The role of International Standards in managing the global supply chain and traceability was the theme of the ISO Committee on conformity assessment (ISO/CASCO) workshop held in Geneva, Switzerland, 11 November 2009.

The ISO/CASCO workshop participants included, notably: (from left to right) S. MacCurtain, ISO/CASCO Secretary; I. Cleare, Moderator for the second session of the workshop; S. Mauel, Head of Product Security, Merck Serono; C. Agius, IECEX and IECQ Executive Secretary, IEC; S. Marinkovic, ISO/CASCO Project Manager: M. Schmid, Director Quality Management, Rail Division, Voith AG; O. Peyrat, ISO/CASCO Chair.

About 153 participants from 32 countries and organizations in liaison with ISO/CASCO attended the workshop, which was simultaneously broadcast via Internet – a first for this annual event.

The Webinar participants could thus follow the workshop as if they were in the meeting room in Geneva. They were able to see and hear the presentations via their computers and to submit written questions to the panel of presenters.

The ISO/CASCO Chair, Olivier Peyrat, defined the aim of the workshop: "We know that industry, even during these harsh economic times, understands the value of International Standards in building confidence in global supply chains and traceability. The aim of the workshop is to identify how organizations make use of and manage International Standards in their supply chains as well as to identify any gaps existing in the standards."

The ISO Secretary-General, Rob Steele, in his welcome address, declared: "A closely related issue that this workshop will consider is traceability of products. This is critical in the supply of products and as we have seen, of food. Issues of origin of the product – country or area of origin, as well as method of production – and the components in the product are of increasing interest. In some cases, this includes concerns from a health and safety perspective, as well as reliability and confidence."

The supply chain is a key component of the economy as it literally links all the economic players, from raw material to finished product, from farm to fork, from business to consumer. This is even more true in global supply chains.

The workshop focus was industry-based and raised interesting discussions on the benefits of using International Standards from the following sectors:

  • Food
  • Industry and consumer
  • Industry associations
  • Standards developers and regulators.

Examples of managing the supply chain in pharmacy, food, automotive, engineering, railway, telecommunication sectors were provided.

The conclusions of this workshop will  provide input to future ISO/CASCO work to improve practice in the global supply chain. The workshop preceded the ISO/CASCO 25th plenary meeting which took place on 12-13 2009 in Geneva.