The French research Centre CTC has developed a solution that allows the sector to face the challenge of traceability with “an essential and complete tool that fully responds also to the growing social pressures on the tanning industry”.
“In a context where hides with only few defects are rare, it is important to improve the quality of leather through sustainable corrective actions, from the birth of the animal to the tannery, including transport, flaying and conservation”, explain the experts of the research Centre of the French leather and footwear sectors.
The CTC solution is divided into 4 phases. Very briefly, phase 1 involves the transfer of traceability data provided by the food industry from the meat to hides by printing a label that bears the identification number of the animal and which is then attached to the hide before its removal inside the slaughterhouse. Phase 2 concerns laser marking on hides. It has been found that no label added on the hide resists the tanning process, therefore CTC has developed a high power laser marking system transferring a 14-character code to the hide on the hair side in a few seconds. The operation is performed in the shoulder area during the salting or sorting phase.
With phase 3 you move to the automatic reading of the mark from the tanned stage onward. CTC has designed three different types of automatic mark reading stations that can be used at any stage of the process to suit the different configurations at each tannery. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the system recognises alphanumeric characters set in the hide, even when they were only partially marked or were warped during tanning, achieving a success rate above 90%.
Phase 4 concerns the implementation of a centralised data management system – based on blockchain technology – which makes it possible to meet all of the traceability project’s goals, primarily the improvement of hide quality, animal welfare, tracking the origin of hides.
CTC has developed this solution after ten years of research “to provide the sector with a range of unique industrial tools ensuring, reliable, simple and economically viable traceability. These tools are undeniably crucial building blocks for the implementation of corrective actions aimed at sustainably improving hide quality, as well as the implementation of charters to guarantee and secure hide supply sources”, they conclude from the research Centre of Lyon.
In the picture above: the laser marking phase