automated processes.”
For further details contact Mitas Corporation on Tel: 010 020 7220 or visit www.mitascorp.com for links to all of the various companies and divisions.