Concept


The basis for research, implementation and application of the project’s main output will be the linkage of the automatically retrievable identity of products (items in general) to identity-specific tracking and tracing, and related web services. As the main achievement within the project, the development of an open-source tracking and tracing solution platform is envisaged, which can be tailored according to the specific needs of local and regional SMEs while its flexibility and minor demands in additional development will support lean organizational networking and process integration as well.

The efforts are planned to culminate in the creation of an open-source TraSer community which, through its web services, assists the targeted group of users (mainly SMEs) to improve their efficiency in changing environments, such as supply-chains, service operations and project delivery networks. The main output of the project, the TraSer open-source platform, is based on experience gained with an earlier development of the Helsinki University of Technology, the DIALOG system (http://dialog.hut.fi/).

Aside from the software being open-source, the key concept of TraSer making it feasible for smaller value chain participants is the creation, maintenance and use of unique item identification without the need of a centralized proprietary services of one given provider, and the adaptivity to local conditions of (legacy) infrastructure.

The uniqueness of identifiers is ensured by their ID@URI notation adopted from the DIALOG system. Here, the URI can be any uniform resource identifier which is, in case of URLs (uniform resource locator) unambiguous. If each participant has its own unique URI (or URL), it is essentially provided with its own independent namespace for the IDs, so that unique ID@URI identifiers may be created independently, i. e. two different companies with separate URIs may use the same ID without the risk of collision in the entire ID@URI identifier.

In the TraSer concept, the maintenance of ID@URI data is the responsibility of the manufacturer who issued the item with the given ID@URI and owns and maintains the TraSer node reachable at the corresponding URI.

Figure 1. Scheme of a simple delivery chain with TraSer clients and nodes

The database behind a TraSer node interface does not have to be restricted to a given structure and further data could be easily integrated with the database of the node, making further development possible without impairing the compatibility of core TraSer functionalities.

One problem frequently faced in the attempt to improve network coordination is the—often justified—fear of smaller participants that full transparency of their production data may interfere with their business integrity. Therefore, TraSer offers the possibility of configurable access control which allows companies to share data with trusted partners only.

One more aspect, the independence of the TraSer functionalities of the physical carrier, deserves attention, too. This is made possible by the ID@URI remaining unchanged for the entire interval of the item’s lifecycle where tracking or tracing through TraSer is envisaged. This implies that low-cost read-only (or write-once) RFID tags are suitable for application in TraSer, as well as rather “conventional” means of identification such as bar codes or OCR-readable text (assuming, of course, that the client handling the item is equipped with adequate readers).