Australia's biggest wool handler is about to launch an electronic bale tracking system.
AWH handles more than half of the national wool clip sold at auction with a national warehousing network.
The Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) says the widespread use of a QR Code/RFID is expected to "increase efficiencies in warehouses (domestic and internationally), thereby having the potential to reduce errors and minimize lost inventory".
AWH plans to use the AWEX-agreed, international standard RFID/QR tag, enabling the eventual tracking of greasy wool through the supply chain, from farm gate to early-stage processor.
Australian Wool Innovation is investing in the use of blockchain as a solution to trace the wool "chain of custody" from farm to consumer.
Blockchain is computer speak for digital transactions, blockchain is a program which can assemble all those transactions in a single online ledger.
AWI has chosen to use the UK-based technology company Everledger transparency platform to track Aussie wool.
AWH plans to initially introduce electronic tags at the point of packing for export.
The tag will provide greasy wool specification data via an electronic packing list to wool exporters preparing consignments and, ultimately, to early-stage processors.
No data will be carried on the actual electronic tag.
Data from the AWH packing house, plus data that the exporter chooses to provide, will be combined into an electronic file, suitable for importing into the IT system of an early-stage processor.
It comes at no charge to the exporter.
Digitalisation of the physical bale handling process has the potential to create significant advantages for wool industry participants by allowing richer information to be passed electronically through the pipeline, reducing the need for manual data entry, whilst delivering operational efficiencies.
AWH anticipates a high level of interest in the technology from major early-stage wool processors of Australian wool and is also holding discussions with industry participants in New Zealand and South Africa.
"We recognise that this may not be for every processing mill, but the opportunities for those that choose to endorse this technology will be great," AWH national wool manager David Mitchell said.
The new technology has been designed to complement AWEX's promotion of electronic wool classer specifications and tags on farm via their WoolClip and eBale programs.
Once established in its packing house network, AWH plans to introduce the technology into its broader wool handling operations.
AWH expects to 'connect' with the AWEX electronic tag system from farm gate, at which stage AWH will retire its physical tag in favour of the AWEX in-bale tag.
Further opportunities for the electronic identification technology include traceability back to origin of the physical wool, the capability to electronically locate and identify wool within a warehouse, and the ability for a mill to electronically mark blend codes on greasy wool prior to scouring.