It says it is halal-certified. But is it really? Geofencing can help remove the ambiguity
Md. Karim is a businessman who runs a meat joint in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Every morning Karim gets fresh halal supplies from a local meat supplier, who gets the meat delivered from a meat farm. Karim does brisk business everyday because most of his customers are Muslims, and they prefer him over others. They think that Karim being a Muslim himself would buy only genuine halal meat. But how can Karim ensure that the meat he is serving his customers is really halal? Is a label enough?
Prof. Dato’ Dr. Shattri Mansor, Geospatial Information Research Center (GISRC), Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, believes not. “Right now, we just go for the label and the barcode. There is no understanding of how the meat actually comes to the supermarket. There are no records.” This is important because halal products are not guaranteed halal if the halals supply chain did not apply. Several factors can lead to the risk of cross-contamination, such as, sharing containers, poor visibility of the container inventory, the transit place of the container, the history of immediate supplier and maintenance, and segregation allocation places.
Earlier this year, a US businessman was jailed for two years over fraud in the export of beef products to Malaysia and Indonesia that did not meet halal standards. The offending products came from a slaughterhouse in America that was not approved for importation by these countries — highlighting the fact that logistics play a very important role in protecting the halal status of the product.
As Malaysia moves toward becoming a world halal hub, GISRC has come up with a traceability system for halal logistic transportation — the HalalTracer. It combines the GPS tracking system technology with geofence algorithm to allow the logistics service provider and authorities to monitor the activity that occurs during the delivery of halal products.
A geofence is a virtual barrier. The tracking software program uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries. HalalTracer provides route information, and with little improvement in existing geofence technique, the vehicle stopping area can be checked and an alert be issued if the vehicle stopped at unknown area.
The system uses GPS tracker and offers real-time monitoring of the vehicle on a Web-based platform to present the results of tracking and alerts. Apart from giving the location information, this system also gives product information, so that the consignee and consignor both can trace where their product comes and go. Mansor adds, “To guarantee authenticity, we can simply install a GPS device on a supply truck and track it in the real-time on Google Maps. The GPS will give the location information in every 5-minutes interval.”
Maintaining the halal status is also a challenge because the manufacturers can guarantee the halal status only while the goods are in their custody. Once the goods get transferred to another place, chances of adulteration become much higher. HalalTracer can help check the route which the truck is following, or where it is stopping and for how long.
“Based on that data, analysis can be done whether the truck is stopping for rest or for food, or is it stopping at another warehouse to take other consignments,” Mansor explains. During the auditing process, authorities can easily check if there are any events occurring during the transportation process that lead to the possibility of a halal product becoming a non-halal product.
In the future, other sensors, such as weighing scale and door sensor, would be integrated into this system to avoid any confusion related to the stoppage location. The researchers are also mulling implementing this system in mobile version for Android– and iOS-based tablets to make it more user-friendly and flexible.