What is “Chain of Custody” and Why is it Important?
In the legal system, chain of custody is defined as “the chronological documentation or paper trail, showing the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of physical or electronic evidence”. – Wikipedia
Chain of custody ensures only authorized individuals come in contact with evidence, from beginning to end. In a criminal case, where a defendant’s guilt or innocence is, in part, decided based on evidence, the importance of a tightly controlled chain of custody process cannot be overstated.
Though the terminology is different, barcoding creates an automated "digital" trail, creating documentation on what something is , where it is or where it's been, who has it, where it's going etc.
Automation is the Key to Success
The application required tightly controlled documentation of a courier responsible for the daily pick-up, transport and delivery of lab specimens. Using Honeywell's Dolphin Black and proof of delivery software, ADI found the perfect solution. Easily scalable and customizable, the POD software automates the courier process and with signature capture and GPS time-stamp features on the Dolphin Black, the solution provides complete visibility and traceability throughout the process.
Going back to the definition of chain of custody, here are some of the features that provide checks and balances for each of these critical steps in the process.
Seizure (specimen pickup) – signature capture provides proof of when a specimen is picked up. The time-stamp feature pinpoints the exact time the specimen was received. The software also allows a photo to be taken of the item being tracked, linking the photo to the data, to show condition or other attributes of the item.
Custody - At any time, a driver’s whereabouts and the specimens in his custody can be monitored.
Control - Transaction history provides a documented history of where and when the specimen was transferred from one control point/person to another during the entire process, pickup to delivery.
Transfer - Signature is captured at the time the specimen is delivered to the designated final location, closing the loop on the process.
"Chain of Custody" in Your Business
Beyond this example for specimen tracking, chain of custody is used in a diverse number of ways. Some examples are: file tracking for law firms, insurance and mortgage companies, tracking of high-end retail items such as jewelry and in manufacturing for tracking tooling and calibration devices to name a few. Even in the art industry, chain of custody documentation can be used to augment “provenance” for a piece of artwork. I’ll admit, some of these applications are more obscure than others, but all equally important to the people requiring chain of custody documentation.
What do the terms Seizure, Custody, Control and Transfer translate to in your business? Receipt, Inventory Move, WIP, Sale . . .
How could an automated "chain of custody" process help your business?