Mobile solution helps Comvita optimise its supply chain

Comvita is an international natural health products company with a strong New Zealand heritage. The company is committed to the development of innovative natural health and wellbeing products, backed by credible scientific research.

Datacom developed a custom Android application for handheld scanners.

Manuka (leptospermum) honey is at the core of the Comvita product range and the company is the largest manufacturer and marketer of this uniquely New Zealand resource.

The company was founded in 1974 by Claude Stratford and Alan Bougen – a range of bee products was initially sold out of Stratford’s basement at his Paengaroa home in the Bay of Plenty. Comvita sells its products online, through retail stores in Auckland Central, Auckland International Airport and Paengaroa, and through selected health food stores and pharmacies.

The Challenge

Comvita is focused on supply chain optimisation, and full traceability is an absolute imperative for the company to ensure product provenance and authenticity.

Datacom was engaged to manage the project part way through its first phase of development. The initial phase of the project involved creating a system to track honey from honey boxes to the drums the honey is extracted to.

After successfully delivering the first phase of the project, Datacom won the bid to manage the development of phase two of the project. Winning the development work was attributed to the quality of project management in phase one and Datacom’s ability to deliver a proof of concept that focused on ease of usability for beekeepers.

The second stage of the project involved designing and building a custom mobile application to be used for inventory management, traceability of honey to hives and to provide visibility of hive maintenance. The application also provided Comvita with information to allow them to control batches of honey from different areas.

The Solution

Datacom proposed a custom Android application running on handheld scanners. The Intermec mobile devices were chosen for their usability and rugged rating.

Beekeepers would use the handheld device to efficiently record their hive maintenance work and any movement
of equipment between Comvita locations. Visibility of hive maintenance data would enable Apiary Managers to employ appropriate management techniques to optimise hive performance and production. Comvita Management and Supply Chain staff now have real-time visibility of hive management at their branches and the supply of honey before it reaches Comvita for processing.

“Ensuring product authenticity requires the capability for full visibility of honey products back through the supply chain to the hive. This is being achieved with our Apiary Management System. In addition, Comvita also understands the potential of new technologies to further enhance productivity.”

Colin Baskin – General Manager Supply Chain, Comvita


  • Increased control of hive management
  • Increased visibility of hive productivity
  • Improved overall traceability and visibility

Technologies delivered

  • Intermec CN51 handheld devices
  • Custom Android 4.2.2 application

The Partnership

Datacom and Comvita worked together to deliver a solution tailored to end users who are not technologically savvy. The combined Datacom and Comvita project team worked to support users through a major change to their day-to-day business to incorporate the new technology. Beekeepers are now starting to reap the benefits of using the solution and have commented on how pleasing it is to get the right information, enabling the right decisions.