Optel is on a quest for ‘end to end traceability’

Machine vision company acquires a geomatics firm to extend traceability to raw materials


In life sciences, Optel Group is known for being one of the leading providers of machine vision systems that are the starting point for tracking pharmaceutical packages through supply chains. As such, the tracking begins at the packaging line where barcodes are attached to product packages. Per the US’ Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) and the European Union’s Falsified Medicines Directive (among other national efforts), trading partners and regulators will soon be capable of performing this anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion process.

But both within the drug-traceability community, and among supply chain visionaries generally, the potential to track products from their source materials (in this case, APIs and other ingredients) to the end customer has been something of a holy grail. Optel has now taken a step in that direction by acquiring a fellow Canadian company, GeoTraceability. The action also represents Optel’s president, Louis Roy, goal of moving beyond the pharma industry, into food and other consumer products where traceability is desirable. “In addition to increasing their operational efficiency and quality control, end-to-end traceability helps create a sustainable economy in the long term; this means respecting the environment as well as the availability of natural resources,“ said Roy.

GeoTraceability currently works with a number of privately funded initiatives for food production in the developing world. The company uses GPS and geospatial technology, barcoding, application programming interfaces and cloud-based database technology to provide pedigrees of various products. Potentially, this could be applied to industrial settings such as the front-end process of drug manufacturing, with some link over to the product coding for DSCSA compliance.

Meanwhile, Optel is also enjoying the news that it is one of five winners of a competition sponsored by the Canadian Government for the latter’s Innovation SuperCluster Initiative. As such, it will share in a C$950-million investment fund. Optel is the lead sponsor of the AI-Powered Supply Chain Consortium, which will bring it together with several other supply-chain technology companies in Canada, with a goal of smarter and more sustainable supply chains.