Traceability is the ability to track the history, location, condition and use of materials, component and products. For finished products, the priority is the ability to recover the history, from raw material origin to current status. This information, using batch and serial numbers for identification, helps find the root cause of a problem, and recognise if other products might be affected.
In logistics, the goal of traceability is to identify the location and condition of all goods in the supply chain. In some sectors, for example pharmaceuticals, proof of a documented chain-of-custody is a vital element of traceability, because security is critical.